Our former teammate Jared Barrilleaux entered the professional cycling ranks this season and we are so proud of him! He is a rider on Jittery Joe's Cycling Team. Currently, Jared is competing in his first UCI race (internationally ranked race--a race of importance to the international professional cycling community), the Tour de Georgia stage race. Every day we will bring you Jared's report from the road. He writes well, with a fresh perspective of the professional cycling scene, a bit of humor, and with a great attention to the details and subtleties of the sport.
Come back each day to read Jared's latest report. They are provided here in reverse chronological order (newest report is first). Thanks to Jared for allowing us to share these with you!
Stage 7: Circuit race in downtown Atlanta. 6.3 miles per lap/ 10 laps.
The final stage. I knew all the pain would be over after today! However the weather was not going to let us off easy. We drove into Atlanta with a soft drizzle greeting our arrival. It was kinda funny? when we parked the bus, nobody got up or anything. We all just sat and looked around at each other waiting for sombody to convince us that we were actually going to get on our bikes again J. The only thing that motivated me to get up was to head over to our tent in the expo area and snake a cup of joe. Mmmmm?. After enjoying a steaming cup of Tour de Georgia Blend? we kitted up and threw on our rain jackets. Before we knew it, we were all lined up at the start line. Fortunately, the rain subsided and all we had to battle with were the damp streets. As discussed earlier in our team meeting, our objective was to get one of our riders into the breakaway that was almost surely going to form. This we did. Actually, I was the lucky Jittery Joe?s rider to make the breakaway this time. My first REAL UCI breakaway! Here I was taking pulls with some of the top cyclists in the US (Tom Danielson, Justin England, Cam Evans?) It was also neat because most of the coverage of the race was filming the us doing rotating pulls. We got away on the first lap. I was not even sure exactly when the break formed.. I just remember being REALLY aggressive and eventually looking back to see a gap between the 8-10 of us and the rest of the field. We almost immediately shot up to 45 seconds in front of the field. We fluctuated between 45 and 55 seconds ahead of the field for the next 7 laps. I was surprised that we stayed away that long! It was such a crazy and thrilling experience being in a break in this huge of a race. There were countless people yelling and cheering at me; it gave me chills! Unfortunately a couple of riders flatted and crashed out of the break and we were left with only 7 guys doing work. Oh, and there was a punk from Bissell Pro Cycling that was just sitting on the back not taking turns in the rotation. His name starts with an A and rhymes with Aaron Olson. That did not settle well among those of us who were taking turns pulling through. Whatever, I was beyond exstatic to be a part of the breakaway! Plus, my mom got to see me on TV =D haha.. We were expecting to start to get reeled back in around 2 laps to go. Instead we were putting more time on the pack! With one lap to go, we had extended our gap to 1:05. This was a glimmer of hope that it would come down to a sprint among us for the win. However, back in the pack Rock Racing put all of their riders on the front to really push the pace. After a mile our gap had dropped down to 35 seconds? then 15 seconds? With about 2 kilometers (a bit over a mile) to go, we were officially caught by the peloton. Sad day L? At this point, there is no use to try to jump in the pack and go for the sprint finish. We had been giving our all for the past 60 miles and these other guys that had been sitting in the pack were fresh. Oh well, what a thrilling experience! After the race, I was relaxing near the team bus when I heard the familiar voice of Therese Scannell. She had come out to watch the race with her husband Steve and son Rhys. It was nice to have a chat with them before heading out to our last hotel stay. At this point my legs were drained of every ounce of energy and replaced with equall volume of lactic acid. A nap was surely in store followed by an evening of celebratory reminiscing in the hotel bar =D
Photo -thanks Alex!
?you can see me 2nd from the left smiling and enjoying the scenery in downtown Atlanta? HA!
Well, that just about concludes my first ever 2.HC UCI stage race. The overall winner was a german guy on Team High Road that I can?t pronounce? it sounds like ?sweets-off? I think..
Thank you guys for taking the time out of your busy schedules to glance over my emails as the days rolled over. I have a newfound respect for those guys that do the grand tours (Tour de France, Giro, Vuelta) because they would only be 1/3 of the way through the race after 7 stages!
Go Jittery Joe?s!!!
Stages 6: Blairsville to Brasstown-Bald. 2 really hard climbs + 1 Extremely hard climb at the finish. 88 miles.
