Well, I've been back for exactly one week. And it's been, well a heck of a week to say the least. I actually haven't forgotten or been too lazy for once to do this. Rather I wasn't really sure what to say. I am still not 100% sure on how I feel about how things went Down Under. But, it's about time to stop worrying about how I feel. Onto the race report!
Travel to Australia was something that I had a hard time wrapping my head around. Going there, I left LAX at 11pm on a Saturday night, and landed Monday at 7 am. Wait, where did Sunday go? I lost May 1 on my way there. I am used to losing things, a day was a new one to me though.
Anyhow, flight was fine. Bags showed up on time and in order. I did however get taken in the airport! I hadn't reserved a car or anything to get from the airport to the motel. I had figured we'd just get a cab (We being me and Brandon, my trusty mechanic). I saw a sign for limo service. Why not? I asked about it, and the lady said it would be cheaper than a cab ride. Why not? $100 ride to the motel in a stretch limo! It was worth it. I later found out that the cab ride was only $45. Oh well, it was worth it!
Nothing really too exciting for the first part of the week...Just got the bike together and did a few easy spins while waiting for race day to approach. I wondered around the area of the Olympic Park and rode some pretty cool bike paths and out to a nature refuge.
Things went down hill at classification. I have never had an international classification. A panel of three doctors meet to examine you and determine how disabled they think you are. Now, I have some disagreements with some of the stuff the UCI does in regards to this, but I am not really going to go into that now. With that in mind, last year I raced as a C1, the most disabled of the regular two wheeled bikes. The US doctor and the Canadian doctor both agreed that they felt I was a C1 based on my neurosystems and the way I ride. Well, the panel felt a little different. I meet all the paper criteria for the medical side of things, but for some reason being able to ride a bike in a parking lot moved me up to a C2. Well that's just F'ing great! Not what I wanted!
They told me they were going to take video of me in the road race and time trial, and that I could contest it at Spain and ask for a review. Great, so I get to fly myself to Spain for that one? Awesome!
Well, there was really nothing to be done about my classification while I was in Sydney. So, it was just trying to get my head together for the road race and do what I could.
The road race was on a motor speedway and the near the drag racing strip with some access roads joining the two together. Nothing too technical...a little more climbing that what the profile showed, but I was happy to see that.
For the road race, they combined the C1, 2 and 3 fields. I figured some of the 3's would get away early and I was hoping I would be able to go with them. Things were fine early on the first lap after we started losing a few guys. But, I had a little bit of a brain fart and slid farther back in the group than I should have, and had two guys crack in front of me on what was pretty much the only real climb of the course...which happened to be on a narrow section of road. Lesson learned, well...relearned.
Be near the front AWLAYS!
My fault, I screwed up. By the time I got around the two guys, the gap was too much for me to close. I spent the rest of the race in a chase group of 4 or 5 guys. Mostly 2's that sat on my wheel. To be honest, it was pretty silly. I rode pretty hard for a few laps thinking maybe the race would come back together. After realizing no one would work with me, or could, I pulled the plug. No one else would really do anything. I literally slowed down to 8 mph a few times because no one would come around me. On the last lap I tried a few times to get away, but with that huge kick I have, I wasn't able to get enough of a gap. In the end I finished 5th. Two guys were up the road long gone, and two guys got me at the line.
Overall, I learned a lot about racing some of the international guys. The front few are strong and know how to race, the rest, well, I'll leave it at that.
The TT on paper had looked really technical, and after talking it over with some people, decided against my better judgment to leave the TT bike at home and just take the road bike and a disk. Lesson learned again. Always take your TT bike! Unless it's a mountain TT!
I wasn't too sure how I would stack up against the guys in the new classification, but it didn't matter what my classification was. It had no bearing on how hard I was going to ride. On paper, I rode one of the better TT's I've ever ridden. Power was good. Pacing was good. For once I could have maybe actually gone out a touch harder. (Did you hear that Brett?) I didn't go out too hard for once! In the end, my time was good enough for 5th place again.
Looking back, there is lots to be frustrated with. I came home with two 5th place finishes. In my mind, a failure. Many people have said I should be happy with those. But, that's not really what has gotten me this far. Had I been classed as a C1, I would have won the road race and the TT. Which is what my plan was. But things don't always go as planned. I feel I rode the TT as best I could. Had I had my TT bike, I might have finished in 4th at best. The RR, I rode good, but not smart enough.
In the end, I walked away with having learned a lot. I think that is the most I can ask for. I can't say enough about all my new sponsors this year and my old ones that have stood by me no matter what. It really is amazing to have so many people standing behind me and believe in me, even when others don't.
For now, I am off to Spain for the second World Cup in June, and hope to get my classification sorted out.
Be sure to check out more of Matt's blogging about his World Cup adventures over at his blog: http://mattbigos.blogspot.com/