Monday, September 10, 2012

Gateway Cup

Gateway cup is an awesome event with good crowds and stiff competition. It is the last event on the Mercy Calendar for the year and the last time I will see most of my teammates until training camp 2013.  A few pro teams show up every year and this year our squad was ready to handle everything any of our competitors could throw at us.

The scary part was that the remnants of Hurricane Isaac were set to rotate over Saint Louis for the entire four day race weekend. This would mean that there was a 100% chance of rain for the first 3 days.

Given that most of our boys are pretty good at technical crits, are awesome in the rain, and all had Michelin Pro Fours strapped to their State Wheels, we weren't nervous at all, just ready.

The first two days are known for bunch sprints and that is exactly what they were. Mercy met at the front of the pack with a handfull of laps to go to lead out Zack Allison, our designated heavy-weight sprinter and all around badass. He has a number of great results in races such as Joe Martin and Collegiate National Championships this year. Unfortunately, he barely missed the podium and ended up fifth. But I swear, he's a badass...

He would prove this the next day at the Tour de Lafayette. The rain poured just before the statt but let up as we were racing. The course was starting to dry out just a bit  and our lead out train was in full force again, lining up next to Jelly Belly in the final laps. We would score a 3rd (Zack) and 4th (Shadd Smith) on the day and easily the top amateurs in the bunch.
Zack on the podium

The third day, known as "the hill" sometimes offers an opportunity for a break, but not this year. Zack was sitting 5th in the omnium and Shadd 9th, so, we could not let Zack miss any moves with GC threats in them. It was dry for every race and even the start of ours. But of course, about 30 minutes into our race the heavens opened up again and spewed water from the gulf of mexico all over the races. It's not so bad starting a crit in the rain, everyone usually has rain pressure in their tires and rides slightly more cautious. But when it is dry at the start people get ballsy and start to put more pressure in, thinking they will go faster. I, for one, along with my teammates, let quite a bit of air out and rolled around at ~75psi. (You can't win a bike race on the ground).

The race was super aggressive from the start but nothing would even get close to sticking away until the rain started. Most of the Mercy Squad was at the front and had no problem making the splits. But there was just too much horsepower left in the field and, yet again, the race would come down to a fast, downhill sprint.

The results weren't as good today as a crash happened with half a lap to go at the front of the field, and dismantling what was left of our leadout. Zack still had his own sh*t together and would end up 8th.

Benton Park was the last day and a course for those who love to suffer. Steve Tilford thinks that the course feels like an uphill headwind...the entire time. I, for one, love the course and was seeking redemption from last year. I slid out on a manhole cover with two turns to go, effectively crashing out of the break.

This year would be different, I was sure to avoid the manhole cover every single lap and would find myself in a 6 man move containing the likes of Pat Limoux (Kenda), Brian Jensen (my break away buddy from Tour of KC), Sean Mazich (Jelly Belly), Nick Chevally (Gateway Harley), and Robert White (RACC). The field started splitting almost immediately into the race. The break rolled about quickly, about 15 minutes in and would eventually be joined by Chris Kriek (another Jelly Belly). I was nervous about working in the break without Zack there and didmy best to sit on until we were absolutely gone from the field. I figured ack was just marking Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) and Isaak Howe (Kenda) who were leading overall. There were no GC riders that would screw up Zack's overall standings so I started to pull more.

Everyone was fairly civil and worked well until the last 3 laps or so. Jensen would try attacking from a distance to try and avoid a sprint at all costs. Nick countered one of Jensen's moves with about 1.5 laps to go and would stay off until the last half lap. We swallowed him up as Chris Kriek countered, he got no room to play s=and came back pretty quickly as Jensen released another haymaker. I followed his wheel but the group was pretty much in tact behind me. This was my mistake. I was stuck on front when I should have been following Mazick, the other Jelly Belly guy. When Jensen came back the group slowed down to about 15 mph with less than half a lap to go. Mazick shot out of the back of the group like a missile was strapped to his back and no one chased. That would be the race winning move.

Rob White, who I was mistakenly least concerned about attacked on the down hill going in to two corners to go (exactly where I crashed last year. Chris Kriek followed with me and Pat on his wheel. Pat countered and I was able to jump on him and follow through the last two corners and into the sprint. I wanted Pat to go for 2nd but he started to fade about 300 yards from the uphill finish line. I hesitated (not wanting to lead out Kriek and White) and figured Kriek would be the first to come around.

