Krogg sit right behind Paul Mach during neutral parade. Krogg see Paul lick lips and get to very front. Krogg realize, PAUL MACH WILL ATTACK! Sure enough, referee blow whistle, and Paul Mach sprint like crazy. KROGG SPRINT TOO! So next thing Krogg know, Krogg in breakaway! HA! GO KROGG! SWING THAT AXE! Then Krogg teammate Matt Cooke join breakaway! Matt excellent climber, better than Krogg. Matt could actually make it over top of big climb and win stage. Since Krogg inferior climber to Matt, and since Krogg really want to see Matt CRUSH race today, Krogg job pretty clear: MURDER IT AT THE FRONT OF BREAKAWAY UNTIL BASE OF CLIMB!!!!! CATAPULT MATT INTO STRATOSPHERE!!!! So Krogg murder it at front of breakaway for five miles. At base of climb, Krogg swing axe HARD one more time, say "GOOD LUCK MATT," and then get dropped like boulder on mammoth head.
Ok, thank you Krogg. Did you catch that? Basically, on a day when most guys were looking to do nothing more than survive the opening climb, I found myself up the road with on of Team Exergy's best climbers, absolutely slaying it. I was deep inside the pain cave -- before the climb even started! About halfway up the thing, I'd settled into a rythym alright -- just not quite the same rythym that Cadel Evans settled into as he blazed past me in his big ring. Naturally Cadel was followed by the rest of the field. I tried to lift my pace, but really couldn't. I made it over the climb in one of the last chase groups, and after much gut-busting chasing, we clawed our way back to the peloton. "Nice work Sam," I thought to myself, "you swung the axe, but made it over the climb, and you're going to get to the finish just fine."
Then things get slightly fuzzy. I'm not exactly sure what happened; all I know is that I had an upset stomach, and then about fifteen miles later, I was breathing about 40% harder than anyone else around me. Every roller, every slight crosswind, every surge threw me straight to the back of the field. Like a doctor who realizes that despite his best efforts, his patient will certainly die, I realized: I am getting dropped. It was only a matter of time, but it was utterly unpreventable. I didn't know which roller would be undoing, but I knew it was coming up.
|Click this photo to see exactly what my face looked like for the last two hours of the race.|
And up it came, roughly 40 miles from the finish, a small, unmarked and nondescript roller. The field surged. I didn't. After fluttering through the caravan for a few miles, eventually I was dropped for good. Now my task was clear: make the time cut. For almost two hours, I died a thousand deaths, all by myself, my own private little hell. I fought and clawed and huffed and puffed, feeling as powerless and frustrated as a lion in the circus. Why am I here!? I know I'm capable of so much more than this! It was just me and the broom wagon, for miles and miles. My mind filled with all sorts of the nastiest thoughts imaginable: I SUCK! I'M AN IDIOT! I SWUNG THE AXE OUT OF MY HANDS AGAIN? I HATE CYCLING! I HAT COLORADO! CAN'T I JUST QUIT? Eventually I rallied, my body finally able to convert the sugar in Coke into forward momentum (Coke being the only fuel I was able to keep down all day). The thousands of insane fans that lined the course inspired me to dig deep. [note: to the fleshy man in the Borat speedo, thanks a LOT -- I'm going to have nightmares.] I was that guy -- the last guy in the race, battling, not for the stage win, not to protect my team leader, but simply to finish the goddam race. "You can do it! Keep going! Don't stop," they yelled. I didn't stop. I rounded the final corner into Breckenridge, roughly a minute outside the time cut. My race is over.
Thank you Colorado...it was better than good. It was great.