Sunday, May 13, 2007

Joe Martin: Saturday Road Race

The challenge of the three-day Joe Martin Stage Race seems to be in that between 2:30pm on Friday and 12:35pm on Sunday, you race four challenging stages. Recovery is key. After the Friday road race, we high-tailed it to the Flying Burrito for a recovery dinner. Northwest Arkansas really does measure up: gorgeous country roads, wild green scenery, patient drivers, fantastic people (a clearly biased view gleaned from the no-doubt exceptional sample of host families and race volunteers), a lively downtown Fayetteville, AND a top-notch burrito place. (My new team is just learning that every new race site brings a burrito quest... Good thing the teammates are kindred spirits!) I am almost ready to forgive it for being the home of Walmart, get myself a big Arkansas Razorback license plate, sign up for forty acres and a mule (and some football tickets), and start eating ribs and grits. Once again, bike racing forces me to throw some prejudice out the window. Anyway, today brought a 69-mile road race with some steep rollers, to be followed in the evening by an uphill time trial. Our plan was for Mandy, Andrea, and Robin to force the other teams to work by creating breakaways, and go for the stage win. Hiroko, Kathleen, and I would save ourselves for the time trial. Mandy, Andrea, and Robin rode fantastically: they lit up the race. At one point Leigh was off the front for maybe 10-15 miles, giving those of us in the field a comfortable cruise. Greg was awesome over the radio. Coming into town, Mandy forced a Cheerwine chase by a powerful solo break, which Kathleen countered. Hiroko and I tried our luck but it wasn't happening. I finished 11th, again needing a bit more of a killer instinct in the final sprint. Rebecca pulled out during the stage, needing a bit more training to be ready. The rest of us finished safely in the bunch. We need to work on positioning and countering directly off our teammates' moves, but we are coming together as a team. We zipped back to our host family's house to shower, rest the legs, eat some food, and watch the cinematic classic "So I Married an Axe Murderer" before leaving for the evening time trial. Over at the other house, Greg (shown in photo looking serious) doubling as director and mechanic, prepared 7 bikes for the time trial.

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