Redlands pretty much kicked me in the shin. Repeatedly. I got a nasty chest/head cold after and my shoulder/scapula are still quite inflamed. But I was excited about what was in store for the rest of the season and got back to training like a retard the week after. I took a brief hiatus from the local race scene to heal and train, only to reappear at Devil's Punch Bowl road race and get my front wheel taken out from under me at the 20 minute mark. WHAM. Smack on the asphalt, same shoulder, same knee. And same scenario which I now embrace whole heartily - Chasing...
Needless to say that weekend was tough. But as Brian says, we have bigger fish to fry. And more specifically, I was heading to The Tour of the Gila! A fabled 5 day stage race in the Land of Enchantment - New Mexico, 6,500-7,500ft above sea level, blustery 50 mph winds, and climbing that rivals Breathless Agony. I thought Redlands was tough with 4 stages, one being a 3.1 mile prologue, followed by a relatively flat 74 mile road race, a 60 minute crit, and rad Sunset loop of about 68 miles. But that was just the prelude.
Day 1 - 73.1 miles with a load of climbing
Day 2 - 77.90 mile road race with again, climbing
Day 3 - 16.5 time trial, on a hill
Day 4 - 25 lap/27 mile crit which lasted 1:10. That's nuts. With more than a bump in it.
Day 5 - The mystic Gila Monster road race, 71.2 miles of pure gnar gnar!
Director Michael Engleman invited Beatrice Rodriguez (Sc Velo local mosher) and I to join the crew of Flavia Oliveira - teeny tiny Brazilian climber and all around rad chick as Clara Hughes raced her comeback event, after not racing since 2003. She has spent the last 8 years speed skating and holds 6 Olympic medals in cycling and speed skating. Only one of 2 people in the world to have received medals in both winter and summer events. But that's just the tangible stuff. The conversations with this team will be remembered forever, acting as a huge catalyst for my training to come.
Hopefully over the next few days i will be able to re-hash the hilarity, excruciatingly painful levels of suffering, the on-the-bike in services, physical and mental adaptation, the trust, and the amazing experience that being part of a general classification win was and is.
Yes, Clara came back with a bang winning the TT, Crit, and GC.
And for me, I did not crash, flat, mechanical, or cry. And I finished. Second to last, with an ear-to-ear grin.