Sometimes you just need a Giant carrot

First things first.  You’ll notice the sponsor section over to the right – on the main page.  I’m trying to line up some sponsors for the blog and I’m glad to say that Quarq is the first on board.  Obviously, I’m looking for sponsors who have products I use and believe in.  Quarq falls in the category.  Thanks Jim and Mieke!

Now for the ride. I sent a text message to John James early in the day.  We had been getting together to do some riding and Thursday evening was supposed to be the next opportunity.  He responded with “I’m riding easy.”  I was hoping he would say that.  A hard ride on Tuesday and Wednesday had me tired.

When I showed up I found that Bob Rentz was there.  Now things were getting to be like old times.  Mike and Art had ridden the night before so a reunion wouldn’t be complete.  Matt – Turner, that is – was there as was Anthony and Rob.  The only guy along for the ride that I hadn’t ridden with before was James Barker, the regional sales representative for Giant.

We rolled out and indeed it was a nice leisurely ride for the most part.  For the first hour we averaged 161 watts.  The only excitement during that hour was nearly having the whole group taken out by a family with a bassett hound in the middle of the road.

We came around a curve and there they were.  The poor dog didn’t even move.  I did my best to keep from taking down both Matt and myself when my wheel got caught between his wheel and deraileur.

The only other dog issue came when a little wiener dog came flying out in the road to eat me up.  I had been lulled to a false sense of safety because most of the homes in that area had hidden fencing.  So, as I saw the little runt heading across the grass toward us, I figured he would stop.  No.  He kept coming.  My fear wasn’t that he would bite me.  I was afraid he would get that pointed nose stuck in my spokes!

Then it was time to climb Altamont.  I started up behind Matt and James.  This would be James’ first attempt up the climb.  I was curious to see how he would do.

Matt eased up some and then Anthony came to join us.  Before long it was just James, Anthony, and myself.  At the halfway point, Anthony backed off and I was left to hang onto James’ wheel.

He didn’t look in trouble at all.  He was just holding a steady cadence.  I started getting into difficulty.  This was not supposed to be a night for an effort.  With about a third to go, I eased up just slightly and just focused on my own pace.

I figured the one thing I had going for me was that James had not climbed this road before.  He had never encountered “The Wall.”  I decided to recover a bit and see where he was in front of me when we were both on that stretch.

When I entered the straight, I could see him about halfway up.  I dropped my gear about three rings and stood on it to see if I could at least come up close behind him.  As I reached the halfway point, I looked up to see him in trouble.  Ah! There was a chance!

I started huffing and puffing to get around him and passed him in the last 30 to 50 meters.  I rolled across the KOM line in 12 minutes and 12 seconds – just 7 seconds off of my personal best.  My Quarq CinQo was telling me I had put out an average of 304 watts for the 12 minute climb.  Mr. Barker was a very good carrot!

I figure he came across no more that 15 seconds later.  So, his first ever attempt of Altamont was around 12 minutes and 30 seconds.  I guarantee that his second time would be better.  Matt put in a 13:12 effort – a personal best for the big man.

Of course, we still had to go down.  Anthony took off to claim that prize.  Matt and I took off after him.  Sure enough, James was right on our tail.

Matt had his best climb ever up the mountain, but when he is along on a ride I figure the downhill portion belongs to him.  He and Anthony were tearing it up and I was just along for the ride.  I’m still a little fearful after my broken finger incident so I was not taking some of the turns as hot as they.  I slowed James down a bit.

As we came off the mountain it was Matt in front with Anthony, myself, and James finishing up the train.  I tried to get some momentum to come out of the draft, but the two guys in front were just too strong to get around.

The best part?  I feel great!  This weekend is the State Criterium Championships and I’ll be joining my teammates to see how we can do.  I’ll admit that this is not my favorite style of racing, but maybe if I just do it some more I’ll get used to it.

All I know is that we have some awesome bikes to ride on out there.  Thanks, James!