This was Saturday?s stage of the Tour of Georgia. Going into this ride my legs were feeling very exhausted from a hard 135 miles the day before (not to mention the other 4 previous stages!) Immediately attacks were launching from mile 1. Our goal was to try to get one of our 8 riders to make the breakaway. I was especially trying hard because all tour long I had not been in a successful breakaway. Most of the time the breakaway riders are caught before the finish, but it is great publicity for the team to have a rider representing us in the break. Furthermore, if the break never gets caught by the main pack of riders? then there is a very likely chance of finishing among the top 5 riders for the day. Unfortunately I was unable to work myself into the elite group of riders that made the break for the day. Conversely, Neil Shirley did. This was awesome. As soon as those 5 riders disappeared up the road, the main pack calmed down and we had the opportunity to catch our breath. The course consisted of rolling hills for the first 65 miles then the first big climb. This climb turned out to be the determining factor for the day. Everybody hit the hill with full gas and each of the unlucky individuals to make the front group had to give it their all. However those lucky riders (most of the Jittery Joe?s Team, including myself) that weren?t strong enough to make the faster group had the privilage of riding the rest of the day easy. This collection of riders that got split off were formerly known as the ?groupetto.? The only mission of the groupetto is to finish the day conserving as much energy for the next day as possible. It is accepted that this group of riders are not riding to win the stage (as there are 30ish riders up the road that already have a considerable gap from the climb.) I was a bit bummed not to be able to stick with the big dogs on the hard climb? but these guys were fast! Regardless, the rest of the stage had some more severe climbing in it and since we were not in contention anymore we just relaxed and climbed at a comfortable pace. This was until we hit the last 6 kilometers (about 3.5 miles.) Here there was no comfortable pace. The road pitched WAYYY up and it almost felt like we were going to tip over backwards! For those of you that know gearing on bikes.. we all had 39-27?s and I was having trouble turning over the cranks on some of the sections. On the brighter side, the very small and narrow road that winds up to the highest peak in Georgia (Brasstown-Bald) was lined with screaming and cheering fans =D. I was lucky enough to catch a break when enthusiastic fans would come up from behind us and give us a little boost up the hill! You would be surprised how motivated the fans are when they see the look of pain and torture in our eyes as we struggled up the roads! It was brutal. The hill just kept on going and goinggg? It was decieving because I tried to judge the top by the amount of people lining the streets, but the crowds were screaming and cheering even around the middle section. Furthermore, it was frustrating that the road was so meandering because after each turn it was a let down to not see the finish line. Once we poked above the clouds, I finally caught up to the finish line (it had apparently grown legs and had been running from me!) At this point the cheers and roars were a distant blurr of noise and the only focus I could retain was balancing on my bike as somebody directed me to our tent with chairs and refreshments. It took a few minutes to stop coughing and catch my breath. I relaxed for a few and jumped back on the bike to descend half way down the climb to the last point where cars were allowed. Here my subway sandwich (not so enticing after the 6th straight day) as well as cold water and a towel eagerly awaited me. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and prepping mentally to get back onto the very device that wreaked a world of pain about my legs.
Funny story: I gotta question for all of you. Here is a situation that is totally applicable to anybody, not just cyclists. ?sombody opens the door to a bathroom and you are sitting there, pants around the ankles; on the john. What do you say as they are looking you right in the eye? ?Be right out??? ?knock next time??? ? It is obviously the opener?s fault for not knocking.
Well I opened the door on John Cantwell (our really good sprinter)? his response? ?G?Day!? He was smiling ear to ear. It absolutely cracked me up.
Stage 5. Suwanee to Dahlonega. 134mi. 2 huge climbs (1 @ mi 60, 1@ mi 95) Additionally, an EXTREMELY steep kicker at the end? very short, but STEEEP..
After a huge breki (Australian for breakfast) we had to say goodbye to our pallace of a hotel and jump in the bus for about an hour and a half trek. Eventually we found ourselves in Suwanee, GA. It seemed that everybody living there was a JJ fan. Easily the most signatures that we have got to sign so far. The cutest thing happened to me when we first pulled up. There is a section that is roped off around our bus to keep spectators from messing with bikes and what-not. I stepped off the bus and started walking over to the race trailer which was parked on the other side of the parking lot.. and this little blond hair cutie came running under the ropes and chased me down screaming ?WAIT, WAIT!!!? She couldn?t have been more than 4 years old and she had a sharpie in one hand and a Jittery Joe?s poster in the other. Her dad was yelling at her telling her to come back? I signed her poster, and thanked her. She was nothing but smiles :-D.
