Cedar Hill Rally, Saturday May 10th, 2008

Things just keep getting better….

Remember how last month, I was pretty shaken by the results I got at Ft. Davis, and then sort of rallied to a good spot in the Muenster Rally, finishing 3rd? Well, after a week at  Camp Jemison in Moab, Saturday was pretty spectacular.

Amy and I arrived about an hour before the start, got registered, and then got our stuff all out of the Subaru. I was riding the Cervelo with the Quarq, and I had it pegged to the 705, and the PowerTap 2.4 as well, This was on the Aeolus 6.5 wheels, with Vittoria Open Corsa Pro’s, and I’d put Michelin Latex tubes in there as well.

Looking at the lineup, it was filled with heavy hitters. Brett Crosby, Chopper, Mike Brown, Mark Ross, Chris Hamilton, Chris Powers, Chris Kutach (lotsa Chris’s), a Spaniard from B & B, Ken MacLean from Tenzing, another two Tenzing riders, Jordan Chaney and Ben Sewell, to name just a few. Andrew Popsack of the Pirates, and myself, went out with the lead group, and we were NOT to be disappointed.

In the first 10 miles, I think there were 3 separate breakaway attempts, one that included me and the Spaniard. About 3 miles later, I went out and bridged to Brownie, Hamilton, a Tenzing rider, and myself, and we set up a strong breakaway that took about 7 miles to catch. Apparently at one point we were over a minute up,but Crosby, better known as “The Diesel”, pulled a group of 15 or so back up to us. I was recovering from that effort when Chopper, Hamilton, and the Spaniard went off the front, and got away. Mirage ended up playing defence, and since I was in Pirate gear, we weren’t able to work together too much. We kept it within 1:00, to 1:30, but never quite got ourselves in there to merge, though we were really getting close at mile 45 or so. That’s when we caught the Spaniard.

Brownie threw in some really hard efforts about then, along with Chris Powers, but this time I was actually able to stay within 3 bike lengths of them, and though we’d cracked about half the rest of the field, Crozzy, Brownie, Powers, Kutach, and some others were still there to provide the watt-power. I took a TON of hard pulls, and felt like we were getting closer. Powers rolled up to me about mile 52 or so, and said “If they get a light and we don’t, they’re gone.” I replied, “Man, I’m doing everything I can!”, and he chuckled and said, “Yeah, you really are!” So I took that as a compliment!

Then it happened. Around mile 54, just outside of the Venus Cement Plant, we were within 30 seconds of the 2-man break, when I suffered a complete blowout of my front tube. Latex tubes don’t really go flat – they’re always losing air to some degree. But when you get a puncture, it really does sound like a shotgun in the peloton, and it can be a risky venture to bring yourself to a safe stop. I was in the middle of the pack when I lost the tire, and it immediately blew the bead off the rim. I was worried that the tire might get wrapped around the fork or brake pads, so I threw myself back and began letting the bike slow down on its’ own, applying just the rear brake. I got a lot of “Wharton, hey, great ride man!” and “Sorry, Wharton, good ride!”, but for me, it was over. I told them thanks, fell back, and started replacing the tube.

It’s funny, when you’re on the sidelines after a 2 hr 15 minute beatdown and festival of speed. People ride by, ask if you’re okay, then roll on. They also chuckle and talk among themselves about SAG wagons, the hot dogs at the front, etc.

I started rolling out just about the time that Ben Sewell came by. We rolled in together, had a good time just talking, and I came across the finish line and in to the reception area to a sort of chorus of ‘attaboy’s and ‘holy crap, you were on fire today!’. So, it’s nice to feel some vindication. The training is going well, I’m more inspired than ever from the racing/training and fitness, and now I just hope and pray that I can actually make it work to the point where I have a good result in Oregon, and I also do well in some of the summer events down here in Texas. If not, well, it’s not the end of the world, but I have to believe that if I’m hanging and pushing the envelope in the company of some of the best riders in the state, that maybe, just maybe, I can pull off some strong finishes this year.

The rest of the season awaits…. And my goal of 4.5 w/kg is edging closer.


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