Week two on the road is well underway. We are currently 30 miles from St. Paul Minneapolis after an early start this morning from St. Louis. Even this morning at six, the temperature was in the 80’s and humidity 90-100%! We all enjoyed our time in St. Louis thanks to many generous people, including most importantly our homestay Craig. He knew all the big hitters in town and showed us around which was great fun. The racing went pretty good too, with the team bringing home the dollars both days despite extremely challenging and unexpected weather conditions. Nature Valley starts on Wednesday with a short 6 mile prologue time trial on road bikes before an evening criterium really lights up the tour (pardon the pun). We are also heading to one of the local hospitals tomorrow so hopefully we get the chance to pass out some Livestrong bands.
June 10th - After Wednesday night in Denver, we took off for Junction City on Thursday morning. After suffering some wind and car troubles, we were unable to ride in the evening; but the biggest shocker of the day was definitely the temperature. We all knew we were in for an interesting weekend when we jumped out for a gas stop in Kansas only to be slapped across the face with extreme heat and humidity. SOUP!
June 11th - After another early morning drive on Friday, we arrived in St. Louis in the early afternoon and after a delicious sandwich at Mama Tosconos (Bill Clinton ate there once!), we took off for an opener ride along the Riverfront Trail. The route was definitely interesting as it followed some very old powerplants with a healthy mix of garbage refuges and scrape metal yards. Despite the interesting scenery, we topped off the ride with a pause at the ARCH. It is HUGE! Made in the 60’s it stands many feet higher than I do!
June 12th - Saturday’s race featured some of St. Louis’ stereotypical summer weather; variable and harsh. It was a battle to just get your bibs on because you just sweat wherever you are, but the venue was great and some topnotch announcers were there to light up the atmosphere. Jelly Belly Pro Cycling also showed up with a full seven man squad and Kelly Benefit Strategies started two riders. Mike, rocking his white New Zealand U23 criterium champion edition of the Rubicon-Orbea kit helped trick other teams into believing that we only had three riders when we actually had four. The course was quite simple, 2.5minute loop of four corners with 800 metre long main straights. Taylor Gunman jumped in a move with two Jelly Belly riders (which should have been the end of the race) but Jelly Belly kept the pace high to mitigate bridge attempts. The break achieved a maximum advantage of 30 seconds before they came back in the final 5 of 30 laps at which time Jelly Belly set up a massive train of riders on the front for their lead sprinter Brad Huff. Taylor played it smart in the break and still had good legs when he came back into the peloton, jumping right in behind the Jelly Belly riders for 7th wheel with Roman, I and Mike following. Various riders attempted to steal the Jelly Belly wheels or disrupt the continuity of our train so elbows where up and the guns were out. In the final lap Roman moved me up alongside the Jelly Belly riders , Taylor slotted in behind me as we went by but got pushed off and had to resort to the gutter through corner through to get back up to my wheel. With Taylor tucked up behind, Roman went nuts out of corner three. With only four Jelly Belly riders left in front of Roman, Mike Friedman (12th at Phili last week) took off at 600metres to go, at 500 metres Roman pulled off and the jets came on. At 200m I passed Friedman but Huff took his place and slotted in half a bike length a head at the line. Taylor threw it down for third and Roman cruised across in 12th. It wasn’t until after the race that we found out that Mike had flatted the last time through the start-finish so most of the sprint I was expecting him to come around. A great result! The majority of the race was held under an extreme rainstorm. The only thing missing was an alligator as it really did feel like that scene out of Jumanji. The rain dissipated the wearing effect of the heat despite the treacherous road conditions it created.
When changing after the race we met a guy named Roger, who turned out to be much more than a curious spectator and helped us through the rest of the weekend. Thanks so much Roger! Roger let us store our trailer in his shop and invited us over for a barbeque on Sunday night, which was very tasty!
June 13th - Sunday’s weather was a little more intense. Now racing a 3mile circuit for a total of 80miles in 91’F, with full squads of both Jelly Belly and Kelly Benefit Strategies, the heat was one. We were very active at the beginning of the race but as the heat sapped our energy, Mike was the only one of us who made the race deciding split. With 6 laps to go, thunder and lightning showed up with a healthy dose of agua to quench everyone’s thirst, which was extreme as many riders fed every lap! In the finale, with the wind hollowing and only a few spectators left, the sky just pouring buckets, Mike brought home a 7th place finish (fifth in the bunch after two Kelly Benefit riders rode away) despite brake problems which compensated his position into the final, double apex 180’ corner. A very impressive ride! Mike’s Garmin computer said the average temperature over the 2 hour 15 minute race was 35 degrees Celsius with a maximum temperature of 39. Needless to say after three of us dropped, we are hopeful that Nature Valley and Superweek will be cooler as we are definitely not acclimatized to racing in such conditions.
The weekend was a great ride and a great warmup for the type of racing intensity we will likely see at Nature Valley. Stay tuned for more undates! Thanks for following!
Labels: Road Report