Once the race started, attacks were immediately happening. Our race strategy was to try to get a climber (Neil, Trent, Matt, or myself) into one of the breaks? as today was a huge climbing stage. Unfortunately we did not get a rider into the break surprisingly. We were super aggressive (I was in a two man chase at one point with Dominique Rollin of Toyota United), but no Jittery Joe?s present in the final break. The final break launched around mile 40? so up until that point.. it was extremely aggressive and VERY fast. I was very concerned since my legs were beginning to fall off. What about the next 90 miles!?! It turns out today?s ride was the farthest I have ever ridden before. On top of that, we averaged a touch over 40 k per hour? quick math says this is around 24 mph. Additionally, this stage had two very intense climbs in it? and usually hard climbing stages average slightly lower than flat stages. Regardless? as soon as the lasting break was off the front by a reasonable margin? Levi came to the front of the group and gave the signal for Time Out. This means no more attacking while everybody gets a chance to drop back to team cars/ feed/ take a leak/ etc. This ?neutral? behavior is standard for every race once a breakaway has developed at least a minute. After about 30 minutes of soft pedaling and chatting with other riders (I was speaking with Lucas Euser of Slipstream.. he says Hi Alex..), the pace started to pick back up as the breakaway was about 7 minutes up the road. It was kinda funny.. I was hanging out at the back of the pack and talking to Lucas about riding in Spain.. he currently lives in Gerona!..and all of the sudden, he said.. SHIT! His team director called him to go to the front and rotate with an Astana rider to start reeling the break back. Within about 2 minutes.. the pack doubled its pace J Poor Lucas, he suffered on the front for hours? up both climbs! I actually had the privalage of being on his wheel up the first climb (I was third wheel as the pack was climbing). Brief background.. Lucas went to Cal Poly and was one of the three guys (including myself) to make a pro spot over the past few years?
Anyways, it?s getting late?and a long day.. so here?s the rest in a nutshell:
The first climb was pretty easy? the second climb was horribly hard (but I stayed in the front group) the last kicker really split everything up and I don?t remember much from that. My legs felt surprisingly good after everything.. I think the softer Team Time Trial yesterday provided a little rest? a little?
Tomorrow is by far going to be the hardest day of all. It has 3 epic climbs? and in addition to the 3rd climb is the spur up to to Brasstown-Bald. I?m going to pack my ice-hammer and climbing shoes, cuz it?s STEEP! (15-18% at spots and nearly 6 km to the top) very challenging. We are expecting some rain along the way? and somebody said possibly hail up Brasstown?. Hopefully that is a rumor!
-these links are of our Team Time Trial yesterday.. good find Alex J
Stage 4: Team Time Trail. 4 laps, 2.54 miles each.
Quick description: A team time trial is very unique from any other stages in that you are not racing other riders exactly. Each team is more focused on finishing the circuits as fast as possible. A team?s time is determined by the fourth rider to cross the finish line on the final lap. Every team starts with 8 riders (or at least how ever many riders the team has left in the race after stage 3? you have to finish each stage to start the next.) This means that you can lose up to four riders during the four circuits. However, these riders that drop off during the time trial are on their own to finish the race (and MUST do so within 25% of the winning teams time to rider tomorrow?s stage). For example, if the winning time was 20 minutes, then any rider finishing the race after a 25 minutes is time-cut and cannot continue with the following stages.) This becomes an issue if a given team has a main rider, it is crucial not to drop this rider during the time trial. In our team?s case, we have a main rider (Neil)? but he is not exactly sitting in a very competitive spot on Grand Classification (GC)? he was 31st going into today. So when we dropped him today, it was a close call, but the team director ?radio?d? to us telling us to keep driving the pace.
