Training Camp was a long week where we got our bikes, had them fitted to us, did some long training rides and then capped it off with the Tucson Bicycle Classic Stage Race. It also happened to cap off with notoriously poor Tucson pavement cheese gratering half my body.
The Monday after Old Pueblo, we drove up to Phoenix to get fits from fit guru Chris Pulleyn. He has fitted riders like Ekimov, Hincapie, Busche and some jerk named Hartley. To say that he was thoroughly experienced was an understatement. He immediately saw issues I had dealt with for years when I started pedaling and began adjusting them. Apparently, he had been trained in athletic rehab by the British Navy. Also, apparently the reason that my left knee comes out while pedaling, those that have ridden behind me know I do this, is that my piriformis is so tight it’s causing my pelvis to rotate while riding. In any case, he adjusted a few minor things in my cleats to account for this and then looked at me again and didn’t change the rest of my position much at all. Kudos to Greg at the Hub for getting me super close to Chris’ fit. He also said I had the smoothest pedal stroke of anyone on the team, ahem. I didn’t say anything to the guys. We’ll see if they read this. I can’t say enough good things about the guys at Bicycle Ranch and how much they helped us.
We did a short ride that night and then over the next two days rode over 200 miles with Mount Lemmon (23 mile climb) and Kit Peak (same elevation but 11 miles). Hopefully, I’ll upload those to Strava soon. First we stopped by the super high end Bicycle Haus to hang out and meet some customers. They have an amazing espresso set-up. I wanted to set up camp there after I saw it. We had to move on, though. We did the Thursday Night Tribe Multisport group ride which was way too fast after Lemmon and Kit Peak. But, they have a super cool crew there. They’re a Felt and Fast Forward dealer, so not only do they have a cool crew, but they have awesome stuff too.
Finally, we did the Tucson Bicycle Classic 3 mile time trial on Friday. Jamis demolished it. Our best placing was 42nd with Holloway. We did everything wrong in the lead up to the TT though. On our ride over, the weather went from nice and sunny to crazy wind, rain and thunderstorms, so we ended up not warming up. We rode too hard in the days leading up. Also, we raced our road bikes with clip-on TT bars that weren’t perfect. All things considered, it wasn’t a bad start and it meant that we could go for stages rather than protecting a GC spot.
The Saturday race was 82 miles and was basically the famous Shootout group ride loop backwards. It had a little over 4000 feet of climbing. Jamis kept control without ever doing much work. I flatted and had to burn a few matches to get back. Then, on the last 20 mile lap, Jamis sent Luis Amaran off, forcing other teams to chase. First, Astella’s blew their wad, and then with about 10 miles to go, Athlete Octane, that’s us, went to the front to set up Anthony Canevari. Amaran was back at this point, so it was sprint positioning that we went for. The crazy thing was that we were pulling in a downhill crossing tailwind leading into the finish. First, we were cruising at around 40mph, rotating, then we got onto the 2nd to last straight and were doing between 32 and 36. Gradually we lost Chad, Andrew, and Rob. Up to about 4k, it was Daniel Parkman (our Athlete Octane amateur guest rider who is super strong), Canevari sitting at the back of the train, Daniel Holloway and myself. Once it was just three of us rotating, I could tell that I was over the limit. At that same time, the lead car was yelling at the field to get over even though we were clearly on the correct side of the yellow. This confusion put me into the wind at a time when I couldn’t recover, and I dropped with about 2-3k to go. Holloway ended up being last to lead out Anthony, but Anthony lost Holloway’s wheel in the melee at the front of the group, with a slightly uphill sprint into the crosswind. Impressively, Holloway kept going knowing that Anthony was gone and ended up third on the stage!. Anthony was around 11th. Good day. I think we led out too early.
Sunday was called a crit but was really a circuit race of attrition. It had close to 5000 feet of climbing in half the distance of Saturday’s road race. We were to do 9, 6 mile loops. It also had technical turns and choppy pavement with only one road completely close to traffic making it narrow and dangerous. During the race, Anthony flatted and chased back on. I dropped my chain on the climb and had to get off and put the chain back on. I chased as hard as I could, catching on the downhill and weaving through follow cars and motorcycles. It was a tenuous situation. We had the entire team left with just over two laps to go when, all of the sudden, riders started making mistakes as if they were drunk from exhaustion. I bet that they were at the limit from the climbing and being tired – I was. We were nearing the end of the race. I avoided a huge swerve from my right only to have someone crash in front of me and then get plowed into from behind. I can’t really remember exactly what happened other than I lost most of the skin on the outside of my left leg. I was pretty disappointed about my new Zevlin bar tape. Somehow, I hit hard enough that my wheel came out of my frame. That was the end of my race. Holloway went down too. He wasn’t quite so badly off. To add insult to injury, the one EMT at the race had left the medical tent when I finally rode back to the start/finish to attend to other racers.
Luckily, my brother was there. As he’s an Air Evac medic, he was probably better at taking care of me than just about anyone else. We grabbed his car and stopped by Walgreen’s to get Hibiclens, Tegaderm and New Belgium beer. I had a few beers and scrubbed my wounds with the Hibiclens in the shower. The pain was such that I was talking to myself and leaning on the tile wall in the shower short of breath. $50 of tegaderm later, I began to feel ok. After that, we packed up. Clay and I went to the best Taqueria in Tucson called Taqueria Pico de Gallo. It’s not in a good part of town, but my god is it good. Bill Maxwell of Athlete Octane gave me a ride to the airport the next morning after I stayed with former Kenda rider John Parrish’s parents. I was afraid I would bleed on the sheets, but they had been through that before and weren’t worried. The airplane ride home with all the road rash was difficult but couldn’t compare to the shower. It was a fun training camp. I think the team will be very ready for Redlands and San Dimas after all of this. Time for some Athlete Octane for recovery!