Just outside of Texarkana, TX this year was the Edge City Stage Race. Stephen Mire and I have raced in Texarkana before and were not impressed with the terrain. Me being a smaller guy, I like a hill or 2.. or 3… or 10. So we were pretty excited when we saw the hills we’d be going over as we drove to the course. Racing this year for LaS’port Elite, Stephen Mire and I teamed up with Russ Big Daddy Walker, and Mathew Davis to bring some Louisiana hot sauce to Texas. Racing in Texas has always been exciting for us. People are competitive, race to win, and the courses are always way more fun than anything we get in LAMBRA.
We went into the race with a goal: win
If there’s one thing you’ll get from racing with Russ and Mat, it’s legs that feel like overcooked spaghetti afterwards, and a ton of knowledge.
Matt has lost so much weight in his build up to Elite Nationals where he placed 2nd, that a lot of people thought Stephen was Mat. So when Mat slowly rolled off the front at mile 0, no one cared, and only 1 PACC rider decided to roll off after him. Ten miles later and someone uttered, “You know thats Matt Davis up the road right?” to which someone replied “Nah man thats not Matt… oh $&#@ that is Matt.” Attacks immediately started shooting off in attempt to bridge up, and this is where we won the race.
Stephen Mire was being reeled in after he took a flyer. He was caught near the bottom of the longest climb on the course. As we approached, I countered and took John ShalekBriski from US Military with. I looked back and Caleb Fuchs of ThinkFinance was bridging across, followed closely by Russ Walker and John Ryan of ThinkFinance. We all grouped up and started rotating, quickly, gaining on Mat Davis and the PACC rider. This looked promising, but the field didn’t like it and we were reeled back in. Stephen countered my move, Russ joined, as well as a handful of other riders, and that was the race. Stephen drilled it to get Russ up to Matt and dropped off and rejoined the peleton. Matt and Russ would eventually go 1st and 2nd, with Russ winning solo by 1:30 to win the 200$ prime awarded to anyone who won solo by over a minute. Stephen and I were not content to sit in and wait for the finish so Stephen softened the rest of the field up for me, which allowed me to get off on a steep pitch. Again I was joined by ShalekBriski, and we rode in together for 7th, and 8th place, 45 seconds ahead of the field.
The TT was a 5 mile rolling course with a slight tailwind. Matt drove back to Shreveport after the road race, worked all day, and drove back for the time trial. So with tired legs, Matt came in with a time of 9:50, tying with Russ walker, to finish 3rd and 4th.
Stephen and I had both been fit on our TT bikes a week earlier by our coach, Jed Darby, and the improvements were immense. Immense on the scale of the difference between a Ferrari and a Diesel truck, a greyhound and a chihuahua, taco bell with sauce and without. I held more power in a 5mile TT after a 72mile hard race, then I have fresh in a 3mile time trial, and I got to the 2K mark in the TT so fresh that I was able to sustain 400w for the remainder of the TT. At 145lbs, those are some promising numbers. I was seeing numbers I never thought possible on the TT bike, so I was dialing back my effort by a pretty huge amount. Stephen and I finished 8th and 11th respectively, and we both finished scratching our heads thinking, “we could have went way faster!”
The 2nd day of racing was sure to be a hard one. We had 1st, 2nd, 8th, and 10th on GC.
At the start line Russ sealed our fate for the day. “Today, you’ve got to throw your personal ambitions in the trash and ride yourself inside out to protect the GC.” We knew he was right, so we wiped away our tears and go down to business. We knew if one of us got off the front, we’d have to be alone, lest we bring someone higher up on GC with us, and create a problem for Matt and Russ. From the gun, Matt made an acceleration, but he was being covered by a rider from every team present and they seemed to notice this time if the guy going off the front had national stripes on his sleeve bands or not. I saw this as an opportunity, and immediately countered the acceleration 500meters into the race. With 90 miles ahead, no one wanted to go with, and this was a fatal mistake made by every team. My gap quickly grew, and no one attempted to bridge. I didn’t dare look back, and put in a pretty huge effort to establish a sizable gap. Once I finally looked back and saw I was out of site, I settled into a pace of easy on the downhills, tempo on the flats, hard on the hills. There was a stretch of road that was you could see for 3 miles flat, and the peloton was no where in site. I had a 7 minute gap, and was feeling pretty good. I went through the finish line of the 30 mile course for the first time, grabbed some bottles in the feedzone, and kept pounding away. I started having these illusions of grandeur that maybe they’d leave it too late. I thought okay, “just hang on for 10 more miles.” Then once there, I started thinking, “maybe I can win this thing.” I saw myself standing on a podium with Russ and Matt by my side, being kissed by beautiful Italian women, and being handed a 5 gallon bottle of champagne. Back in the field the other teams realized the danger, and sent riders to the front to chase. An hour later, 50 miles into the race I was caught. Stephen immediately countered and the other teams once again made a huge mistake of letting him go. Every team looked at each other, and realized they didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. After a grueling 10 mile chase, Stephen was finally brought back. Nathaniel Beams of Dallas Racing launched an attack and Matt quickly took chase with 2 riders in tow. I was running on fumes, and only had enough left to claw my way to the 3 riders, go to the front and bring back Nathan, and that was it. I was done. I felt like Jens Voigt after pounding on the front of the Alpe d’Huez and then dropping off in a blaze of glory. Russ Walker countered the attack, and went up the road, and was soon joined by Matt a few miles later, where they went into the finish 4 minutes ahead of everyone else to solidify their 1st and 2nd on GC. Stephen and I popped off, our jobs done for the day and finished close to last on GC, but with bigger smiles on our face than we’d had all year. We truly rode ourselves inside out for our teammates, and they finished it off perfectly, who noted after the race that our race was 90 hard miles, and theres was an easy 30miles that took virtually no effort to ride off the already tired field.