Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stay Calm and Carry On

Happy Days! Haha, I've been in this sport long enough to know the roller coaster phenomenon all too well. I had a pretty rough spring this year with how frequent and severe that I got sick. First, in March just before my first race of the year in Merced (which I raced with and it progressed to bronchitis and put me out for a full 1.5!). As a result, I had poor form at Redlands from the bronchitis and antibiotics. Then, I was starting to come around in Uruguay when a few of us got hit with Giardia, Campylobacter, and who knows what else. That REALLY put a damper on the form. Even after 2 weeks at home recouping, I was still pathetic at Joe Martin. I was on the ramp up during Tour of the Gila but it was too little, too late for the biggest race of the year on domestic soil, the ToC. Honestly, it wasn't until Nationals that I started to feel like myself again after 3 months of sickness or recovering from sickness. The point of this drawn out, 'woe is me' play-by-play is that I did a pretty good job of staying calm throughout this period of being sickly and worthless (relatively speaking). I just kept telling myself that if I continued to work hard and do things right, that sooner or later the form would appear out of the blue. Not to say that I wasn't super relieved and ecstatic to get my first NRC stage win since July 2009! And then to follow it up with my first ever NRC GC win was icing on the cake and definitely poetic to anyone who knows my history with the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Of course, the GC win could just have easily gone to any other rider on the Optum team. We were not going to give up attacking that Menomonie RR until the right combination of riders were off the front. It just so happened that my attack stuck. So, I don't really like the motto "Stay Calm and Carry On". I've seen it on posters and t-shirts and my interpretation is that it seems to encourage complacency and discourage anti-establishment behavior. Sort of a "Never mind the man behind the curtain" mentality, imo. Regardless, 'Stay Calm and Carry On' was my mantra during the latter stages of the Menomonie RR and the entire Stillwater Criterium. I knew that the GC win was within our grasp and all I had to do was finish it off but it's easy to freak out when you think about all that could go wrong in a heartbeat. I'm on the verge of cramping during the closing circuits in Menomonie..."stay calm and carry on". There is a 6-man move up the road at Stillwater and BJM is bridging to the move...mantra. It's raining and the roads are slick on the downhill technical turns at Stillwater, no free laps so one crash and the GC is gone...mantra. The Optum boys were flawless at Stillwater. I had an Optum jersey in front of me from start to finish. It's easy to stay calm when you always have a teammate with you. My job was easy - follow my teammate. Very satisfying win because it was a complete team effort. Now? Well, now I'm taking a mid-season break. We have some big race objectives in the 2nd half of the season and I want to be fresh and ripping through the end of September. So, it may be counter intuitive to take a break after finally finding some form, but mentally it's been a tough spring with a lot of time on the road and these breaks are as much for mental rest as physical. I guess I can 'force' myself to be a sloth for a 5-7 days. I'm already looking forward to what's next though. I will be heading back to the home town race Bicycle, Blues, and BBQ Omnium in Clear Lake, IA on July 7-8 and then the Cascade Classic on July 17-22. Thanks for all of the support on the racing front and for helping me achieve our goal of raising money for 20 World Bicycle Relief bikes to Zambia! Freakin Awesome!!