Tuesday, June 8, 2010

RRG Gorge Pictures

Here are some pictures from Tour of Red River Gorge including the thunderstorm ridden, two wrecks and destroyed front wheel final stage. Thanks as always to Caitlin.

Could not be more relieved to be finished. Now the aches and pains set in.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tour of Red River Gorge

Tour of Red River Gorge

I ventured down to middle of nowhere Kentucky last weekend for the Tour of Red River Gorge. I went into it thinking that I really wanted to win the overall, it would be nice to win stages but in the end the only thing that really mattered to me was wining the GC.

The race started on Friday with a 7.4 mile Time Trial. I desperately wanted to win this because I was in desperate need of a “check” in the W column. I managed to get a TT bike thanks to Mike Sherer and Zipp who supplied me with an incredible sub 9 disc. I got it built mid week but the first real test (not ideally) was the prologue of Red River. I knew the people to beat would be Greg Strock (Texas Roadhouse) and John Eisinger (Cleveland Clinic). I was very focused and the course suited me; fast with some rolling hills. I rode as hard as I could, crossed the line feeling like it went well and waited for the results. After what seemed like forever the taped the results on the door and I won! However, it was just barely (2 seconds) over Strock.

The Saturday stage was a 51-mile rolling stage that was not expected to break things up. Surprisingly at the end of it I found myself in a breakaway consisting of Strock, Eisinger, and the other GC contenders. We barely managed to stay away with me rolling in for sixth. Since it was a points stage race it would have been nice to place higher but I did a ton of work to keep the group away and thus faded to sixth. Tiago Depaula won and since he finished 6th in the TT we were tied atop the leader board with 99 points apiece with one stage remaining.

The final day, a demanding 91-mile stage would prove to be the most epic day I have ever had in a bike race. It started as expected, slowly, with everyone trying to conserve as much as possible for the upcoming climbs. We crested the second brutal climb and all of the favorites were there, minus Taiga, who I had to beat. I wanted to keep it away but could not work because there was a long way to go. Everyone else was thinking the same thing and everyone came back together including Tiago, which was frustrating, but I had to remain patient, which is difficult for me to do. Then things started to get interesting. A rider from Cleveland Clinic attacked without looking and put his rear derailleur into my front wheel, removing three spokes. Clayton being the great teammate he is immediately stopped and sacrificed his wheel and Brett waited and paced me back to the group. I also received some unexpected help from Ryan Kiel, which was great. I got back on and tried to relax. We then encountered a long climb and once again I found myself surrounded by the leaders minus Tiago, another golden opportunity. However, Eisinger took an unnecessary risk around a corner, by now it was raining, and took down several of the lead group including Chris Uberti who dislocated his shoulder. (Although he later popped it back in making him pretty much a badass) I chased back on, once again thanks to my awesome teammate Brett Stewart. However all this confusion once again allowed Tiago to return to the head of the race. Finally, after another brutal climb, we were alone and Tiago was once again awesomely absent. We were descending in a group containing myself, Knapp, his teammate Gregory Christian, Strock, Eisenger, and a few others. Then came a switchback, I grabbed brakes nothing happened and I had one of the worst crashes of my cycling life. I did not once think about stopping but instead picked my bike and myself up and got on with the chase. I could see the group but was having a hard time closing. I saw Tiago, who had been dropped, and came to the sad realization that to get back to the leaders I had to work with the one person I desperately had to beat. It is amazing how quickly enemies can become allies in a bike race. We closed with a little over 10 k left. I luckily had two teammates with me in Brad and Weston who were both riding incredibly. We decided to let Greg Christian roll off of the front to take the 75 points off of the board. Then came a flurry of attacks with one by Eisinger finally sticking. I could not lose to him either so I had my great teammates get on with the chase. When we got close I tried one last attack knowing I would lose to Tiago in a sprint. I got caught before the line, finishing 5th and therefore 2nd on GC. It was a tough way to lose but I fought as hard as I possibly could and could not be happier with the result considering everything I had to overcome in one 91-mile race. Thank you to my NUVO teammates, and thanks to the promoters and officials for a cool race. I will be back next year looking for the win.

Pictures by the wonderful Caitlin Coar to come!