Here I am sitting in the ritzy Palazzo hotel in Vegas “working” at TIBCO’s TUCON conference. I’ve been on the road for 2 already and I have 1 more week to go. This lengthy trip started 2 weeks ago with the Tour of the Gila in Silver City, NM.
We flew into Tucson on a blustery Tuesday afternoon and then had to hit the road asap in order to make the 3 hour drive to Silver City in time for the SRAM Tour of the Gila press conference. Luckily the speeding incident (Emma has a lead foot when she gets on a roll) didn’t hold us up too long and we pulled into SC with time to spare. 11 riders representing 10 different teams (5 women’s and 5 men’s), all on SRAM componentry, fielded various questions that the MC of the evening, Dave Towle, threw at us about race tactics, the history of the race, what it meant to us to be at Gila, etc. It was interesting to hear the different perspectives from the riders regarding their past experiences and future expectations at Gila.
Stage 1 didn’t really go as planned. A crash in the run in to the climb caused a huge separation and left many riders struggling to get their legs, and bikes, under them again. I happened to be one of the victims. Fortunately I didn’t actually hit the ground but someone did run into my derailleur hanger which bent it all out of shape. When I looked up the road to see the damage to the peloton, all I could see was the race unfolding about a mile ahead of me. Rather then freaking out, I fixed my derailleur hanger and then jumped on my bike, put my head down, and started picking people off as I rode a steady tempo up the long climb. By the end I had caught everyone but 7 people. Given the circumstances I was pretty happy with that, but yet still bummed that I didn’t have the chance to start the climb on the same page. Eh, shit happens.
Stage 2 was nuts. There was wind sweeping across the open highway climb so strong that people were literally blown off their bikes. The ridiculous part was that once they were off their bikes it was too windy to get back on and pedal again until the gust calmed just a little bit. It was utter chaos in the last 20km. No one could ride within a couple feet of the next person in fear of getting blown right into that person any time a gust of wind came whirling through the peloton….or what was left of it. In the end though Colavita figured out how to tame the storm by taking 1, 2, 3 on the stage. Me? I finished 4th, just off the podium.
Stage 3. TT. The wind had died down some but that’s really not saying much when the gusts go from 85mph to 50mph. It was still windy as hell but it all went down without a hitch. I didn’t think I had ridden a very good time so I was beside myself when Emma told me I had finished 3rd. Finally, the podium. I was stoked with that, needless to say.
Stage 4 was the downtown crit. It went something like this – attack here, attack there, nothing got away, field sprint. It was more or less a “rest” day since I didn’t have to exert too much energy during the 1 hour of racing.
Stage 5 – the Gila Monster. This was the day everyone had been waiting for because it is the end all, be all stage. So many things can change on the last day up the Gila Monster – a steep, long climb that can take its toll when you least expect it…which is what happened to me. 5km into the climb and I couldn’t hang on any longer. I got popped and couldn’t make it back to the front group. Instead of moving up in GC I moved backwards. I rode the last 15 miles by myself sick to my stomach that I couldn’t finish as strong as I had started. And never mind the SNOW that made me feel even more cold and alone. Snow? Really? Yeah, really. Cold and disappointed in myself, I crossed the finish line and couldn’t wait to get out of Silver City. I’d had enough of the crappy conditions and my poor performance on the last day was enough to completely crack me. Although the race itself is great and our host family was incredibly hospitable, I was ready to move on and refocus.
After a 4 hours of driving to Albuquerque Sunday night and 14 hours of solid driving on Monday, we pulled into Fayetteville, AR. The next day the sun was shining and the temperatures were warm enough to make us sweat, not shiver. I felt renewed.