It’s been a couple months since my last update. Long enough for me to learn a few things (outer-space smells of raspberries – the ozone layer? geraniums); to grow a little bit (actually, still 5’9”…on a good day); experience new things (Like riding this bike, which is pretty sweet, dude);
See new places (Stockholm, Sweden makes me think that socialism can’t be all bad);
and give everything at some races (so many watts! so many strokes! so much pain!)
Since my last blog, I’ve raced in: Palamos, Spain; Hamburg, Germany; Stockholm, Sweden; London, England; and Las Vegas, Baby!!!
After coming off a bunch of races in May-June, the latter part of my season I wanted to be able to focus my training on a few races and have some great performances. I went into Palamos and Hamburg with the goal of setting myself up to have a start and race well in London. Based on recent performances, that should have been simple goal. But at some point I apparently decided that I should make that goal more challenging; enter, terrible swims.
Training was still going well in the pool. With a stronger ride and a solid run, life should be simple. But no… I was somehow was in the last, last pack out of the water in Palamos. I smashed myself to catch the front group and then was left a tiredish run where I finished 15th. No biggie – I’ll salvage that with a solid race in Hamburg:
Boom – great start, I’m in a solid position around the first buoy. Obviously some violence, but hey – I’ll make it through. But I’m out of the water maybe 15 seconds away from the main group and stuck with the second chase pack. That’s too far in a WTS and I couldn’t make up time on the ride. So I’m off to the run with not enough to finish with a good race.
I’ve qualified for London, though, so mission accomplished. I have 5 weeks to prep for Stockholm, and I nail it. Back in Colorado Springs, I start running times I’d be pleased with at sea level, and my riding is awesome. There are moments of excellence in the pool, so I entered Stockholm ready to rock and roll.
On top of all that, I was going to be racing in this beautiful set of leather and laces:
Well, maybe less leather and laces so much as rubber and elastic.
Anyway, Stockholm is awesome; beautiful people, bikes everywhere, clean streets, fancy shops. There’s even a bmx competition right next to our hotel. Clearly, the Swedes have something figured out.
WTS Stockholm starts and I’m balls to wall from the gun in some of the choppiest bay water I’ve ever encountered. I’m out of the water in a strong place and find myself with the first chase pack of riders. Considering the front pack is made up of 8 guys who are all Brownlee-esque in the water, I take that as a good step forward.
Everything goes well as we blast past this awesome palace on every lap of the bike:
Things get a little worrisome when my front skewer comes completely loose. I’d given my bike to some mechanics right before the race start so they could switch the brake pads. Apparently they’d forgotten to tighten my front skewer.
I thought to myself “Next time you ride on cobbles, don’t implicitly trust that mechanics will know how to tighten your front skewer.”
With a loose wheel, the cobbled sections were, to say the least, gut wrenchingly mortifying with a side dish of terror and a pinch of my petrified mind. Having a front wheel rattling dangerously around, just waiting to throw me directly on my money maker (my face, if that wasn’t completely clear), was not a good sensation.
But my handling skills are far improved this year and I stayed pretty calm. I jumped onto to the run fresh for having completed the tough Stockholm course.
Maybe a little too fresh, because I smashed the first lap and a half. I felt awesome. I was floating. Richard Murray was a little up the road and I started thinking to myself “I’ll pick it up next lap and just jump onto the back of those guys.”
Then the world came crashing down. First, a stitch. No problem. Then my back cramped. No problem. Then I couldn’t really breathe. That was kind of an issue. I slowed down to a jog. I let a bunch of guys blow past me and watched my hopes for a top ten fade away. It took about a lap for things to marginally clear up and I started to claw my way back into things. I caught a few guys, passed a pissed off Sven Riederer (who dropped out shortly thereafter) and finished 17th.
It wasn’t ideal, but I was stoked. No one really lines up to finish 17th, but I had all the pieces and the next couple weeks would just be me putting things together for London.
And the next few weeks went well. I went into London backed by solid workouts in the swim, bike, and run.
But fitness often doesn’t translate perfectly in ITU racing. London was not I what I’d planned. I had a terrible first 300 meters in the water, and the effort I gave from then till the end of the ride trashed my legs. I couldn’t run like I’d practiced and ended up with a result unreflective of my preparation.
I did things in London that I could never have done before. I made up for a terrible swim start to finish in an acceptable pack. And I drove that bike pack so that we rode faster than Brownlees/Gomez in order to catch the first chase.
But it wasn’t enough. My coach, Mike Doane, had prepared me to have an awesome race. I was running great, riding awesome, and swimming better than ever. But come race day, I had nothing left to deliver on the run. I was exhausted after my efforts on the ride and was crushed to find that I had absolutely no running legs.
After an eventful Bus ride with Nirvana transportation which saw that my bike didn’t make it to the airport (I still don’t have my bike), I was home. Home for 20hrs, and then on a flight to Vegas.
I met my parents in Vegas, which was awesome. After such a disappointing race in London, I was really happy to see some family. The race in Vegas was fun. My bike was still in England, so I was really lucky to be able to borrow a Kestrel Legend. It handled incredibly well through the corners, despite it having not been fitted for me. The fast corners were easy to maneuver.
It was super sprint race, but for a few rather mundane reasons I was off my game. After a pretty poor prelims, I ended up in the relay format B-final with Teammate Joel Tobin-White. I won my leg by about 15 seconds and he sealed the deal, so we crushed it and I felt like I had my normal stride back on the run. That was a relief.
I got to hang out at Interbike with the James Lock from Zone 3 after the race. I had a good time, highlighted by selling a wetsuit to a guy who only spoke Spanish. I did my best and for future reference a wetsuit is: ‘traje isotermico’
Now, I’m happy to be back in the Springs. I have one race left this year and it’s in Guatape, Colombia. The course suits me perfectly and I have about 5 weeks to prepare. I’m really excited to end the season with a bang. Already this has been a successful year, but I want to have an awesome WC result. Guatape is the place to do that.
Now, for your inspirational picture of the month:
If you work really hard, maybe someday you can ride this bike.
Here’s another inspirational picture: