16 February 2012 By Rachel’s

Valley of the Sun Stage Race– Canyon Bicycles

Valley of the Sun is a very early race for those of us who live in the land of winter cold and snow.  Although, this year I am having trouble remembering if I live in Salt Lake or southern Utah with our mild weather.  I was anxious to get a start on my racing as my 2011 running career ended with an e coli infection at 11,000 feet and 4 months early.  I havent raced any big road races since 2002.  Needless to say, I am not a patient girl.

Luckily for me, a few other riders from our favorite Canyons shop joined with me and headed south to try on our 2012 race legs.  We loaded up our Specialized bikes and Easton wheels for an 11 hour drive to 80 degree Phoenix.  Its amazing how I can run around all day and not feel tired. Yet, make me sit in a 2 foot square seat all day and I am done.  I think Ill blame it on Cannons driving skills, which were perfect. The problem was he went the speed limit while my head wanted to race every car that tried to pass us.  There are reasons he was the driver¦. We arrived at our hotel at 9PM and passed out hard.

Friday morning was time trial day.  Wow! I learned a lot. First is I am never racing a flat course again without a TT bike and a disk!  I was fortunate however that Mike Fogarty is the coolest guy ever. He went above and beyond his First Endurance sponsorship of our team. He graciously lent me his clip on aero bars so I wasnt completely helpless.  Thanks Mike! It was a hot beautiful day and I am happy regardless to have a great start to my cycling tan.  The boys all had a solid showing.

Brent and Joe Post Road Race

Saturdays road race was more a test of mental toughness than ever.  The day was amazingly beautiful. Perfect for a race.  There was just enough wind to make things interesting and plenty of sun and heat. Everything went off perfectly.  The races were fast and furious.  One lap into the circuit, everything stopped.  There was a horrible crash in the Mens Pro/1 field.  So bad they halted the entire race for almost 2 hours.  When we finally got to start again, people were overheating, tired of hanging out and over thinking everything.  All of our races were shortened.

For my Pro ½ womens field we went from having a 62 mile race in 3.8 laps to a flat out 2 lap race. Yikes!  I am an endurance girl and generally need the miles.  I put my head in the right place and decided I was going to be there regardless of speed. I dont think Ive ever raced a womens road race that fast in my life. I am forever grateful for the hill. On the first lap around, I stayed with the fast girls of Lululemon Specialized, Primal Mapmyride, etc.  The second we crested the hill and had a gap, 11 of us organized and pace lined fast and hard for the entire next lap. We stayed away.  When it was all said and done, I blew up towards the top of the hill the second time and ended up 45 seconds back from the top girls to take 9th.  All I know is I inhaled my entire bottle of EFS and liquid shot from First Endurance. I would not have survived without EFS and copious amounts of Optygen.

Brent Shows us how to recover his style. Word, don’t overheat!

The guys had outstanding races. While I dont know details, I know that Joe Waters pulled out a second place finish and Brent a 13th in the mens 2 field of 90 guys!  Chris Putt pulled off an amazing 4th place in the mens 3 field.  With the delays in the race, we didnt get back to our hotel until after five.  Stinky, starving, and in Brents case, overheated.  He claimed it is what happens when you go straight from 30 to 80+ degrees in a day.  I had to rub it in that I was fine! FYI, DZs Nuts did its job and helped us survive the extended stay in our chamois.

Since it is not always just about the racing, I must mention that Joe Waters dad came to watch and support every event. We also met him for dinner after the road race. Anyone who wonders why Joe is so great, meet Dan Waters and you will get it. The other highlight was having Josh Brockbank out.  While he wasnt able to race this one, he came to every event. He helped with bikes, played Sherpa, pep talked, cheered, and you name it to make sure everyone had great events. He set a fantastic example of how to be the coolest teammate ever.  Thanks Josh for all your help!

Back to the race, Sunday was the criterium.  The course was tight, technical and left us feeling super lucky that Vittoria tires and Look pedals have our backs. There were no problems with tight potholed corners and crazy accelerations.  Chris had a solid 8th place finish. Joe rode away with enough primes to pay for his trip out and he and Brent finished strong somewhere in the front pack. For me, this was another highlight of things to learn. Primarily that it is not a good idea to tangle with another rider at the line and get a slow start, among other lessons!

Men’s Cat 2 strung out criterium. 90 guys long!

Right after my race, we bolted for a not so joyous slow slippery drive back to the 801 with a 3 AM arrival home.  Thanks CEP for helping us survive a 13 hour drive. Thanks to all of the Canyons Bicycle team sponsors for all you do for us.  It is all of the parts that create whole.  We appreciate Canyon Bicycles, Larry Miller Dealerships, Specialized, Easton, First Endurance, Vittoria, Look, DZs nuts, and CEP for all you do to make sure we the best of everything so we can race a great season!

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I will always remember waking up at the age of 12 to the pain I saw in so many while simultaneously realizing how lucky I was to feel fantastic.

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