Day 1: Time Trial
2.5-mile uphill time trial. Could write a book about this thing, but I’ll keep it short. The fun part is that we were staying in Devil’s Den for dinner, which is both a beautiful state park and a total cell phone abyss. So we didn’t actually know our results. Leaving town to head to our Fayetteville hosts (going on three years now?) Kevin and Pam’s place. As we’re leaving, both Dave and my phone start going crazy with text messages. One from Luke stands out, but is not particularly printable here. Needless to say, I had an 8:51 and knew that was going to be possible Top 5. Dave got a 9:13, possible Top 10. Luke’s text made us think things were really good, so we hopped online, looked at the results, and I was in 2nd place and Dave was in 14th. Very pleased, very excited.
Day 2: Road race
Hardest road race I’ve ever done. Still trying to deconstruct everything. Lots of attacking, lots of breaks getting away, lots of reeling breaks back in. It was hot. Lots of sweating. Lots of hydrating. Couple climbs that we destroyed. I felt good. Dave got a flat. Had to chase back on. I learned this when he randomly came up to me and said, “My race just almost ended.” It’s so nice to have a teammate. Dave destroyed himself in multiple ways. He had to bridge back up. Then the major climb of the day, Mt. Gaylor, I looked over at Dave and he looked and sounded empty. “I’m hurting,” was his quote, I believe. I felt OK, so I was just hoping Dave could hold on and deliver me to the front on the run-up.
A break of three was away the entire climb, with the lead ballooning up to a bit over a minute. Eventually, after going through the feed zone and still being over a minute back, one of the teams got to the front and hammered it. Man, everyone was hurting, after spending the previous 10 miles climbing Mt. Gaylor, and the 20 miles before that attacking and counterattacking and counter-counterattacking and going with moves that got immediately reeled back and recovering for eight seconds and having to get back in the strung-out field to not get dropped out the back. Hot. Sweaty. Lots of sun.
Dudes were killing themselves to bring back the break. I latched on about 10 guys back, loving that we were reeling the four guys back in. Eventually with about 5k to go, it was gruppo compacto. The selection over the top of Mt. Gaylor last year, according to Dave’s account and the results from last year, was about 25 guys. The next group was eight minutes back. This year was a different story. Despite my efforts, and a couple other guys’ efforts, to make it as hard as possible, there must have been 50 guys still together for that downhill run-in to the finish. The end is uphill, and Dave killed it one last time to deliver me up to the top 10 guys. Quick left-hander, big kicker, legs twitching, seizing, nothing working, I’m passing guys, guys are passing me, and we hadn’t even turned to the right up Dickson Street where the road rises 50 feet in three city blocks. It was everything I could do just to hang on to 12th place. I’m pleased, because my god, there’s nothing else I could have done in that 110-mile slogfest. I was trying to talk Dave into doing the P/1 race. Maybe it’s a good thing he talked me into trying to win this 1-2 race instead. I can’t imagine what the pro race would have felt like. Maybe hell. Maybe worse.