After a short twenty minute commute from our hotel, we strolled into the Road Atlanta Raceway in our team van followed by our two team cars. By the way, we have the sweetest team cars in the race (2 white BMW 328 sedans fully wrapped with Jittery Joe?s logos!) It was immediately known that we were the ?hometown favorite? as we drove in and parked. Fans came in a constant flow up to our team bus asking for signatures and pictures. It is really inspiring to know that we have such a significant impact on the local community. It is equally satisfying when people with very little understanding of cycling approach us and thank us for all of our hard work! After a short meeting discussing how we were planning to ride, we jumped on the course for a couple of laps to get the feel of things. Then we set our bikes up on trainers under an awning next to the bus and warmed up for another 30 minutes. This seemed to attract the attention of the wandering fans around the venue. Apparently it is a good photo opportunity to take pictures of riders when they aren?t moving at 30 mph! You would be surprised how many randoms approached and asked if they could have a picture taken with us while we were dripping with sweat and riding our trainers. J haha, fun nonetheless. It seemed to be a spectator sport today as each team was stationed in a big parking lot in the center of the raceway. Before we knew it we were all lined up in the start gates and ready to roll. All decked out in our new skinsuits (a one-piece lycra/spandex outift that fits very tightly to reduce wind-drag), we looked like a pack of giant carrots! The design that Garneau (our clothing sponsor) came up with has a bit more orange than our normal jersey and shorts. Nonetheless we were off. We started off at a blazing speed and immediately had to battle the main hill of the lap. We rocketed up it and my legs were screaming. I was the last to the top and knew that whatever I do, I cannot let a gap develop between myself and the rider in front of me. This is the overall goal when doing a time trial such as this. As soon as a small gap develops, you leave the draft of the rider in front of you. This then requires that you pedal extremely hard, essentially accelerating faster than the rest of the team just to catch on to the back. This is clearly not something that you want to have to do at ANY point. After that climb, we accelerated into the next descent and I was happy to be part of the group. We were in a straight line and taking 15 second pulls.. which means that you ride on the front of the group for about 15 seconds and pull to the side, dropping to the back. Once you pull behind the last rider, you effectively have a chance to rest until it is your turn to break the wind again. This fashion of rotating continued for the entire race. Unfortunately two of our riders had to drop out of the group after the first lap. For the next two laps we rotated with six riders. On the fourth and final lap, our pace exploded up the climb and we resembled nothing similar to a team. We had riders sporadically located along the climb. This took a little while to recover from because the riders that went fast up to the top had to wait for the other guys lagging. I was right in the middle? so? at least nobody was mad at me! However, unfortunately this gapped Neil off the back and we just kept rolling through. This took us down to five riders to finish out the fourth lap. About a quarter of a lap from the finish, we lost one other rider and this left me, Trent Wilson, Ryan Sullivan, and Matt Shriver to cross the finish line together. Wow, that sure was close? considering you have to finish with at least four riders! Fortunately our time landed us a top 15. Unfortunately, there are only 15 teams? Regardless, our 14th place was hard earned! Furthermore, we are one of the most aggressive teams in the peloton; always attacking and trying to get into breaks. For this reason it is understandable that we did not have the most energy in the race.
This altered up the GC rankings quite a bit and Neil dropped to around 80th and I climbed to around 75th. Tomorrow?s stage is a long one, about 135 miles with two hard climbs. This should also shake things up as far as rankings go!
Until next word?
We have four Australians on our team, so we enjoy using their ling-Gowe J ?or at least trying to!
Again, it doesn?t get old having all of you guys showing your support via emails, texts, etc. Thank you so much, I wish you could all be out here to watch!
Story: today?s ride was very hard.. arguably the hardest race I have ever done. Nonetheless, it was all made up for when Levi Leipheimer.. (pretty much the guy that will tear EVERYONE up in the mountains on Saturday) highlighted my inexperience! We were riding two abreast as the pack was chasing and we were all strung out for about 200 meters. Oddly enough Levi was next to me. About 90 percent of my brainpower was used to NOT swerve over and crash him out. By now, just about everybody knows that I am the rookie in the pack due to my less than par bike handling skills. The other 10 percent of my thoughts were devoted to ignoring the immense pain bolting from my legs. At this time, I didn?t notice that a small gap of about a meter was opening between the guy in front of me and my front tire. Levi took this opportunity to drift back and put a hand on my back and push me forward! By the way, this dude Won the Tour of California for the past two years, came 3rd overall in the Tour of France (winning a stage). He?s legit. And he gave me a boost! Well, kinda slapped me in the face telling me to pay closer attention?
Stage 3: Washington to Gainsville. 108 mi. Rolling hills with an overall gradual incline.
