Max kicked off his road season with some epic, windy miles in and around Tooele, UT this past weekend. He won't say it, but he also won the award for most time spent at the front of the pack burning off burrito calories on day one.
Talk on the block has been that Utah is trying to infuse new life into the road racing scene. And Jared Eborn is one leading the way with the Ghost Town Omnium in Tooele, UT – a 3-day, 4-race event (with Sunday thrown in for the extra-thankful cyclist).
I, along with Lindsay, have adopted a bit of new life for racing and holding onto the ability to still braaaaap with the elites while I still can. The Ghost Town Omnium felt like a good fit for variety of terrain and training timelines.
After being an asshole on Strava for a few weeks, I felt ready for this weekend. Day 1 was on a motorpark raceway, with just some gradual elevation changes and easy swoops. The race lined up facing gorgeous snow capped peaks with dramatic setting sun-rays. I would have been happy to just sit there and #sunset, but I had the entire fleet of Canyon Shimano to race (not literally, but it sucked and was a bit ridiculous). AJ-cutiepie Turner was my wingman. I can’t remember what happened initially, but with some trades, pulls, attacks, and missed chances, 4 dudes got up the road, and we weren’t in it. Canyon and Full-time 360 Endurance Magnum had representation, a gap, and were gone. Wanting to exercise so I could eat a burrito, I got on the front and set tempo for most of the race. I tried a short-lived bridge but cramped immediately in the calf, and just continued with tempo. Didn’t contest the sprint since I knew I would cramp. I finished feeling successful and not disappointed. This was just to get the rust off, my inevitable first race cramp out of the way, and set up the sprint for burritos.
Day 2 was a 68 mile death march. The mountains here in Utah are very far apart and form many bowls between their ranges, pock-marked with wind-blocking sagebrush (sarcasm). We started on the edge of one bowl and suffered to the other edge before actually climbing in the pretty-pretty. The wind was OK, but not comfortable. 4 racer break went from the gun. This was not something I worried about because looking at the course map, profile, and wind, I knew there would be some EPIC bullshit to deal with between the 60 and 150 minute mark that would squish rider’s motivations. We caught the break before long, crested the top of the first climb, and descended into the bullshit zone. Canyon made the right turn after the descent, taking wind from the left, and decided that they were Quick-Step and that it would be fun to gutter the pack and run us over potholes. I flatted, 3 other guys flatted, CutiePie flatted, and we spent the next hour waiting in the cold wind for a ride back to the start to contemplate what the desire is to be a recreational elite cyclist.
Day 3 was a return to the race-way but in opposite direction. The wind was a good 20 mph consistently and reminded me of back home on the Sac-town levee. Breathe it in and embrace it. AJ missed the start time, so it was me against every damned racer that decided to skip church on Sunday. Looks like it was 11 racers or so. Canyon was down to just my bud Trevor and climbing talent Mitchell. Got the green light, everyone drifted left, so I gunned it to the right to get the whole hole-shot. Kyle from Plan7 (equally lamenting the previous crit) went with me and we stayed for a lap or so. Once the regroup happened, I was in full agro-mode and did two more attacks without effect. A sneaky move from the back saw 2 riders clear, then me and 2 others join. We had representation and rolled it, taking seconds per lap, working well in the wind changes, and letting fatigued racers take needed breaks from pulling. I like groups like that. What’s effective shouldn’t be undone just because someone gets tired and needs to sit out a pull. One thing I learned on the levee was that I don’t offer draft (even if I try).
The start finish came to be a bit of a drag into a cross-head wind, but it was after a 200m small descent tail wind. Could I win in a sprint? Maybe since I don’t offer draft. Could I surprise them on a small bump into a head wind and sail home? Maybe, but that would be taking a bigger chance and have slower speeds and half a lap to go. I knew we would cat and mouse the back straight, which would mean slow speeds, but a helpful tail wind. Bingo. We were going 25mph, for some reason they gave me a few feet of day light…#wattagebazooka time. “Do it.” Up to 130+rpm, 41 mph with the tail wind, get half way down the finish straight and chill. Felt really good to get the win, but more enjoyable to ride wind with a dedicated group like that and use tactics more than anything else. Thanks to all the dudes in the break and to Jared for taking on some race organizing visions. Happy sailing, fellow kittens…