Tuesday, May 29

The long road to Arkansas!

It seems like a lifetime ago, but back in April we traveled to Fayetteville, AR for the Joe Martin Stage Race. Being that I can work remotely and that part of my work includes working for CashCall Cycling Team, I got to tag along. Sadly, we had to leave Brian at home to tackle his day job. He flew in for the event though which was great!

We all raced LA Circuit race in the morning, and I made the not-so-educated decision to race the men's p1/2 event. Now I have done quite a few mens/masters events, but never one this long. Due to the nature of the course, there was a lot of surging and rubber band effect was in high force. The shuffle put me at the front of the race a handful of times which was not where I wanted to be! Brian was pumped to have me there, and as he rode through group, he would get me on his wheel and have me move up with him. Some of the other riders were not too pumped on this however, and I received a good half-dozen rib shots and hip shoves from these guys! Really dude? Keep your hands on your bars! This race ended up being 2:15 race time. That's LONG long long. With 2 laps to go on the 4 mile circuit, a rider told me "Maybe you don't belong here!" Thanks for the motivation pal!! I told him "Thanks so much for the support. I really appreciate it. And since your behind me, you don't belong here either." Not sure how I came up with that, and that I said it nicely, but I did. I rode right next to him for the last 2 laps. I'm probably NOT the chick you want to pick on. I know way too many people, and my husband is 5 wheels away. He and his teammates, lets just say, are a bit protective of me. 

As we loaded up, Brian was insistant on the following rules: Never go into a truck stop alone. Always be with one of the male riders. Bad things happen at these places! Always have your cell phone charged and lock the car. Always have cash. Never go anywhere alone. As he walked away I told driving partner Shelby we probably won't ever have kids. Unless we could put them in a bubble. 

3 days to Arkansas! We saw LOTS of this!
The front seat became command central as I updated training schedules for clients, scheduled hotels for the team, coordinated with our host families in Fayetteville and worked on more logistics.

I was super impressed with this truck stop find! No junk!
We finally arrived in AR and the riders were starving! They found the closest Chipotle as I hit the pavement to find local food!
Crepe truck!

Roasted local chicken and veggies! Awesome!
Once to the riders host houses, we fired up the iPhones to find a nice spin route. I am always glad to have 6 riders to sit behind, because their recovery pace....not so much mine.
Heading onto new roads in AR.

Awesome lush forest and smooth roads. With dead armadillos. 
At my host house, I found this card! 2010 Webcor including my good friend Lindsay Myers, now of Tibco. Host families really love having riders at their homes and follow them for years. So cool!
Host house decorations. 

Host house COFFEE. So. Awesome. 

Host house welcome!

Heading to the Time Trial. I loved the area!
I went to Joe Martin as a solo rider. This was an NRC event and one that we thought may suit my riding style a bit more than the massive climbs of Gila. This speculation proved true as I had a great time, and some solid results. Traveling with CashCall makes being a solo rider much easier as they help with just about everything a girl could want! At the start of the first road race though, a guy walks up to me and asks "how's LA?" Turns out to be the brother of a longtime Helen's racer. His wife was in my race and was able to give me bottles, carry my spare wheels in his truck, and give me an instant calm feeling that I had a friend in the caravan.

After the TT, we were at the host house washing all the team bikes outside. I took my flip flops off and promptly stepped on a bee, ending his short life in my foot. Here's the problem. I am really really really allergic to bee's. I quickly plucked the stinger out and found a sharpie to outline his death circle. I had a lot of work to do, so taking benedryl at 4pm was a bad idea. On the following road race stage, lets just say my inner character was tested multiple time with the hottest, itchiest, most annoying foot ever. The sweet relief of taking my shoe off and putting ice cold water on it after the event was quite satisfying.

The time trial was uphill, which is much more awesome than something technical, or something long like the Gila 16 mile TT. So Brian and I had "fun" with this one, and he got in the local newspaper. Always looking for fame. :-) The yuckiest thing ever: We shared a TT helmet. Brian raced first, and as if the humidity hadn't made me sweat enough in my warmup, putting his soaked helmet on and having his sweat run all over my face was the icing on the cake. Now that's love.
Brian is famous. 
For one of the road stages, Brian loaded me in the team car and dropped me in the parking lot and left me to my own devices. So this is it. This is the life. My little base camp as everyone else sat in nice chairs under their ez-ups with a cooler filled with nice drinks. It's great practice for me, and if I can thrive in this setting, I like to think that in a more structured setting I will be able to really excel.
"Team" set up
Host housing is awesome. And Brian says he doesn't like small pets. At Merco, the cats slept on him every night, and little Princess here did not disappoint! And yes, we were in trundle beds. :-)
Pet friend!
Joe Martin was a bit of a break through for me. I finished just at the 50% point for the TT which for me is a big goal achievement. The field was smaller, and leading into the first road stage, I knew that Tibco and Optum would be active all day. And they were. I made the split and barely missed the break. Paul of CashCall had given me one goal: Finish top 10. If a break of 2 goes, let it go. So I played it slightly safe, riding in a group that was 5-15 on the road. I ended up 10th on the stage and completely spent. I loved the route and terrain and made sure to check out the pastures and scenery from time to time, so the experience wouldn't pass me by!

Stage 3 the group stayed together, after being whittled down quite a bit. It came down to a wicked fast bunch sprint finish, where I stayed in for 13th. Totally new experience for me, and watching the bigger teams navigate the finishing 5k was awesome.

The crit had a horrid hill in it right at the start finish. It was one of the races that you go into with lofty expectations of making a break, which gets down graded into make the split, to at the half way point not losing a GC spot. it was really really hard. Probably the hardest crit course so far this season. I was able to actually move up a spot - the value of finishing!!! - and finished 11th GC. I was very very excited about this result even though the field was smaller.

I quickly took Brian and some of the staff to the airport and settled in to mentally prepping for the 2 day drive home. Michael, our German rider who flew to the event, really wanted to be home Monday. I said that ain't gonna happen. We are going to show you AMERICA! Oklahoma and New Mexico did not impress.

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