Gettin here:

We arrived last night without incident at around 6pm and made it to our host housing spot just 2 miles west outside of town. Having the van to drive in all together was a great treat and fresh change to the caravans that we used to roll in to get to races like this. I had full control to “teach” the kids about “great” music and to prohibit any other electronic devices.

Our House:

We are straying at a very nice, quite, and close to town house and the owners have been just great. They gave us the keys and opened their home to us after just 15 minutes of having met us. They have gone for the weekend and the house is ours. Kindness like this is no novelty it’s just a shame that more people just don’t get to experience it.

The Race:

Logan, Donovan, Nathan, Marcos, and myself as most of you know are riding in the 4-5 race. This is the biggest, baddest, longest, hardest, stage race we or El Grupo has ever entered. We each have our goals and roles in this race and from the gun we were all tested.

Donovan has a goal to finish this sucker. No small task. Well step one today was accomplished. He finished roughly 15 minutes behind the leaders. In front of many and behind others. But most importantly alive and ready to race another day, and with the Time trial his best event up next.

Marcos has the role of super supporter at this race. He is being tasked with closing gaps, helping flatted teammates, pulling if he needs to. This is one of the hardest jobs as he knows if does it as is being asked there is little chance that he is going to have a real shot at the end of the race. However Marcos in true Eagle Scout form has accepted this job with eagerness. THANKS MARCOS!!!! The thing is he is totally strong enough to do all of these things and kind enough to understand the importance of the task. So today when Logan flatted at the most inopportune time, just before the intermediate sprint when the pace really kicked up, Marcos dropped back and worked for his teammate the rest of the day picking off dropped riders one by one the rest of the 35 miles. A grand applause and thank you to you Marcos.

Logan this is your third flat in a row at a race and you took it in great stride today. Knowing we have 3 more races to come and plenty of miles to go. Thanks for riding so strong in the end with your teammate and may the 4th time be the charm.

So I heard about Logan flatting about 5 minutes after it happend, so once I heard about the flat only Nathan and I were left in the front group with about half the race left to go. I had been doing a ton of work all day, trying to control the race as much as I could and really doing way too much, but it’s what I thought was best for the team. Of course Nathan was at the back of the 25 strong peloton when I heard about the flat so I went all the way back to try and talk with him, then went all the way back to the front to try and slow things down for Logan and Marcos. This did not work unfortunately because there was a break up the road and no one wanted me to slow anything down. So it was up to me and Nathan.

At this point the great climbs of the race had not arrived and I was still feeling great. I got Nathan on my wheel and brought him straight to the front with me so he would not caught up behind anybody. The race ended with a good 12 miles or so of climbing, so perfect for Nathan right. My job then was  to get him to the base of the climb in good position without much work being done, if any.

Well I did my job, even with him getting a flat right at the base of the climb. The climb was not 12 straight it was like 5 straight then some tough rolling hills. I did not know that so when I got to the top of the first hardest, longest, climb with the last dozen of the race I thought we were doing great and I was still alive. However the ensuing hills put the fork in me. With about 6 miles to go I finally lost the leaders and eventually came in about 2 minutes behind the leaders in the second chase group.

Nathan of course was up the road with the last 7 and FINISHED 2ND. That’s right 2ND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lizzy of course was racing as well and wouldn’t you know she too flatted but at about the 5 mile mark. She then spent the rest of the day by herself. Almost 55 miles of solo riding, or not easy at all terrain. The fact that she had the guts to finish means a lot to me. Well done young lady.

Last and not least Richard raced but unfortunetly crashed out. I can not give too many details unfortunately. I will have him post.

A lot of thank you’s now. First and most important to Daniela. She is being the most super supporter in the world right now. Making food, driving everywhere, and making sure we are all in the right place at the right time. We could not do it with out you –THANK YOU!!!

To all the parents and believers of this team. We know you are behind us and we believe.

To all the younger riders reading this at home. If you want to be here then a year of hard work awaits you. All of you have the potential, but it means nothing without hard work. I hope to ride this beautiful race with many of you in the years to come.

10 Responses to “Tour of the Gila Update #1”

  1. Cathy

    great summary!
    Glad Richards Ok.
    Bummer with all the tire troubles
    Woo. I’ll bet nathan’s impossible to live with out there… just kidding

    looking forward to the rest of the races. good luck to all!
    (Lizzy hang in there, Sat and Sun you get to ride with other people!)
    Sat crit will be available via webcast starting at 835am our time (but most of us back here will be doing the GABA ride from Udahl at 7am)

  2. Lauren

    Great job everyone! Sounds like there was a lot of courage going on out there. Stay strong, El Grupo!

  3. adkisson

    Hey, El Grupo! Sounds like you are all working hard and having fun. Great job!
    “There are three ways to pedal a bike. With the legs, with the lungs, or with the heart.”

    Ride with heart!

  4. Jade

    I agree, that was a great summary! I am also glad that Richard is ok! Also, great team work, Go El Grupo!!!

  5. kathleendreier

    Congrats, Nathan! We are all so proud of you! Thank you, Coach for all you did to get him there.
    Thank you, Marcos, for helping Logan out all day…you are a true pal and teammate.
    Donovan, Lizzy, and Logan…that’s right, never ever give up…you guys are rock stars!
    I look forward to hearing Richard’s story.
    Daniela, you are best!
    Please express to the host family the deep gratitude we parents of the riders have for them opening their house to El Grupo.

  6. Richard

    The “Richard” update:
    Day 1 (I started a day before the cat4/5 fields) went well with a 15th place finish out of a field of 70ish riders. I was totally happy with this result, and was looking forward to defending or improving my GC position.

    Day 2 started out very well. My legs felt better than the day before, and for the first 20 miles of my race (mostly climbing) I was near the front of the pack, if not at the front helping to drive the pace. After the climb, I made a mistake at the bottom of a dangerous decent and crashed. The crash itself was not too bad; my bike was mostly undamaged and I was able to hop right back on and rejoin the group. From there all went downhill; I couldn’t hold on to the surges and ended up having to ride by myself. I had a huge patch of road rash on my right ass cheek, and my shorts were completely torn down the right side. I rode for 35 miles, wondering how (beyond the crash) I could go from leading the pack to getting quite easily dropped. At the second feed zone, realizing that I was last on the road and going slower with every mile, I abandoned the race so that I could get to the finish and get some medical care. I hate quitting, but I feel like I made the right decision.

    Today: I was able to do an amazing ride on my own – 93 miles over some of the hardest climbs I’ve ever done. I got to see parts of the Gila Wilderness that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. And I’ll be on hand to help out with logistics for the kids. It’s going to be a fun weekend, even if it wasn’t the one I was expecting.

  7. Sabina

    Great job El grupo!! Sounds like you guys are workin supper hard keep it up!!

  8. moze

    wow. nathan 2nd place?!?!!!?? woo. lizzy 55 mile solo at 15 years old!??!! cool. marcos and logan flatted and finished the race?!?!?!? donovan 15 minutes behind the leader!!! nacho thanks for doing all these races for us and helping out every minute of them!!!also!!???!?!?

  9. ben

    you guys are AWESOME!!! That is crazy awesome that you got 2nd, Nathan and that Donovan was 15 minutes behind. Thats great. Congratulations for finishing the first part el grupo! good luck!