Monday, May 28, 2012

What a weekend!

This Memorial Day weekend was a great one filled with great racing tempered by the loss of a champion and paying respect for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

First the racing.  There was my own at the Sugarhouse Critrium, the first Canuck to win the Giro, USPro Champs and an Indy 500 for the ages.

Sugarhouse Crit

I keep surprising myself with being able to keep up with the Cat 3's but I can't quite seem to seal the deal.  I'm great until the last 500 meters where I have been struggling mightily.  I thought I had found my calling as a sprinter, but the last 2 big sprints I have totally missed out on.  Bear Lake I was caught out and at Sugarhouse I was left shelled for the final push.

The Sugarhouse Crit takes place at Sugarhouse park, and undulating up and down circuit about a mile long.  Each lap took about 3 1/2 minutes.  The weather was the big question as the category just prior to the Cat 3 race took place in a cold downpour!  As I was warming up however, the rain stopped and the course actually dried out a bit during our race. 

With 2 significant climbing sections, one at the finish, I knew the race would be tough.  But the climbs were short, big ring types where I've been able to make some moves or at least keep up.  The climbs were fast though and by the last 5 laps I was feeling it.  But the laps were deceivingly long.  I did a quick check of my clock and saw 10 minutes to go.  But at 3 1/2 min per lap, the 2 laps to go sign came up quickly.  10 minutes was going to go by fast. 

With 2 to go, I was towards the back of the pack banging elbows in the crowded space.  But with a few surges I made my way to the front for the final lap.  The mid-lap climb was fast and someone attacked at the top.  I countered and found myself on the front for the final downhill leading to the uphill finish.  There was a stiff headwind which caught me off guard.  I expected a few to come around me and my plan was to take a wheel and sprint from there.  However, there was a horde that came around me and when I went to sprint, I had nothing.  I stalled and watched the group ride away up the hill.

I'm not sure where my sprint legs are but they've left me hanging twice now.  I'm not sure if I have some mental block or if my legs really don't have it.  I think its mental and I'm not taking my own advice from the blog post a few weeks ago.  My focus this week is going hard no matter what that last few hundred meters.  Hopefully with some big digs, we'll make a better showing on the results board.

Giro de Italia

Obviously, I enjoy racing my bike much more than I enjoy watching others race their bikes but this weekend there was some seriously great racing to partake of on the tele.  And though the Giro isn't usually tops on ,y list of must see TV, this year's edition had me glued.  Lead changes, epic stages and an underdog taking the maglia rosa.

Garmin-Barracuda has been steadily making upgrades on the international results tallies since they hit the big time ProTour in 2008.  With Ryder Hesjedal, they landed their first Grand Tour GC winner at the Giro.  But they did it dramatic fashion.  All Ryder had to so was keep it close on the final mountainous stages and then rail the final stage TT.  He ended up losing time on the penultimate stage but then did what he needed to do in the TT and won the overall by just 16 seconds.  To top it off, Captain America himself, Ryder's teammate Dave Zabriskie, took home his 7th US TT cahmpionship.

I love that the Grand Tours are ending with TT's.  It keeps fans cheering until the very end with the final winner often decided in the last race of truth.  With so many TT's coming up in the Tour de France, there will be plenty ot be excited about. 
Indy 500

I spend Sunday's at church and trying to recover from a long week of training and racing.  I'm not much of a stick and ball sports kind of guy so just sitting and watching some sports on TV doesn't happen very often.  But with the Indy 500 happening yesterday, I had a great reason to sit and veg.

I don't agree that Indy has lost its luster.  With multiple engine manufacturers and plenty of talent I think Indy Car racing is as good as it ever has been.  Yesterday's edition had more than 35 lead changes and the win was just about taken by Takuma Sato on the last lap.  But it was now 3 time winner Dario Farnchitti taking the checkered flag after Sato spun trying to pass Dario.

I felt like I was racing a crit while watching Indy.  My heart was racing and I was on my feet for the last few laps.  If there's no bike racing on TV, Indy Cars will do just fine!
Johnny Tapia

With all the awesome things happening in sports this weekend, it was tempered by the loss of one of my favorite atheletes of all time, 5 time boxing champ Johnny Tapia.

Tapia grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, just like me.  He was a hometown hero.  His life was marred by tragedy with his father murdered before Johnny's birth.  At 8, he witnessed the brutal murder of his mother.  But at 9, he took up boxing.  With all this history, it was boxing that kept him going, but drugs that continued to haunt him.

I had the chance to meet Johnny Tapia while working at Big 5 Sporting Goods in 1995. Johnny came into the store with just his wife Teresa. He was the nicest guy in the world, signed autographs for the whole staff and talked boxing for what seemed like an hour. I sold him some shoes. We often brush the drug addicts aside and treat their deaths as something as a non-surprise. But in the brief moment that I had the chance to meet one of boxing's greatest fighters, I saw a guy who was just trying to live his life. I hope Johnny Tapia's soul can now rest and may he be at peace. He was one of the reasons I'm proud to be a 'Burqueno. RIP Johnny. 
And finally, I just wanted to make sure that on this beautiful Memorial Day, we remember the great service men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.  To those who serve in the military, have served or will serve in the future, I thank you for your sacrifice.

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