One hundred and thirty-two miles instead of one hundred and fifty? Cake walk, pshh… I probably don’t even need to train for BWR this year. Right?
So very wrong.
This year I was lucky enough to catch a ride down with Jeff Byers from Topical Edge and Jesse Anthony. The traffic on the way down was murder. Word to the wise- never take the 405 South after noon on a Saturday.
The race had a completely different feel this year. Pro cycling teams like Jelly Belly and current and former Pro Tour riders made the start feel more like a stage of the Tour of California rather than an unsanctioned, sweaty, dusty, beer swigging suffer fest. It was awesome to get a call up and I tried not to let it go to my head as I couldn’t exactly coast on my laurels for 130 miles. I just wanted to finish. I was also thrilled to be on the new Giant TCR Advanced Disc, which, with 28s ended up being the perfect tool for the job.
The start was controlled and smart. Too controlled and smart. These guys knew what they were doing. No one was going to break. We hit the first dirt section and the bottles began to fly. Word of wisdom- ditch the flimsy, superlight bottle cage and get something that grips. I was right behind Jesse when he went down. He immediately popped back up and began to straighten his bars. No keeping that guy down.
By mile eighty we hit Black Canyon and the temperatures pushed toward 100 degrees and by the peloton began to separate. Halfway up the climb the lead group of about ten pulled away. Scott Lundy and I fell off the back, pushing our watts to the red with hours to go. It wasn’t worth it. We were caught by a chase group as we neared the top and settled in. No podium today but it became a fight to finish. The legs just weren’t there. Something felt off. We all have those days and unfortunately I pick a long one to be slogging through.
Bottle after bottle came and went and still I couldn’t hydrate. Somewhere near Julian the road became terrifying as jacked up pickup trucks passed within inches, middle fingers out the window and horns blaring. Classy.
Endless heat and suffering crept in around mile 100. Double vision. Nausea.
By Double Peak the bike was wobbly. I passed Lundy somewhere around the Oasis as he grabbed his legs and rolled around on the ground screaming from cramps. Brandon Baker and Jon Hornbeck crept into sight ahead. They actually looked like they were enjoying themselves, chatting and smiling. I would have hung out and ridden with them but I was so ready for the ride to be over I pushed through. More pain and suffering. The finish line. Vomiting. Aches and fever. Full blown flu.