by JJ Schmidt
I have to admit I was dreading waiting at the starting line, I figured I would need to be there 2.5 to 3 hours early to get a good spot. I really wanted to get platinum so I didn't have to get to El Tour de Tucson so early. I was relieved to find out that I wouldn't need to get there as early as I had planned. Then Jimmy sacrificed his platinum pass for me, and I didn't have to get there very early at all. I have to say I really enjoy being part of this team. Jimmy and I arranged to meet Greg and Margo at their hotel, which was right down the street. We were late meeting them, but caught up with them on the way to the start line. I've never ridden to the start line before and it was a nice way to warm up. It made me feel like a true cyclist.
The pace started out pretty quick, but right away Jimmy was up with Greg and me. The course was riddled with obstacles and the incessant yo-yo that happens in a big pack, which was made worse by all the construction cones. I saw more than one rider hit a cone, but luckily I didn't see any of them crash. When the rumble strips showed up, I tried to stay on the outside, but it was frustrating trying to stay inside the yellow lines. On the first decent hill I fell towards the back and was glad I had followed Buzz's advice to get near the front so you can fall back on the hills, but not get dropped. I was able to work my way back up to the front, this time sticking to the inside. I made a pretty risky move on the inside and made my way to the very front, just before Usery Pass, then proceeded to get promptly dropped on the hill.
As I was nearing the top, I saw some riders on the ground, and as i got closer realized it was a teammate. I didn't know if it was Greg or Jimmy, but as I got closer I saw Jimmy coming back towards us, he yelled at me to keep going and as much as I wanted an excuse to stop I kept going. On the descent I was able to work with a couple of guys, but as we turned back toward town I could tell by the mileage and the time that we were not going to make the 3-hour mark. We worked together for a while, split up then regrouped with a few other riders. I ended up crossing the line at 7.5 minutes over 3 hours and was pretty bummed. It helped a little to learn that I finished less than 9 minutes behind the winner. I felt like I let my teammates down. I was super exited when I learned later that they adjusted the times and my time actually earned me platinum status. Woohoo I don't have to wait for hours in the cold at ETdT. Thanks Team! I wouldn't have done as well without you guys.