Rob pulled a fast one and went early all the way across the road. I was patient and stayed on Pat as he jumped on Kriek's wheel, who was closing in on Rob. Rob would hold it to the line for second and I would come around Pat, but not Kriek, for 4th. It was a good finish but I would have loved a podium (next year).

Sprint for 2nd
Mercy had an amazing weekend and raced excellently for guys who don't get paid to race their bikes...yet. Zack would end up 6th in GC (top amateur I believe).

Here is a link to the write ups from cycling news.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tour of Kansas City/Tour of Lawrence

A few of the guys became sick at Nature Valley...maybe it was all of the slogging through road grime and cow manure on the menomonee stage? Four of us were staying at Adam's between the twin cities and the Tour of Kansas City the following weekend. I decided to pull the plug on Nationals that same weekend after falling ill. Maybe getting some forced rest was good for my legs as I swept the tour of KC that weekend. Winning both crits and taking the omnium. My team raced amazing and it felt good for everything to come together again. Those wins made it four and counting for the season. Shadd Smith rode excellently and ended up 3rd overall with Brian Jenson (Tradewind Energy) coming in second both days and overall.

The next race on the calendar was the Tour of Lawrence. I love the race and was eager for redemption after a second in the first stage and an 8th place in the circuit race the prior year.

Redemption would soon come as I strapped on my State 38's than my usual 58's and won the Street Sprints the opening nights. But I would fall short on the circuit race after a few blunderous mistakes ending up 8th once again. Oh well, it will give me something to work toward next year. I do have to say thank you to our support crew over the weekend though. It was well over 100 degree on one of the hardest circuits in the country. My dad flew in to town to watch/help out and did an amazing job along with Alyson handing up bottles and working a great splash zone.

A break went in the Crit which we had 3 Mercy riders in. I have no idea how it came back seeing as 3 Elbowz riders, 2 Horizon Riders, Stephan Rothe (Tulsa Tough) and Brian Jensen (Tradewind) were also in there. I would end up 9th in the sprint.

Tulsa Tough/Nature Valley

My legs started coming around again as Tulsa neared, I was getting some good local results with several top tens through the Texas State Crit weekend. Tulsa tough was a good weekend to gear up for Nature Valley. I really wanted to do well there but it ended up being a wash. The TT went ok, the third stage was cancelled due to a torrential downpour, and I got sick the day of the fourth stage. Being a six stage race, the rest of the race was not that fun. Menomonee, the fifth stage, was a 100 mile road race with some pretty good climbs in it. Unfortunately, it rained for a good bit of the time, which was absolutely amazing seeing as how I was already fighting some sort of respiratory sickness. I continued through the last day, one of the hardest crits in the nation, to finish off the race. I have to send a shout out to Rob and Bekka Legler. They graciously opened their house up to our entire team, mechanic included, for our stint in the Twin Cities area. They were amazing hosts and somehow, I am pretty sure I gained weight by the end of the trip due to Bekka's amazing cooking (despite being sick and racing a stage race).

Monday, May 7, 2012

Joe Martin

Having no idea how my body would react after the disastrous Tour of Hermann, I was pretty nervous about Joe Martin. We were looking to ride for Austin Vinton over the weekend, but unfortunately he broke his collar-bone the past weekend. He had surgery to put a plate in and is already back on the trainer. So, we went into the race with only 7 riders. I spent the 3 days between Herman and Joe Martin in Lawrence, Kansas with my coach and owner of Source Endurance, Adam Mills and left early Thursday morning for the afternoon 2.5 mile uphill TT (averaging 6.5%) that afternoon in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I had a long warm up and preride up the climb but still did not feel on top form. I ended up turning out a 9:12, slightly off my goal pf a sub 9 minute time. This put me in 10th overall. My teammate, Zach Allison, had a great ride and was sitting in 7th with a 9:05. The winning time was an 8:44. 

First Road Stage
The second stage was a 110 mile road race through northwest Arkansas. I ended up in a six man break 20 miles in. Luckily, Nick Coil made the break as well and was putting in a lot of work to keep me out of the wind. Coming to the first feed zone (47 miles in) the break had whittled down to 4. Jacob Rytlewski (Astellas Oncology) was absolutely drilling it with Brian Jenson (Tradewind) and Nick. One of the Harley Davidson guys and a Bissel guy were just sitting on since they both had GC guys in the top five who were not represented in the break. Luckily Mat Ankney Bridged up after Brian and Nick left the break. This gave me hope that no teams would really chase since every big team was represented. For the next 2.5 hours I hated life. I never felt really strong and was doubting my ability after the previous weekend.

