Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Home Again

After Joe Martin, my body was thoroughly trashed.  I had just completed my first two NRC stage races with only 3 days “rest” between them.  So we busted it back to Colorado through the night to our own beds, finishing the drive late Monday morning.

The next two nights I was in bed early for two sleeping-so-well-that-you-have-really-bizarre-dreams nights with 10 straight hours of sleep.  I must say, the basement room with nearly zero daylight incoming does wonders for recovery!

Unable to stay in one place for very long, I took the opportunity of the break in our racing schedule and headed for home, where I would play piano with Alan, a teammate from last year at Ian’s (another teammate from last year) wedding.  Spend a year traveling and racing with a group of people and you become great friends, who knew?

My task for the past month has been to learn the song that we would play, which wouldn’t be too complicated if I had a piano to practice on and music to read.  After procuring a roommate’s USB keyboard, I set to work transcribing the piano and guitar parts by ear and with the help of a youtube tutorial of the song.  What can I say, I like a challenge!

After busting out the 13.5 hour drive with one 10-minute stop, I was home, and it was great to see the fam again.

The next day, Shane and I headed for Austin to get ready for the wedding.  Every day’s an adventure when the Haga boys are together…here we are attempting to close the garage door without getting out into the rain, not thinking it through completely:

In Austin, we met up with our buds Alan and Lawson, who was taking enough time off from being a cycling superstar to attend the wedding.  Feeling we should dress to impress, we hit the strip mall in search of the perfect ties to complete our ensemble (pronounced in the frenchiest accent you can muster).  If you happened to be at that particular strip mall, we were the four idiots sprinting down the street in the pouring rain.  We would not let Lawson busting his butt on the sidewalk-to-tile transition into a store hamper our pursuit of the perfect tie.

Our efforts paid off with amazing ties by Alfani (pronounced in the snootiest nasal voice you can muster).

The morning of the wedding, I jumped on the bike early and rode the 50 miles to the wedding site with the groom and best-man, and we were saved from an impending bonk during the rehearsal by the caterer, who had just finished barbequing some chickens.  Barbeque so good, the smell it left on my fingers survived two showers!

Alan and I shredded at the ceremony, in both our four-hands-one-piano duet and me accompanying him on violin.  My plan of taping the music to the piano to conquer the winds worked perfectly!  That sheet music wasn’t going anywhere.  However, it probably would have been better to tape the pages in the correct sequence, and to discover the mistake sometime before playing it in the ceremony.  Just guessing, though.
Sometime during the next week, I went for a long ride at home.  It was a warm day—nearly 90 degrees, a good 20 degrees warmer than a hot day in Fort Collins right now.  I stopped twice to refill bottles, drinking a total of 170 oz. of fluids in 4 hours, and still overheating to the point that my power numbers looked the same as climbing a mountain at 9000ft….  Oh how my heat tolerance has faded!  It was good to know, though, as that Friday night was a big-money crit in my hometown and I needed money!

On Thursday, my parents got back from their trip to MD Anderson in Houston for my dad’s 12-week checkup, where they learned that he is now “In Treatment, No Evidence of Disease,” which is apparently as close to remission as a an advanced lung-cancer patient can get.  We’ve known from the results of his previous checkups that the trial drug he is on was making significant progress, but even still none of us were surprised at the news (or at least I wasn’t). Ever since his diagnosis a year ago, many many people have been praying for him and we trusted that he would be healed.  Couple this news with the fact that my parents would be seeing me race for the first time since his diagnosis last year, and it was a great time to be home! If you want to read up on my dad’s story, here ya go: canceron2wheels.blogspot.com 

The crit was a lot of fun, racing late at night under the streetlights in my hometown.  I had a front row callup, which is always cool.  Also cool was friends from college coming out to watch the race, and getting to catch up with them a little bit.  Taylor, Matt and Kathleen, Steve and Rita…I met them all when I was a cat 4, just learning how to rotate in a paceline.

I made sure to animate the racing all night long, getting in a break on the very first lap.  Nothing I was in ever stayed away longer than a lap, but it was not for lack of effort.  It’s nice coming down from altitude to race, as it takes approximately 3 seconds to recover from a hard effort (or at least it feels that way).  There were 3 or 4 consecutive laps at one point where I attacked at the same place each lap.  It was clear that I was on a very short leash, though, reminding me of my collegiate racing days….  There were only two two-man breaks all night that stayed away for more than a couple laps, and once I bridged to them, they were caught within a lap. Frustrating, but when the field wants a bunch sprint there’s not much to be done about it.

I kept trying for a break up till 2 laps to go, then jumped back into the field and managed 11th in the field sprint.  Far from what I was hoping, but making a month’s rent in 75 minutes is always good!  10 hours later, I was back in the truck heading for Fort Collins again, where I would have one day to rest and prepare for the next trip—this time to Hood River, Oregon for the Mount Hood Classic.