Thursday, April 29, 2010

Highs and Lows of Stage Racing

By Jake Hansen
Stage racing can be
a real blast and a lot of fun if you are prepared.

At the Cherry Blossom Cycling Classic, Stephen Bedford and myself were ready for some tough bike racing and fun times in the hotel room.

Being at the front of the pack can be a blast. All the strong dudes stare at each others spandex clad butts and wait for someone else to make a move.

Stage 1 got to be a little boring, so I made some aggressive moves and attacked hard on the hills. I knew that 3 days of hard racing would be to my advantage and I wanted to put some hurt on early.

All my time at the front paid off as Bedford got up front and beat everyone in the field sprint and safely navigated himself to the W. He won a pink/red jersey, some wine and 5 bucks to Big Jim's Diner.

Stage 2 was going to be brutal. I was ready for the pain and suffering and wanted to stay at the front all day to make the winning break. I just missed it on the last climb up the gravel hill. Me and my buddy Patrick Means from
Bellingham pursuited hard in the last 4 miles to try and catch the duo of Hot Tubes and Lenovo up the road. He nipped me at the top of the hill and I ended up 4th at :55 seconds back. Beford barely missed the winning break too and hung tough to get 8th on the day. Sadly we lost the beautiful pink/red jersey that he won the day before.

The time trial had me fired up and I knew with a good time I could hop into 2nd on the GC. My fresh looking Cyclisme skinsuit and Rudy Project aero helmet got me some compliments on the start line. My shorter stem, aero bars and slightly adjusted saddle height all perfectly positioned after an hour of parking lot practice propelled me up the false flat fast in the TT. It was a real blast when Pat Malach was hanging off the back of a motorcycle and cheering for me while capturing some great pics. I got 3rd in the TT and moved into second on the GC behind the Lenovo Boss who won all three Cat 3 races at Sea Otter last week.

The criterium was the final event of the day and IT WAS FAST! I made a few all out efforts to just get up front and they totally waxed me. The pace was hot and the riders were all antsy. I was rather content with my weekend and let myself fall back into the place I shouldn't have, the back of the pack. You don't ever want to be just hanging out here. I wanted to move up but being waxed and scared while also not feeling very hungry to win had me hearing "MOVE UP!" on every homestretch. I wanted to cry. Afterwards I couldn't really enjoy how good a weekend I had because of my poor performance in the Crit.

It was a blessing to have the Directuer Sportife there to keep us thankful and motivated over the weekend. Even after my performance in the crit he understood my fear and I owe a great deal of gratitude to John for helping me get tires, food and a good head on my shoulders for the weekend.

In hindsight I had a lot of successes but know that I have some serious work to do. Cornering at fast speeds in big packs scares the life out of me.

This weekend motivates me to try harder than before and takes me back to the drawing board. How can I improve on certain things? What do I need to keep doing? What do I want to do next? What am I not thinking of that is going to up my game?

Most importantly we must take one day at a time. If it is storming outside do we wait for the storm to pass or do we muster the courage to go dancing in the rain?

I always try to think about how many people out there would love to go dancing in the rain but can't and it usually gets me
moving in the right direction.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Great report Jake! Maybe a Sunday mountain bike outside of Corvallis with sloppy slippery muddy descents will help? It's truly a climbers course though, I think you'll like it.