Getting out of bed was tough. I felt like I could sleep for another 7.5 hours! Oh well, my stomache would not have let that happen, I was starving. More oatmeal than I knew what to do with, along with some other goodies did me well. We rolled out on the team bus for our 1 hr transfer to Washington. Race start was 11am. My legs were feeling a little fatigued, but not bad overall. We had a short meeting in our bus discussing today?s tactics. This essentially entailed aggressive behavior at the beginning to get into a breakaway and then eventually giving our sprinters (John Cantwell and Cody Stevenson) a leadout for the final sprint. So as soon as the race began, we had riders covering moves. I was kinda silenced from this group because I kept getting boxed in and was unable to position myself toward the front for attacking. Finally Jesse came over the radio and gave me some encouraging words ?okay, I want to hear the race director call over the manager?s radio that JARED BARRILLEAU of Jittery Joe?s is up the road in a break.? This gave me that final energy to surge to the front and launch an attack. So I did. It was perfectly timed and beautifully executed. Only attracting the attention of one other rider I was away. Unfortunately, this other rider was a strong Team Astana rider. After a gap of about 100 meters, the pack began to chase. A matter of seconds passed and I was engulfed by the pack. Oh well, my spotlight was brief but sweet! After this, attacks went until about 40 miles into the race. Finally, a slight hill was approaching and we were on an 8 lane freeway. I started to sense an attack. As I worked my way up, the attack went. I shortly followed and tried to catch up to it. Nobody was on my wheel and I was about 10 meters behind the four ahead. For the next two minutes I gave it my all to attempt to get into their draft and be part of the breakaway. I was about in the middle between a chasing pack and the breakaway. Eventually my legs gave up and I had nothing left. I had to watch the break disappear up the road as I fell back into the pack. As soon as the break went away, the pack slowed down and took a feed/ pee break. AHH I wish I could have made that breakaway? SO CLOSE! Anyway we went soft for about twenty minutes and Toyota-United teamed up with CSC to start to reel in the break. A few miles after this, an unfortunate Slipstream/Chipotle rider found a one inch wide gap between lanes on an overpass. His front wheel dropped in and immediately locked up. At nearly 45 mph, he went down extremely hard. This caused a three man crash. The other two guys finished the race, but Timothy Dougan of Slipstream is spending the night in a local ICU. Fortunately he is in stable condition. It was a tough rest of the race as the pace was super fast! When the pace goes fast, things get really hard because the pack strings out and it is harder to draft off the rider in front of you. This kept up until we caught the break with about 10 miles to go (about 50 miles later). My legs were destroyed! To top this, we were nearing the finishing circuits and this would give way to sketchy off cambered corners leading into short sprint climbs. My already drained legs in conjunction with inexperience cornering at high speeds led for me to get dropped from the main field (here at about 80 of 120 riders). I finished trailing with a couple of riders about 50 meters behind the last guy of the main pack. However I lost 39 seconds because if a rider is gapped off, the time gap is measured from the first rider to cross the finish line. This places me near 80th place overall and 9th place on the Under 25 classification. I could barely think straight after the race.
The massage was very revitalizing, but my legs still feel extremely fatigued. Fortunately, tomorrow is a Team Time Trial on Roadway Atlanta Raceway? (similar to Sears Point) and should be a short 4 laps at 2.5 miles each. However, this will be an all-out effort for the 10 miles? We are not going to be able to hold a candle next to some of these other pro tour team, yet it should be exciting!
A surprise met us as we got to our hotel rooms; we received brand new long sleeve skinsuits with a new design specially made for this race! Before Jittery Joe?s has never gone with long sleeve suits which are typically a little fancier J
Tomorrow?s Team Time Trial starts a little after 1 pm EDT.
A picture of Neil and I on our way up the first KOM in stage 2. Thanks Alex!
Well that does it for me tonight!
Again, thank you very much for all of your kind and encouraging words? I am very lucky to have so much support!
Monica~ thanks for 4wording to all of the fam back in Texas? I miss you guys so much!
Okay.. stage #2.. Statesboro to Augusta. (yes.. where the masters golf tourney is held J )
117 mi ?mostly flat w/ some rolling hills and a pair of short hill sprints at the end.
