I would definitely encourage anyone to add to it and just keep on passing it around until we get the full story!
Day 1: Well... actually, the whole shebang kicked off prior to day one of racing so...
Day 0.5: We all got together for a team meeting at Jerry's house. Everyone was cool, there was a lot of good planning for the race and the season in general.
Eddie sort of gave us all the "low-down" on how the team worked and how to work as a team.
We were all extremely well fed. I am picky eater, but I'll eat a lot if it's good, and I'm pretty sure I made at least 3 trips to the table to refill my plate! Jerry downplayed his cooking skill when he said all he did was "go to Costco, boil water, wait." (or something to that effect)... I say that if 99.999999% of all restaurants can screw up pasta, you gotta be pretty handy in the kitchen to get it right.
Everyone left happy, and that set us up for...
Day 1: I had the pleasure of showing up for the TT and finding a PAA tent all set up and ready to go! It was conveniently located about as close as you could get to the starting area and it was very relaxing to find a calm place to retreat to before and after the race.
Whoever got up early to create that space should know that it really helped to make the whole race a lot more enjoyable/less stressfull and I couldn't have done it better myself. Hell, I couldn't have done it as good myself. Ahhh, who am I kidding, I couldn't have done it. Period.
After warming up with my teammates (I was anti-social and listened to Jurassic 5 on my I-Pod most of the time) I went to the timing tent for a 9:05 start. I think I was the first PAA rider off.
I rode as hard as I could for 3.8 miles, and picked off as many riders as possible on my way to the top... in my mind I kept thinking of Scott Powell's hwy 2 climb time!
OK, that's a lie. I thought of that before the TT but the TT itself was mostly an oxygen deprived haze. All I remember (vaguely) is fighting the urge to stop pedalling.
I forgot to stop my timer at the top, so I didn't know exactly how long it took me. I was pretty sure I'd gone fast though! I was almost... confident.
My confidence turned out to be misplaced though, because unlike the Pro TT times where #1 and #2 were 0.6 seconds apart, Scott beat his closest competitors (myself included) by 15 seconds. He beat his, ummm... not-closest competitors by a lot more. I think his time was about 15:30.
So that was how the day ended, with PAA in the yellow jersey.
Day 2: Once again I showed up to a stable space to warm up in. I set up my trainer and started to warm up, this time without my I-Pod, as Eddie was there to provide valuable stat's from the day before, and help us all create a plan of action for the day. In addition to breaking down the GC contenders and possible threats to the yellow jersey verbally, Eddie also wrote their numbers on masking tape and put them on our stems. That came in handy later, because once the race started I could barely remember my own name. Not because the pace was fast (that came later) but because I was nervous.
We all arrived at the staging area right on time and proceeded to wait in the freezing (I'm a California boy so for me the cold was life threatening) cold and fog for at least 20 min. Apparently someone had not opened one of the gates on the stage route, opening the door to a potentially huge cluster%@#!!.
Eventually, after everyones legs were cold and our warm-ups rendered useless, the race got underway.
The whole team worked together incredibly and I never once took a pull! It was a lot different from other group rides (where I would pull) and from the SDSR last year (where I worked for John McKeen). Last year I sprinted to take time bonuses away from anyone threatening John. This year Scott and I were close enough in GC that when you factored in the sprint bonuses I actually pulled ahead. Ironically, one of the main people who helped me get in position to sprint on day 1 was... Scott!
Anyone who saw that first sprint knows that there was no one behind me... the reason no one was there though, is because Scott pulled all the way down the finishing straight, stringing out the field until, when I got close enough to sprint for the bonus and looked back... no one was there.
I hope I have the opportunity to reciprocate.
All the PAA guys were very aggressive at times, and we really controlled the stage. Everyone rode within themselves and no one pushed so hard that they got dropped... even if it took teamwork to stay with the peloton (or claw your way back to it) until we could recover. (I am pretty sure there is more to that story/s so if this sounds familiar, just post your account of it in the "comments" section)
With everyone (but me) working I conserved enough energy to sprint for it at the end of the stage and PAA went 2 for 2 in the San Dimas Stage Race.
