I woke up at 4 in the morning on Saturday to the excruciating sound of my alarm. It was time to start the 3 and a half hour drive up to Altoona, PA for the big ol' Toona race that I always hear people talking about.
The drive down was beautiful. I was accompanied nearly the whole time by an almost surreal fog that covered the mountainous landscape of Southern PA. I hate to admit the carelessness of my driving but I couldn't resist the urge to snap a quick picture here and there of what laid right next to the road I was on.
When I got there I realized just how serious this race really was as I looked on at the line up for the Men's Pro1 Race. Bissel, Hincapie Development, Chemstar, Pure Black, and of course the legendary Tim Rugg. The field was absolutely stacked!
After I watched the Pro's ride off the line for the 90+ mile RR like it was the start of a crit, I got to talkin' with a few Cat3 and Cat2 rider's about the course. This is around the time when I realized just how serious my race was going to be. Something I really don't think my body was quite ready for after the week of training I had just had.
On Thursday I met up with Joe Dombrowski to do what I thought was going to be a long but slow and easy ride. 6 hours later in the 92 Degree Sun, with 9,000+ feet of climbing and 105 miles in my legs I was pretty much toast. That ride put me at 250 miles since my Mt. Weather ride on Monday.
With only one day to recover from the long week's riding, and hearing about the 70 miles of mega climbing that I was about to do in Stage 1, my goal went from a top ten finish to just not getting dropped.
The first climb up Blueknob Mountain shattered the field as expected. Guys dropped off left and right and a few got away. By the time I made it to the top there were 5 guys away and 11 of us in a chase. The second climb shattered our chase group, leaving 5 guys behind with 6 of us remaining in what I guess you could call was the remnants of the peloton. It stayed that way until we got to the line which I rolled past for 9th overall.
The Sunday Crit was fast. After finding out that it was too short to be used for upgrade points, my goals for the race changed. My main goal would be not to crash but I also wanted to put myself in a break or two, and also practice bridging up to a break just for the experience. The race went as I had anticipated.
I made sure to put myself up front on the final laps so as to reduce my chances of a possible crash. Unfortunately, there was one but thankfully I was not at all involved. Stupidly, I led the sprint out and rolled in for 7th but I didn't care because overall, I had fun, stayed upright, and got some good training in. I was also able to move myself up to 8th Overall GC with that finish, so I was definitely happy with that.
Although it was one of the toughest I've had yet, it was an awesome weekend of racing. However, oddly enough, my body felt 100% fresh yesterday and my legs were already giving me the green light to get back on the bike today. Being the energetic youngster that I am, I took them up on the challenge. Oh to be young ay? :)