The time gap slowly grew throughout the race. There was a 9 mile climb (mount Gaylor) around 72 miles in with a false flat into a cross wind section leading into town to finish the race. It sucks because there is no real descent after such a long climb, it is a total buzzkill and in no way benefits a skinny guy. Before the race, Adam and I had discussed tactics and he believed that a break would need at least four minutes on the top of Gaylor to be able to stick over the last 30 miles of the race. That is the only thing I focused on up until the base of the climb. Rytlewski  gapped himself off the front of Ankney and I so I just rode tempo up the climb, sitting ten yerds behind him for most of it, and not going over my threshold. I finally started feeling better about halfway up Gaylor, as we hit 2500 kilojoules of work.  The small group would need to be together at the top in order to stick the move to the finish. Our group of five did not receive a lot of time checks at all, but we were informed by the Moto-ref at the top of the climb that we indeed, have four minutes on the peloton.This gave me some excitement and motivation but I know it would be a painful ride in to town and had no idea what was going on in the group behind us.

We didn't recieve another time check until about 6 miles outside of town when I turned around to see of a group of ~10 riders coming fast. I had no idea how they caught us so fast but geared up for a hard final run in to town. It turns out Masters national TT champ, Jonathon Jacob, was taking 37 mph pulls to bring his teams GC leader up to our group. Fortunately in doing so, he dragged Zach and Adam up to us as well. When their group caught ours the race was on. The last 6 miles were just attack after attack after attack. Adam eventually got a gap on the field and I thought he may stick it. A bissell guy bridged to him but would not work and they were caught about 2K from the finish. It was now my job to lead Zach out, there were two short, punchy hills followed by a right hand turn and a long, uphill drag to the finish. I drilled it up the first hill, Ankney got on front and drilled it on the down side and up the second hill. Jacob Lasley jumped over the crest but Ankney kept the pace up. As we hit the right hand corner Ankney jumped from the front and I followed and came around him. With about 200 meters left Lasley still had a gap of about 10 bike lengths. Zach came flying past me but couldn't catch Lasley in time. He finished 2nd on the stage, grabbing a 6 second time bonus about 1 bike length behind Lasley. The stage reshuffled GC a bit. Zach moved from 7th to 5th on GC. I moved from 10th to 7th, and Adam moved from way down to 13th.
Second Road Stage
After an amazing meal provided by the Mercy Fitness Center and a good nights' sleep a 92 mile stage awaited us. The team was sitting well in GC and we were confident to make something good happen. The lolly-pop course consisted of a ten mile out, followed by 3, 24 mile laps, and ten miles back into town. Each lap had a grueling 3 mile false flat leading into a climb called the "Gutenburg Wall" followed by a stair-step cimb that lasted about 6 miles.  Surprisingly, the break went about 5 miles after the climb when a group of ~6 riders went off the front. These six included two Mercy riders, Jason Knight and Adam Mills. It was a pretty good situation as for us as we had the highest GC guy in the move, which put Adam as the leader of the race on the road. The break rolled through the second lap but an organized chase by Astella's and Harley Davidson ensued halfway through the 3rd lap, with about 20 miles left in the race. The time gap of ~1.5 minutes started dropping as two teams rotated on the front at nearly 30mph.

The break was caught about 5k from the finish as the pace only got faster. The run into the finish was a complete cluster. The course was to fast to really have an organized lead out that would get swarmed. the plan was for Dylan to lead Zach out while I swept his wheel. Unfortunately in the giant washing machine of a field, Dylan, Zach, and I lost contact with each other as Tulsa Tough organized on the front. With a momentary lull in the extraordinary pace I saw a gap and shot off the front, I had about 500 meters to go put just could not pedal fast enough to hold off the charging field. I got swarmed but Zach ended up 2nd in the sprint, gaining another 6 second time bonus that moved him up to 2nd overall, 5 seconds off the leader. He was less than a tire length from winning the stage. Adam stayed 13th and I stayed 7th with only a 50 minute criterium left.

The forecast threatened rain. I wasn't too worried about that as our team is pretty good in the wet stuff and our new sponsor, Michelin, is known to make the best rain tires on the market. I've never felt extremely confident in wet conditions until I had a set of pro 4's.