It was sad to pack our bags and head out of the beachfront hotel at Tybee Island, however our eight hundred grand motorhome bus was a very enticing ride to Statesboro. It was here that we had our team meeting and discussed our strategy for the day.. which was similar to yesterday's. (try to get into a breakaway, and see if we could get our main rider [Neil] into the King of the Mountains (KOM) jersey) This jersey is granted to the first rider to end the stage with the most KOM points and these are dealt out to the first 4 riders across the tops of mountains? more points granted for steeper/longer climbs. This points classification is an ongoing count throughout the tour, however yesterday's stage didn't have any climbing, so therefore no KOM jersey. Furthermore, the next two stages don't have any KOM sprints, so the winner of the jersey today gets to wear it for the next 3 stages. Sorry for the long-winded explanation. After our lil meeting on the bus we departed to Statesboro (a 90 minute trek). The legs were well rested and recovered, and I enjoyed a huge breakfast? so I was exceptionally jazzed about starting. After a few miles of neutral parade around the block.. the race was underway. Right off the bat, guys were attacking and I could tell it was going to be fast up untill a break got away. After about 35 minutes of hanging out in the pack, I started moving up to the front. There was a sprint point coming up and I knew right after the sprint finished I should be aware of a counter attack. Before I knew it I was flying past everybody on an attack myself! From about 15 guys back I put in a really strong effort for about 30 seconds. When I glanced behind me, I saw a huge pack of riders strung out single-file. Unfortunately I didn't get away L ? but within seconds another Jittery Joe's rider countered my move and nobody was able to cover it. Trent Wilson shot up the road all by himself. Surprisingly nobody else had the motivation to bridge up there and he disappeared up the road. The pack soft pedaled for about 5 minutes and Trent put about a minute and a half on the pack? until a BMC rider decided that he wanted to bridge up. Well this basically caused confusion and the pack picked up to a startling pace. Unfortunately our spotlight dimmed and Trent was back with us within a few minutes. Once together a few more attacks went. And failed. After about 50 miles, a Toyota-United rider attacked solo and got away in the same fashion that Trent did. Except right when he attacked, the peloton decided to pull over and water the Georgia landscape. The pack rolled VERY slowly to get a bit of a rest and let Justin England get a little publicity up the road. Surprisingly two riders (no-namers from Jelly-Belly and Marco-Polo) attacked and bridged up to the solo-ing T-United rider. Now with three guys up the road at nearly 6 minutes ahead, somebody thought it wise to pick things up. Who else than Astana! Ouch. They have some speed? Luckily they rode tempo for a few minutes before really turning on the jets. Needless to say, we ended up catching the 3 man breakaway around mile 100. My legs were hurting. AND we still had the hills at the end that I was supposed to lead Neil up. As we approached the hills? I struggled and struggled to make my way up near the front of the group. This is a trick to master without spending too much time in the wind. Unfortunately when I found myself in the top 5 riders? the hill had just started and my legs were screaming! Furthermore, Neil was on the other side of the field from me and I couldn't get in front of him to lead him out up the climb L? so both of us suffered in the wind up the climb and I cracked about 2/3 of the way up only to watch Neil roll over the KOM sprint line in 5th place.(me around 10-15) DANGIT! Oh well.. that effort pretty much silenced any hope of giving our sprinters a lead out in about 5 miles. Just before the end of the race.. we hit another climb (actually the same climb.. we just circled the town streets twice before actually finishing). I didn't check, but I think I went backwards up the hill the second time around. Hanging on to the LAST guy in the pack was my new goal! This I did and ended up getting a second wind only to finish 85th. Ouch. In reality though, I received the same effective time for the day as the rider that crossed the line in 4th place (I was still considered part of the lead group).
Severely exhuasted.. I made my way back to our team bus and relaxed with my Subway sandwich. (Subway is a sponsor of the race, so after each stage, we all get a sandwich waiting next to a recovery drink, diet coke, water, banana, and damp towel.) Ahh? the life!
A short bus ride brought us to our new hotel here in Augusta. A quick shower, massage, and a nap lead into a delicious chicken pasta dinner buffet! Mmm..
Tomorrow is stage #3? nearly the same distance? no real climbing? but the entire day is an overall false flat from start to finish.
Thanks again for reading and the next edition will be a lil' bit shorter so you don't have to spend all day reading about my suffering J
First off, I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of you that have emailed me, phoned me, and texted me with regards to the race. All of your support and words of encouragement really mean a great deal, regardless if you do not receive an immediate response. It really makes me smile to know that so many of you are cheering me on!
