The stage race started as well as I could have imagined. After my training ride practice-run on the time trial course of 14:30, I geeked out a little bit and calculated my best possible time using the data from the ride to calculate an efficiency coefficient. By dropping 6+lbs from the bike with a change of wheels and dropping the bottles, bottle cages, saddle bag, and everything in my pockets--and going a little bit harder--I calculated that I could get a time of 13:36.
That time was a top-ten finish last year. In the back of my mind, I was also thinking Man, it would be awesome to have that U25 jersey, but we'll just have to see.
I was one of the last riders of the day to start the time trial. Ian had posted a solid time in the upper-13's, then busted it down the mountain so I could use his stupid-light 202's. The deal was that I get the wheels, he gets the credit.
I started a little bit conservatively--it felt easy but I knew that it was actually harder than I should be going off the start. I made the hard left a kilometer later, where the climbing really starts, and settled on a pace. I was fairly certain that the pace was a bit too high, but I liked it then and was going to see it through.
|Early in the course (the pain face hasn't set in yet)|
It was starting to hurt now. The 30 second man was coming back towards me, and I could see the minute man just a bit further. I did my best to maintain my pace as I chugged past them, but the road twists so much that I ended up taking the long way around one of them just to get by.
Focused on maintaining the pace that earlier on had felt like a good idea, I lost track of my place on the course for a bit. I checked the clock: nine and a half minutes in. Time to hurt a little more, and start twisting the throttle for the final push. I was motivated by the next landmark on the course that had come into view: the last turn.
I finally got around that corner and checked the clock: 12:45. 12:45!
With the finish now in sight, it was time to (as Richard Hammond would say) "give it the beans." My legs were fighting back and I couldn't breathe, but none of that mattered when I crossed the line at 13:29, besting my calculated possible time by 7 seconds.
I rode down the mountain smiling, and not just because it was a fun descent.
The results were emailed to us on the drive back to the house (pretty cool, eh?) and I was eagerly peeking over Scott's shoulder to find out how I did. 13th place! And a bit of research later confirmed that I had ridden into the Under-25 leader's jersey. I had done it.
Our team devised a plan of attack to keep me in the jersey, especially since Elbowz racing's Joe Schmalz was only 9 seconds behind me in the competition and they had announced that they were coming for the jersey.
Check back tomorrow for Stage 2: When Everything Goes Wrong.
In the meantime, check out the team's revamped (and still a work in progress) site! We'll be posting race reports and other goodies there throughout the season.