If it rained our tactics were going to ride tempo at the front of the race with Bissell, and aim for a sprint (which Zach would have a pretty good shot at winning). The weather held out though, and we changed the game plan to be in every move that contained Astella's, Harley, and Bissell. We did not want to have to chase anything. This was going to be tough as we lost two very strong riders, Nick, and Tom through a little bit of bad luck and severe dehydration. We only had 5 sets of tired legs left.

The course was a doozy. It was an eight corner crit in the sape of an "L" with a climb through the start finish. Unfortunately, about halfway through, a threatening move of 5 riders containing every before mentioned team and Brant speed went off the front. At that moment only Zach and I were in any position to make something happen.  The group had about 12-15 seconds on the field up the false flat before the turn to the finishing climb. I accelerated from about 10 wheels back and drilled it after turn seven, all the way up the false flat, up the climb, and through the first two turns on the top part of the course, shutting down the break but frying my legs for the latter half of the race. I looked back to see a split in the field, but the break would no longer work together.

There was a momentary lull in the pace and Adam and Dylan thankfully came back up to the front of the group. They controlled any moves that went off until about 3 laps to go. At that moment there was a crash that split the field. Zach was in front of it but Adam, Dylan, Jason and I were all behind. Fortunately I was able cut inside, get around the mayhem, and bridge back up to the group of abour 15-20 riders. This was not a bad situation for Zach and I. but, unfortunately, lady luck was not on our side. Up the start finish and through the first two turns Zach felt his tire going flat. I saw him pull over and quickly made the decision to keep going. Adam was in the group right behind us and it would be stupid to have the two top GC riders on the team stop. Adam gave Zach his wheel. (He couldn't give him his bike because they run two different pedal systems (argh). Dylan and Jason stopped to try and get Zach back on but he lost 1.5 by the time the race was over. We need a pedal sponsor...

Talking to the refs after the race, we found out that if Zach would have went to the pit he would have been given the same finishing time as the group he was in when he flatted. We had no idea of knowing this as the pits close the last 5 laps of a crit...which is a little confusing. The officials then informed us that if any official had seen Zach get the flat, he would have been given a prorated time. Unfortunately for us, the moto ref at the back of the pack failed to notice two Mercy riders standing on the side of the road trading wheels in the last 6 minutes of the race.

The race ended in a sprint with nothing too exciting and no other GC contenders changing positions. 

The result of this was Zach dropping down to 14th place, me moving up to 6th place, and Adam remaining in 12th. Although our race went to crap as late a possible, it was a lot of fun and a great experience.

April, Marriage, and Tour of Hermann

April was a pretty big month for Kelly I. We had our wedding day on April 13th. The day was perfect, beautiful indeed, but nothing compared to how beautiful she looked in her dress. We couldn't go on a Honeymoon right away because of the Facebook Global Sales Conference a week later for her and a heavy racing schedule for me. Tour of Hermann was was the 21st and 22nd. I had close to two weeks of no riding surrounding the wedding and had no idea how my body would react going in to a 3 stage race.

Friday's TT was not that great. Since it was an omnium (placing was based off of points in each stage and not overall time) and I didn't have a TT bike there I decided just to ride it tempo and push the last 10 minutes to get in an effort that might be similar to that of the Joe Martin TT the following week. About 15 minutes in to the 14 mile TT I got some sort of long hair stuck in my was an absolutely terrible feeling. I just couldn't wait to just get the stupid thing over with in order to get the blasted hair out of my eye. It turned out to be a foot long blond hair partially caught in my sunglasses and ended up scratching my eyeball...disgusting.

Later in the day was a pretty brutal crit that my coach compares to Snake Alley. It's basically a rectangle exactly 1 mile in length. One of the long sides is a climb while the other is a quite nasty decent full of potholes. The first three laps of the crit offered up KOM points to the first four across the start finish. I figured the course suited me so I had a good chance to grab a few of them.  The result of the first three laps was 2 guys tied for 1st in the KOM classification with me sitting in 3rd, 2 points behind both of them....not the best, but not bad. The break went on lap 3 of the crit, I was pretty cooked from the fast start and sprinting up the climb three times fighting for points. Joe Schmalz, Austin Vinton, and Austin Allison got away through the start finish. A small chase group containing Nick Coil went right after. Adam Mills and I figured we were sitting pretty nicely with 2 of the seven guys up the road being Mercy riders. Joe ended up winning with Vinton coming in second, Austin Allison in 3rd and Nick Coil in 4th. It wasn't a bad day for the team.