Later, after looking at my power files, I estimated that including all the sprints I did, I still averaged about 10 watts less than everone else. Probably more that 10 watts less than some of riders *ahhhhhhmmscottpowellhmmm* who rode super strong that day.
I went home and took a nap.
Day 3: We all set up our trainers at the tent (which magically appeared without any work on my part again) and warmed up. I started asking for team support early and borrowed Jerry's pump, and embrocation (well... "borrowed" implies that he got it back so... he gave it to me). After taking Jerry's stuff I asked if anyone had seen the second jacked I had lost. I guess someone realized that I leave my shit behind after I left jacket number one, because someone had grabbed it for me and handed it to me now.
Then I got on my trainer and started warming up with the rest of the guys. After we were all warmed up and we had been briefed by Eddie we headed to the staging area and waited.
There was some grumbling about how strong PAA was as we were called to the line, and then the race started.
We all rode as a team and that was the coolest part of all three days to me. Everyone stuck together (the pic at the top shows how near to each other we were all riding) until a rider would take a planned break and we would all let it go. Scott Powell got in a break with one of the top GC riders (533) and we got a pic so you can see him off the front below.
It was cool because his working in the break let all his teammates rest! None of us had to take any pulls while he was off the front.At one point, I remember hearing Jim "explain" to another rider that we weren't going to chase down our own teammates, so if they wanted to bridge the gap they'd just have to do all the pulling themselves.
It was funny to just sit up and make other people do all the work to catch someone... on a group ride I would get yelled at for that!
For the most part, anytime I needed or wanted help from a teammate they were there doing what I would've asked before I could get the words out.
On the 2 occasions where no one read my mind and I actually asked for help (I think once was to chase a break and once was because I was lazy and didn't want to pull, LOL!) I got what I needed/wanted/wastolazytodomyself with no hesitation or reservation. It was cool.
The pace picked up quite a bit throughout the race and by the the mid-race time bonus sprint we were going pretty hard.
Number 506 (Braun Lutz,3rd in GC) attacked and Scott and another teammate (all I saw was a butt and I didn't have time to look more closely) pulled me close enough as we came through the last turn of the loop that I was (barely) able to nip him for the bonus. That helped secure the yellow jersey and Scott's 2nd in GC. After that I just sat in, protected by teammates who weren't busy pushing the pace or attacking, until the last two laps.
With two laps to go I wormed my way to the front and waited with a couple other PAA riders to see what would happen.
Braun Lutz attacked out of turn three and Jim went after him, pulling me with him.
Braun is in front in the climbers jersey, Jim is in the middle and I am about to latch onto his wheel. Braun accelerated hard right after this pic but Jim closed the gap by about halfway up the climb.
Either some of our PAA riders sat up out of the turn, or the pack just slowed down to fit everyone around the corner, because just as Jim caught Braun I looked back and saw that a gap had opened.
Braun had aready been out in the wind for bit and seemed a little tired, and since Jim had pulled me up to him I was (in comparison) rested so I attacked.
Jim sat up right on cue, and as I got to the top of the climb I looked back to see Braun gesturing at Jim and trying to move to one side so that Jim could pull through. Jim moved when Braun moved, and stayed in the draft.
I drilled it as hard as I could along the top and down most of the hill. I looked back before I turned the corner onto the finishing straight to see Braun cracking and Jim starting to pull through with the pack closing fast a few seconds behind him.
I had enough of a gap that I didn't have to sprint, so I had front row seats for the last 5-10 seconds of the race.
Jim put his head down and buried it all the way to the line... the pack didn't quite catch him in time and only one sprinter was able to get by, giving PAA 994/1491sts (roughly two thirds) of the podium spots for the stage.
Scott stayed glued to Brauns wheel. I'm pretty sure they finished right next to each other, meaning there was no way Braun could endanger Scott's podium spot.
After that I looked forward again, but everyone finished in the pack and I could hear some of my teammates yelling "Whoooo-Hooooooo". The feeling was mutual!!!!!!!!!!
We gathered around for a post race celebration, Eddie said a few choice words and pictures were taken, before we all headed off to cool down...
That's the way I saw it go down, but I would love to hear other peoples accounts of what happened, so if you have anything to add... post it!!!!!!!!!!
Winning a road race for the first time was a good feeling... I will look for more cool stage races to do!