Tom Zirbel: ‘Game On’ Today

First major mountain test completed

Wow, impressive display of power from Radioshack, et al. today in Stage 4 of the AToC. There really wasn’t a lag in the pace for the entire 130km of the stage. In fact, I had one of those “do as I say, not as I do” moments when I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything and we were on the big HC climb of Mt. Hamilton at km 85. I remember thinking what I would do if one of the athletes whom I coach told me that they hadn’t eaten anything 85 km into a road race in the middle of a grueling stage race. Dumb.

I was drinking water and mix but I forgot to eat because I was too busy pedaling hard. Anyway, my point is that there are a lot of strong people at this race. It’s cool to see and very motivating as well. I, for one, believe it’s good to get a good clock cleaning from time to time. I remember a few years back at this tour during a stage that went up Sierra Rd and finished in San Jose.

That day Discovery was on the front because a dangerous breakaway containing Jens Voigt was away. We were going so hard for the 40 km of rolling terrain before the Sierra climb that I remember saying that I would never be Pro Tour material after the stage to one of our sponsors. I was so blown away at how long those guys could set a blistering pace on the front.

I was doing everything I could just to stay on the wheel in front of me. So, when I made that comment our sponsor Bob got really pissed at me and told me to never say something like that again. He must have known something I didn’t at the time, which is that the fitness gap between riders is always smaller than it seems. Fueling, efficiency in the bunch, and being more selective with your efforts can count for so much in a road race like this and it’s important that I remember that because I was awful at it today! The good thing is that the Jamis/Sutter Home team has some very experienced riders and I hope to learn a thing or two this season.

Also, Mt. Hamilton has one of the most fun and scariest descents that I’ve ever done. It descends for something like 18 miles and it’s just switchback after switchback after sweeping turn. The coolest part was when the small group that I was in nearly clocked two turkey vultures who were feeding on a carcass in the middle of the road.Those things are huge! But we interrupted their meal and they narrowly averted our speeding bicycles. That could have been messy.

That’s all I got. Oh, and the sun came out today – hurray!

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