These last 2 weeks have been quite the blur. A lot of good times, memories and results but hectic and busy nonetheless. Two weekends ago we headed to Clear Lake for the BBB festival and had an awesome time. Did a lot of autographs, interviews, and other silliness but had time to enjoy time with friends and family and fellowship with other riders, too. The race ended up well but was a little stressful at times! Even though there were only 25 or so guys on the start line, every one of them wanted to take it to me and so followed my every move as long as they could. I had 2 allies in the race who helped me bring back a solo break close enough where I could bridge without too much effort and then 3 of us rotated through the last 20 miles before I attacked to come in solo about 2 miles from the finish. Thanks for your help, Lee! Even though victory was not assured until the last part, I knew that my legs were coming around and would be feeling good for Cascade. So, after the race Kira and I flew back to Boulder and then I jumped in a car Mon. morning with Scott and headed to Bend, OR for one of the most scenic and challenging stage races the country has to offer. During the first stage, my legs felt incredibly good and so it was mucho frustrating when I reverted to my old ways and filtered to the back of the pack just before the decisive left turn into the crosswinds. The peloton quickly shattered after the big teams worked together to drill it at the front and form an efficient echelon. I was caught back in the third group with about a 40-60s separating each group. I was able to bridge to the second group at about 5k to go and then tried to recover before the steep 1.2k climb to finish the stage. I finished over 2 minutes back and just like that a podium gc finish was likely out of reach. So, our focus changed to stage wins. From that point on, Glen along with Omer, Jonny, and Ian worked flawlessly to help me reach the decisive points in the stages in good position as fresh as possible. It all worked perfectly on Stage 2 as I was dropped off in the front group on the final climb and was able to attack solo with 1500m to go for the win. My missing the front group the day before helped me get a gap before the heavy hitters chased. That was just enough to hold on for the victory. It is the biggest win of my career and I was so thrilled that it was a total team effort to achieve the result. There are great photos on the Cascade website that do a good job of documenting the guys on the front of the race drilling it to whittle down the field and catch the break. The picture of me crossing the line was good except for that I did not feel like I had time to zip my jersey (so un-pro) and the way that the sun is hitting my helmet makes it look like I have my tongue hanging out. I have been catching a hard time about that one! The rest of the race went well with a good result in the TT and a bunch sprint win in the circuit race. The only disappointment being dropped on the final climb of stage 3. Mr. Nydam showed his mettle with a gutsy breakaway on the final day to snatch the KOM jersey and sneak by me in the gc. I will get you next time you sneaky rat! So, overall, a very thrilling and successful race. Plus, our host family (Robert and Terri)lived in the most beautiful home in all of Bend with stellar views of the Cascades from the deck. They were big-time cycling fans as well. Nice job with the hookup, Omer. After the race, Scott and I hopped into the Toyota once and again made the trek back to Boulder - braving the 90+ heat without ac was almost as tough as sticking with the best climbers in the country in the Cascades. So now it's Toona time where I will be reunited with the full squad (minus Brent whose in Europe and Eddy who is still getting back into things after his crash). It should be a fun, hard race. I'm excited to be lining up with my team again. Thank you for all the congratulatory calls, emails, texts, and blog comments. They all mean a lot. Sorry for the novel, but that was an eventful 2 weeks!
Taking a moment to stretch during a hectic autograph session in CL (I'm the one in the middle, not on the right)
Russ Rayburn of Lakeside Cyclery making my bike race ready for the big hometown race (after 9pm on Fri. night, by the way)
Enjoying some BBQ with the fam at the Clear Lake festival post-race.
An Oregon sunset from the deck of our host family's house