Sunday, April 6, 2008

A day of firsts

After Walkersville yesterday, I went to the team's "meet-n-greet" and had a blast. A few Amstel Lights were consumed and chatted with members of the team. Got home relatively early and then the rain started. At about 4AM I was half asleep and I could hear the rain outside, still though, I was banking on the weather forecast, for the rain to stop right around noon. The morning came and Jose was on the phone as I was packing the car, and he didn't sound to sure about making the drive to Tysons, but it was Tour of Flanders weekend, and so to the race we went.

The minute I clipped my feet, I knew the legs were recovered from yesterday's festivities. The warm up wasn't ideal with the rain and cold, but still, I managed to stay warm and dry as much as possible. The call was made for the riders to lineup and the ref told me my number was too high. That's a first for me since the girlfriend is pretty good a pinning the numbers, except today. I was starting next to Raymanso he kindly unpinned the number and the ref finished the job. Thanks Ray!

The race was the usual stuff, with guys keeping an eye on lines and giving each other enough space to move around. I went without sunglasses and had to fight the rooster tails for a bit, but I was able to move around without too much trouble. Although the legs felt good, the rest of the systems were not firing at optimal level, so for a few laps I stood on the pedals on the hill and slowly brought the heart rate up to where it needed to be. Tysons was my first race in the DC area last year after moving from Texas and my fan base was very limited then, but I'm happy to report that with my girlfriend, Dani who was there for the beginning, Gary, and some of my teammates, I heard my name out there and it sure helped.

Up the hill and I see "7 laps to go", so I started to work my way to the front, again, saving as much energy as possible and gaining ground with each lap. The next check I did to the lap counter was at 3 laps and I was about 10th wheel, but then I got caught up in the action and lost track of how many laps were left, so with two to go, I went inside on the last turn, and found open space, the guys were stringing things out but I'm sprinting hard, thinking to myself this is it!. People are screaming and I'm thinking at least a podium spot. The bike rolls over the line and I made eye contact with my girlfriend, but it seemed wierd to me that she was jumping up and down. Then I heard her say, "you still have one more lap". WTF!!. Another first one.

"Stay cool man, reload and give it another go!" was my thinking, so I went back in the group, took a few deep breath and avoided the NCVC guy who somehow went down on the first turn. His look was pretty funny (sorry dude!), but I didn't have much time to laugh. Down the hill, and I lined up for the sprint about 15th wheel, but when I stood again wanting to stump the pedals, the legs were like two rags in the wind, so I sat down, greeted the teeth and saw Jose take a fine win. So a day of firsts but with another positive sign that the form is good and my confidence in the pack has reached highs that I haven't experienced for a very long time. Now I'm taking it easy this week, and then back into the action.

We sat around to cheer the boys on the 3/4 and it was a good and bad day for the squad. Jeff won the race with an impressive sprint, but Scott went down hard and although preliminary reports indicate that nothing is broken (but he'll need a new handlebar for sure), he will be out of action for a bit. Wayland and Tom did a good job, with Wayland putting in some digs at the front, while smiling all the time.

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