Friday, February 12, 2010

Valley of the Sun, Phoenix, AZ 2010

I had planned to head to VOS right after work on Wednesday but that didn’t happen. On Tuesday night, the cold I have been battling for about four weeks decided to rise up against me. I was up most the night with a terrible earache and a bad sore throat. I decided to go to work and see if I could ride it out. Everything was good until about 2:00 pm. Then I really got sick. Directly after work I went to my doctor to see what was going on. Come find out I have infections in both ears and left with antibiotics.
The adventure finally started Thursday morning at 3:00 am. I loaded up the little Honda Hybrid with my three bikes and headed southwest for some racing. Soon it was obvious that the Hybrid could not handle the wind drag caused by three bikes with bras on them. I had to stop in Raton and put one bike in the car and take the bras off the other bikes so I could at least do the speed limit. From Raton to Santa Fe was socked in with sections of freezing fog. The outside temperature was right at 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Once I hit Albuquerque the fog lifted and the weather started getting much better.

The drive really goes pretty fast. I made it to Phoenix in about 15 hours. Flagstaff had a bunch of snow on the ground but the roads were clear and dry. The major issue came when I got to about 2,000 feet. My head felt like it was going to explode. The pressure from the ear infections caused me to stop in Camp Verde and take some sinus medicine. At this point all I wanted to do was pick up my packet, get to the hotel to take a shower and hopefully have my ears pop. Finally I made it to Landis Bikes to get my packet. Thank goodness my hotel is only five miles from the bike shop. I honestly had to read lips because I was really deaf at that point. This was the first time in my entire life that I had an ear infection. This is what my wife calls a TKO (Typical Kelly Operation).
My luck started changing.
About 9:00pm my head started clearing up and all I wanted to do was sleep. I took some Nighttime Cold and Flu medicine and was unconscious by 10. I woke up at 5:00 am feeling much better and the pressure in my head was gone. Alas I could hear again. I got all my stuff together and headed out to the Time Trial, about 50 miles outside of Phoenix.

The temperature was 48 and felt great. My start time was 10:55:30 but I wanted to ride the course and have time to get ready without being rushed. I hopped on my bike and went right to the course. The course is mostly flat and I wanted to make mental notes where the little rises were and see if there were any obstructions I need to watch out for. I made it the 7.2 miles to the turn and headed back towards the finish. I had a good tail wind at this time and was moving along quite rapidly. With just over five miles left I heard a pop and then the squishy feeling of a flat. I hopped off and noticed that my bike bag was not under the seat. Bummer! It would take me about three hours to walk the five plus miles and this place is really in the middle of nowhere. After about 30 minutes of walking I heard a car coming. I figured what the heck and stuck out my thumb. Thankfully he stopped and picked me up. I have never hitchhiked before so I guess I can add that to the slew of firsts I have had this trip.
After I got my bike set up on the trainer I saw Dean warming up on his trainer caddy corner from me. I stopped over and talked to him a bit then went to start my warm up. I had the timing perfect and I rolled up to the start about five minutes before my start time.

The start is on a trailer and you roll down a ramp to the course. The trip out was directly into the wind and it was a tough go. About a mile from the corner I passed my minute guy, then my minute and a half guy. At the corner I caught my 2 minute man and headed towards the finish. The trip back is pretty much flat and ascending in spots with a slight cross wind. I remained in the super fast big gear and little ring, traveling well over 30mph. I caught my 30 second man with 2 miles to go and finished feeling awesome. I kept to my plan and didn’t bury myself. At the end of the day I ended up 8th in the 40+ and Dean finished 12th in the 50+.

As I sit here writing this in my motel, I can honestly say it doesn’t feel like I even raced today. I know it is not the abundance of oxygen but the great instruction and advice I have been getting over the past couple months. Tomorrow stage two is a road race with a whopping 470 feet climb per lap. My course is two and half laps - 41 total miles. Dean has the same distance. Stay warm on the ride tomorrow.
Rob

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