Sunday was a brutal, 90 mile road race consisting of 3, 30 mile laps with 2 KOM sprints per lap. I grabbed the first and second sprints, which virtually put me in the KOM jersey, but also hurt pretty bad. Chris Wynn (Horizon) and I were duking it out pretty nicely when Justin Macikowicz went off the front solo halfway through the second lap....he would go on to win the KOM jersey by grabbing most of the points in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, KOM sprints. No one was chasing him. The field was just letting him bake and I wasn't going to waste my energy doing so.

Halfway through the second lap, while sprinting for a KOM, Austin hit a pothole and went down, breaking his collar-bone pretty badly. This took away our GC hopes, leaving us with nothing to go for but the stage win. 66 miles into the race something happened to me that hasn't happened in quite some time...I completely and utterly fell apart. I think it was from all the time off I had taken and just jumping straight into a brutal road race, let alone stage race. I couldn't hang on the attacks up the climbs, missed the winning split, and counted down every tenth of a mile on my garmin for the last 24 absolutely sucked. I was hanging on the back of a group of about 10 riders for the last hour. My average power was only 130 watts for that hour, I physically could not even rotate through. To give you an idea of how much that sucked, the average power for a nice endurance ride hovers a little over 200 watts. I seriously thought about throwing my bike in the ditch and hitchhiking back into town. It made me feel a little better with with the Masters National TT champion, Jonathon Jacobs, looking to be in about the same situation I was in.  I finally finished coming somewhere around 17th, hating life and ending up 3rd in the KOM classification.

This made me have some serious doubts about the upcoming weekend.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Come and take it

All in all, the crit/road race/omnium down in Gonzales, Texas went pretty well. The race was really well organized and the payout was one of the best in the state.

Coming away from the crit taking four cash primes and 2nd place overall left a pretty good feeling in my chest. The short version of the story is that a break of 8 got away about 20 minutes into the race. a chase group was constantly...chasing, which consisted of another group of 9 or so. The big guns in the race were Cole House (5th at Gila last year) and Ivan Dominguez (Ex-Pro Crit Champion). From the looks of it Cole house was leading the charge to bring the chase up to the break, which he succeeded in doing, twice. Personally, I didn't feel like having to deal with Cole in the break so each time he made it up, I attacked and forced a reshuffle.

I picked up two $50 primes in the first half of the race. With about 8 laps to go the pace was pretty fierce and people really started suffering. Our lap times hovered around 2:15-2:30 for the one mile laps. I decided to put in a dig around the last two corners and into the tailwind homestretch. Coming through the start finish to see seven to go I had about 8 seconds on the group of 7-8 behind me. The announcer called a $200 prime and I decided to go for it. How I felt after that effort would be a problem for future me, present me saw $200 for 2 minutes of work. I held the around 12 seconds and got the prime. Six laps were left and I figured the group behind would not be very motivated to chase that long from the finish so I decided to put my head down and take a chance. Three laps/miles later and pushing a little under 27 mph my gap was floating between 15 and 20 seconds.

Looking up from gnawing on my handlebars and coming through the start finish with 3 laps to go I looked back to see current national crit champ David Wenger bridging up. This was a welcome site because he was the only one with a teammate in the group behind and I knew the chase had a good chance of becoming disorganized if he was with me. This was a both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because my legs were hurting like hell! I could really feel every bit of the rather unpleasant 92 degrees that it was. My body wanted to shut down but I didn't want to leave that day feeling as though I didn't give it my all.

He pulled through hard I pulled through hard, we decided to split the $400 gamblers prime. We had the common goal of not getting caught and would share that until the last lap. If we didn't work together there was no way we would stay away. With 1.5 laps to go my body was completely fed up. He wanted no more of this debauchery of pain. I told it to shut up one more time but my legs pretty much stopped pedaling. Simply put...I could barely pedal, I wasn't cramping but definitely was overheating. We weren't going insanely hard, my average watts for the last 7 laps were around 320. Wenger attacked about 300 meters from the finish to seal the victory. I awkwardly forced my bike over the line to take 2nd and immediately looked for ice/water. My body was covered in goosebumps. I'll write about the Road Race and omnium tomorrow...I have a lot of wedding planning left to do before the big day...exactly one week away!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Training Camp and Hell's Kitchen

Mercy Cycling Team had our annual training camp March 15th-18th. I had the pleasure of staying and catching up with Mario Arroyave (an old teammate) on the way there. The guys traveled to the team's headquarters in Fort Smith, Arkansas from all over the states. Five came from Kansas, threes from Colorado, one from Illinois, and one (me) from Texas.