As for the trip so far:
Last week I was predominantly off the bike due to a cold. This really had me concerned if I was going to recover before the race started. Luckily the rest paid off and I was well enough to ride our two hour shake out yesterday. This was an exciting ride as we teamed up with Toyota-United to do a spin. They are an extremely diverse and charistmatic group of guys. I was fortunate enough to chat with Dominique Rollin (winner of the SLO stage of the Tour of California) for about half an hour?he and I pulled over to take a piss and had to chase back on to the group. Fortunately the pace was calm J. Toward the end, T-United played a little prank on the youngster as we were rolling in the last 10k to go. We were riding two abreast and next to me at the front was Chris Baldwin of Toyota. Just behind Baldwin another Toyota rider was giving him a shove. I was unaware of this and was struggling to keep up with the increasing pace. Finally after laughter broke out my teamates told me to back off the pace because they were playing a joke. Very funny, how original? pick on the "junior." (my nickname) Other than the ride on Sunday, we basically just hung out around the hotel and had a team meeting and ate food. The hotel scene is pretty remarkable.. every team is staying in the same hotel, so elevator rides with Levi, Horner, and Lucas Euser are common occurrences! We are staying two to a room (Neil Shirly is my roomate).
Stage 1: Tybee Island to Savannah.
72 mi, flat.
It was fast. Even though the first 10k was neutral AND we had about a 5 minute "neutral" section in the middle when a bunch of guys pulled over to take pee? we still averaged 28 mph for two and a half hours.
The race started in front of a screaming crowd gathered near the main beach of Tybee Island. After about 3 k into the neutral section I got a flat. Since our car was near the back of the caravan?(the group of team cars that trails the race), I snagged a rear wheel from Mavic. They were super helpful in making a quick and efficient tire change? it took around 10 seconds and I was rolling again. Catching back up to the pack was interesting. Apparently it is perfectly legal to draft other team cars when working your way back up to the pack. So I did this. It was pretty sweet drafting Astana's team car and jumping up to CSC's team car to do the same J. Luckily I arrived back at the peloton about 3 k before the end of the neutral section. Shortly thereafter the pace picked up significantly? as soon as the lead motorcycle dropped the red sign he was holding up. I was working my way up through the pack when my teamate came on the radio and informed me that my race number mounted to the back of my bike had came loose and was rubbing on my rear tire. So I dropped back to the team vehicle so the mechanic could take a look. Because of my rookie status.. they told me to come to a stop instead of doing the "fix-while-moving" technique you see on tv in the tour. So they fixed the number and I played the game of leap frogging team vehicles to get back up to the pack. Fortunately, the pace really started to pick back up right as I was arriving. Shortly after my arrival I found my way back up near the front and watched a break of 4 roll away. Just then our DS (team director) came on the radio and warned us that the small breakaways can be a serious threat in a day like today. So I immediately jumped and bridged up to the break. My first UCI tour breakaway! ?all 30 seconds of it. Nothing was really getting away at this time. I stayed in the top third to try and stay active. About half way into the race we were nearing a sprint point so I worked up to the top 20. About 4 guys attacked the already cooking pace to contest the sprint. After we rolled across the sprint line, we immediately caught these four riders. As I was pulling off to the right to launch an attack, Jesse (our DS) chimed in on the race radio to remind us to keep an eye out for counter attacks. How funny, cuz that is exactly what I was doing. My first UCI tour attack!!! Haha? it was a pretty nice one, as it attracted the attention of about 10 riders. Unfortunately Chris Horner and Tom Danielson were two of them. Due to this, Geroldsteiner immediately got on the front of the main pack and started reeling us back in. I was half happy about that.. because I have never been so pinned in my life. I was absolutely struggling to pull through in our rotations. It is beyond me how Geroldsteiner pulled it in so quickly.. only about 4 minutes of glory for us. After that, I figured it best to hang out and recover in the pack. Things came down to a sprint finish and our two sprinters ran 11th an 17th. Not too bad. Unfortunately I can't say any of that was attributed to me, but we worked well as a team to get our sprinters safely near the front within the last few kilometers of the race.
58th overall for myself (top ?!!!)
9th -23 and under? of those 9, 3rd for US riders J
After a message, nap, and dinner I am relaxing for our 120ish miler tomorrow !
There is an exciting lil kicker near the end of tomorrow's stage.. so maybe we'll see some action!!