After a busy January spent working on the Super Sunday race, I was ready to head south to Arizona for some serious winter training. My new ride, the $1,500 Green Monster, rolled outta’ Boston at 11:59pm Friday 2/6 and arrived in Phoenix, AZ late Monday night.
First order of business was to get on the bike ASAP, since my season would start just 4 days later with the Valley of the Sun stage race. Stage 1 was a TT… I suck at TTs so nothing to report there. Stage 2 was a 92 mile road race, incl. 6 times up a grinder hill. This hill has haunted me in the past… I’ve chased back on down the descent more times than I’m willing to admit. Luckily, this year was different. Despite a big effort to help a friend chase back from a flat, my strategy of moving to the front at the base and drifting back through the field as we climbed worked well. So well that I never got dropped – though I was the last cat through the feed zone (top of hill) at least twice. With 3 miles to go in the race, everyone was together. Too bad the race was neutralized 1km from the line b/c of a crash in the earlier race. Yeah, a 92 mile training ride @ 25mph. Bummer. Stage 3 was a a 70 minute criterium; since I felt good in the road race and am typically a strong crit rider, I woke up very confident on Sunday. That confidence was shattered pretty quickly once the race began. My legs were junk and I was on the rivet from the gun. Within 15 minutes, I was off the back in a group of 8… little did I know that one of them was my soon-to-be roomie in Tucson. Anyway, it was a disaster. The officials yanked us somewhere around the halfway point and generously awarded us all finishing times. But the truth is I got my arse kicked… which is probably the best thing that could’ve happened as I was about to head down to Tucson for a 6-week training camp.