Top of Cavanal Hill
Talamina Drive
The next three days consisted of a lot of riding, getting to know some of our sponsors, and a lot more riding. The team toured the Mercy Fitness Center and was introduced to some of the staff around the Fitness center and hospital.

Some of our rides included riding 35 miles to and from Cavanal Hill, a five mile climb up the "World's tallest hill" (it's two feet short of being classified a mountain)d. It was a pretty steep/brutal climb but nothing terrible.  We rode a 120 mile trek over the Talimena Scenic Byway. With about 9,000 feet of climbing the day was a tough, but amazing and fun experience. For the third day we rode with the Mercy Cycling Club for a 60 mile scoot to Sugar Loaf Lake. We didn't want to push it to hard in order to race well the next day.
Talamina Drive

The final day involved Mercy slaying the Hell's Kitchen road race in Hogeye, AR. It was a 73 mile course consisting of 3.5 loops. Each loop had a pretty devastating climb. The finish was at the top of the fourth time up it. The team went in to the race looking to make the most of splits in the field and not ride extremely aggressively. What wasn't planned was for a break to go at mile one...again. Zach Reed (Dogfish Racing) attacked hard right out of neutral rollout. Steve Tilford (Tradewind) followed and Dylan Jones (Mercy) jumped soon after. I followed Dylan and we made it across. I could definitely feel the nearly 25 hours of training earlier in the week and a nice warmup would have been great...but that didn't happen. After rolling through we noticed that Austin Vinton (Mercy) had jumped clear of the field and was bridging up with Jim VanDeven (Dogfish). After they made it across, our group was rather organized for the next few miles. The moto-ref informed us that we had a gap of nearly 2 minutes after only 5 miles of racing. Upon hearing this, Steve decided he was going to sit on, which was smart being as outnumber as he was. Unfortunately, Dogfish did not want Steve sitting on and refused to fully commit at this point. The group slowed and the field began gaining back time when Dylan jumped clear of our group. Jim followed him and they instantly had a decent gap. Austin put in a small dig to try and get clear of Steve and Zach but they followed. When they caught Austin, he sat up and put them in the gutter. When I saw the situation they were in I jumped from the back of the group and quickly bridged to Dylan, making it two Mercy guys and One Dogfish rider. Steve, Zach, and Austin sat up. This all happened before 10 miles into the race.

After a bit of finagling, our group started working really well together. Dylan took the Clif KOM prime at the top of the first time up the finishing hill. We rolled clear, establishing a gap of nearly 7.5 minutes over the field. Fast forward to 70 miles in to the race. Dylan and I decided that the best way to beat Jim would be to go at the bottom of the finishing hill the last time up it. He was a good sport in that e was working with us and we didn't want to absolutely screw him in the end. I put in a little dig and got some separation from Jim, while Dylan sat on his wheel. I grabbed the win while Dylan and Jim were duking it out. It seemed as though Dylan was going to take second when somehow became stuck between gears, unable to pedal on a 13% grade hill. He got it figured out without unclipping but was no longer able to take the second spot on the podium.

This was OK though, Austin Vinton (Mercy) rolled in ahead of Brian Jensen (Tradewind) for 4th place and Adam Mills (Mercy) grabbed 8th. Mercy ended up 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 8th! It was absolutely amazing having a team that works so well together and is not greedy for results. It is going to be an amazing year that I cannot wait to see unfold. I really have to give a shout out to Dylan. That kid rode amazingly and I couldn't have asked for a better teammate in the break, thank you Dylan.

Pitch Fork "Trophy"
After the race I had to jump right back on the road for the 8.5 hour drive back to Texas. Special thanks to Jonny Sundt for giving me a place to rest for the night on the way back to Austin!

On another note, the quote of the day goes out to Adam Mills. After the race we were discussing how it had unfolded. Adam informed me that another racer had asked him who Mercy had in the break.

Basically, the conversation went like this:

Rider: "Who do you guys have in the break?"
Adam: "Dylan and Colton"
Rider: "It's going to be pretty sweet when Jim beats both of them. Do you think they can stick a 73 mile breakaway?"
Adam: "Let me put it to you this way. When this sticks, it will be Colton's third 50+ mile break in less than a month."
Rider: "Oh sh*t"

race photos credit goes to Biff Stephens!