We’re now in the very northwest part of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR (see the map). As the second-to-last post mentioned, Team Priority Health drove all day Tuesday from Alabama to Arkansas to end up in this beauty of a town. When we rolled in late at night, we were greated by the owner of the host house with giddy jumping jacks from the street and sporatic yelps, “Over here! You made it! Hooray!” That was a kick for the team since we’d been stuck in the car and van all day with very little entertainment. We then ended up having to drive another half-hour to the actual host house, which is the aforementioned woman’s lake house. We’re in a really remote spot, a solid 30 minute drive from civilization (aka, the actual Fayetteville, where the University of Arkansas is located). We have a beautiful brown lake just yard behind the house and we live on a dirt road that is just off the next main road where we are chased by dogs at literally every other house. Yup, this is the life. I’m being a bit sarcastic here; it’s actually an awesome house and it works perfectly for the team. We’re never bothered by the neighbors – just their dogs; the house is the perfect size and like I said in the last post, Robbie and I are really enjoying having to share the master bedroom suite and its king size water bed.
Arkansas is the place to be this time of year because of the Joe Martin Stage Race (May 12-14) and Tri-Peaks Stage Race (May 17-21). I knew right when I woke up that the first stage of Joe Martin was going to be a good one for me because it was a gorgeous day, the coffee was delicious, and right when I turned on SportsCenter, it was as if it were perfectly queued up, because they were showing the previous day’s Top-10 plays! I thought, “Wow, this is a sign. THIS is going to be a good day!”
Stage 1 was a 108 mile road race with one pretty lengthy climb towards the end and then a long drag into town. Sparing details to keep the attrition rate of readers low, I felt awesome all day, managed to even throw in some attacks on the climb(!), and then finished the day designated as the team’s sprinter where I took 4th place behind Gord Fraser, Ivan Stevic, and Alex Candelario. I managed to keep Scott Moninger at bay and relegated him to 5th place. Here’s a podium shot of the top 4… I’m that handsome fellow on the left. The top 5 were asked to go on stage, but a certain someone was too cool for school and didn’t show up.
The next day began with a 92 mile stage and ended with a 2.5 mile uphill time trial. I rolled off the front with a group of about 12 just 10 miles into the race and stayed away the entire day. That breakaway split from 12 riders to just 4, half-way into our epic day, and the 4 of us really dropped the hammer for the subsequent 40 miles only to be caught by the peloton just 3km from the finish. I felt like crying when we were swept up, but was actually really proud of my effort. It ended up saving the team from having to chase all day and we then delivered Rich to 3rd place.
Blah blah blah, the team rode awesome the rest of the weekend and Rich rode like a champion; he ended up scoring a very respectible 5th place on GC. It should be noted that more than 215 people were in our race, so beating 210 of them is no small feat! The team finished 5th in team GC and we’re really starting our upward peak at the right time with a bunch of huge races on the horizon for June and early July.
In related news, the fact that we did this well is very impressive since Robbie, Tommy, Brian, Glen, and I were all sick with one illness or another throughout the past week. Tommy has been losing it out both ends, Mighty Mighty Glen was too ill to start the final stage,
Brian has been lethargic and nursing a cold, but still managed to put in a monsterously heroic effort on Friday’s opening stage, and Robbie and I have been boogering and snotting non-stop for days. (The picture is of Brian putting the hurt to himself and to the field.)
I already miss my chops, so I started growing a chin strap to replace my lack of facial hair. Robbie has a pretty Amish-looking chinstrap (think Abe Lincoln), whereas mine is pretty badass thin. It makes me look tough and mean. Here’s a picture of me being tough and mean. You’d better watch out or I’ll have to get tough and mean on you.
I’ve been talking to my family back home in New Hampshire and they’re letting me know that I’m not missing any good riding by being in Arkansas. In fact, it’s been described as New Orleans-like, with all the flooding! I just saw a bunch of pictures from the local online newspaper and it’s unreal the amount of water that’s accumulating. I recommend this site, since a lot of the pictures are near my house.
Ummmm yeah, that’s all for now. I’m hungry. Robbie made an enormous loaf of banana bread and it needs to be consumed.