Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Green Mountain Stage Race

Day 1 - 6mi Time Trial
Yesterday on our way to the lodge, we drove the final 3 miles of the road race course, that 20% climb I was talking about. You can see the road winding up the mountain and wonder how the road 200m above you is connected to the road you are on. My teammate told me that he cried the last km up to the finish last year.

I was really nervous today for the race. My rear tire, of course, flattened, which did not really contribute to calm me down. I saw the course yesterday already so I knew the first 2 miles were a good climb and then it flattens out for 2 miles. The last 2 miles were slightly downhill. The last km was a fast downhill with an immediate wall after that.

I warmed up 1.5 hours before the race. My start time was 11:58am. Still nervous I started my TT and after the first curve, I could see the girl ahead of me, 30sec ahead of me. We hit the first hill and I got her on the first km. Ok, first chase successful. The second chase was up the hill and it took me another 4minutes to get her. I felt really good.

I took the past two days off so I had a lot of energy. I even saw the next two girls in the distance. I finished in 17:35min. Knowing from Millersburg that how one feels in a TT doesnt necessarily reflect the actual results I was just happy that I felt good during the TT. I talked to a girl after the race who saw our results and she said that I would be in the upper 1/3 of the results, maybe 15th. (My field has 42) I wasn't really happy about that.

Just a few minutes ago, the results got online. I got 9th....very close to the next girls.
I am happy. The competition is tough here. People from all over the US came here to race. Tomorrow is the circuit race....34miles....one big climb with a KOM at 8:55am.

Day 2 - 34 mi Circuit Race

This was the hardest race I have ever raced in my life. It was a 34mi circuit race with one bigger climb. One lap was about 20mi. Our field did 1 3/4 laps.Our race started at 8:55am. The first few km was neutral so the first climb was a test because in the next lap this would be a KOM climb. I was not used to so many people in my race (42 racers) that I had to get used to fight for my position. After getting thrown around for the first miles, I held my position somewhere in the front, most times fourth wheel. Some racers did not hold their line really well so one girl had to yell at them.

Otherwise the first lap was more like a bigger group ride. The pace was not really challenging and we all stuck together. I only knew the first 5 miles of the course so I did not really know where the finish line was (finish and start line was not the same). I knew where the finish line was when suddenly the girls started sprinting for the Sprint points. I sprinted too so I wouldnt get too far behind the leader. We formed a group again but now the pace picked up. We dropped few girls. After a boring ride through the town we came around to the start again, this time a KOM was on top of the hill.

I wanted to go for the KOM so I placed myself on third wheel. The last 500m to go no one really came around so I went for it. However, another girl just crushed everything and won the KOM. I got second. The GC leader got third. We realized that we had a good distance from the others so the leader asked us to work together to break away. Another girl bridged to us so we sped down the hill as fast as we could. The leader as well another girl were really strong so I just hoped I could hold on to it. I also doubted that we could get away because everything was downhill and fast and the peloton could easily catch us.

But it didnt. We had 13 mi to go and we were four people. My first time in a breakaway with a speed that I never was able to sustain. We worked well together. The leader was definitely stronger than I. I realized that when she asked me to pull through when I couldnt even hold her wheel. She was really fast. We had about 5miles left or more, the ref came up to us and said that we had a lead of 20 sec. I was thinking, awesome 20 seconds, we could chill out a bit. Yeah, nope! That one girl yelled at us that we have to push harder. I was redlining and redlining (what tops redlining? that would be me today) The leader got sick of our speed and just pulled away. So we were three left to get to the finish line before the peloton would eat us.

One km to go and the other two girls looked behind the entire time which freaked me a little out. The last 500m came up and we increased our speed. I knew once they sprint my light would be out. So I was basically waiting. Soon enough they started sprinting and I let them go. So I came in fourth. Happy and totally exhausted.

I got the same time as the two girls and we had a 47 second lead on the chase. And for some reason I got fourth overall. I cant believe it!


Tomorrow will be the toughest stage of all of them. 70 miles, two huge climbs (one with 20% grade)I am pumped!!!!!

Day 3 - 70 mi Road Race - The Queen Stage

When yesterday was the toughest race in my life, today was close to the top as the most miserable....miserable in regards to the imbalance of what I wanted and how my body responded.

Today was a brutal 70mi with two Green Mountain crossings, one crossing, Middlebury Gap was at 30mi, the other 20% climb was at the finish. Actually the last 10mi were all climbing with the last 3 miles of 15-20%. I have never seen any of those climbs in the MABRA races. The other part of the course wasnt flat so it made it even more challenging. We also had a mile dirt section.

The start of the race included a long downhill and everyone was freezing because it was about 55 degrees. The first 30 miles of our race was very boring because we all knew the course will kick our ass anyway. People had some interesting conversation so I learned that the leader is going to the National Championships of some sport and the number 3 of the GC is going to Worlds for Triathlon. Now everything makes sense.

Finally mile 30 we had the first Green Mountain crossing and the first KOM on top of the mountain. I was somewhere in the front but I felt my legs and did not climb as fast as I wanted. I felt them from yesterday. The GC leader, the KOM leader and the Triathlete were way ahead and left quite a gap. Two other girls and I followed. Once on the top of the mountain I tried to catch someone on the downhill.

However, I am, let's call it, a sub-decent descender so I lost time and had to wait until the flats to catch them which I did. Once I caught the two girls, I couldnt see the three front girls anymore. Still trying to get closer to them, I was caught by about 10 girls who worked together. I joined them and we tried our best to catch the three girls. The motor kit came up to us at some point and said they got a lead of 3 minutes. Ok,not quite what we hoped for.

Yesterday before our circuit race, I went to SRAM to get my cassette and chain checked out because my chain jumped all over the place. He said that my chain was too long for the setup and my derailleur is kinda messed up. Today I saw the consequences. I was about to shift into the little ring and my chain dropped. I couldnt shift while riding so I had to stop. My chain actually stuck in my derailleur so I had to get my chain free.

When I was about to jump back on my bike I realized that I was in the big ring which made the climb right ahead of me impossible. Plus once I was sitting on my bike, I couldnt really shift down because the tension on the chain was so tense that I was worried that the chain would drop again. In my head I saw myself timetrialing the rest of the race - about 20miles. But fortunately this was not the case because I was able to catch the group within 3 minutes. I have no clue what they did the time when I was fighting with my chain.

Once I caught on to the group we worked together up to mile 60 - the start of the climb to the Appalachian Gap. This meant thanking everyone for working together and trying to findtheir own pedal rhythm. I stuck to the two girls who were also ahead of me in the climb to Middlebury gap. Two girls were behind me; one of them was not looking like she would keep the pace. I didnt feel like keeping that pace either. The last 20 miles were bad for me. I only ate one sleeve of shot blok the entire race. Oh and by the way, I had three bottles of water with me and I realized in mile 3 that I forgot to fill one of them.

So I was not in the best shape after 60 mi. I had to reconsider my gearing when we started climbing. My two smallest gears made problems the entire race so I decided to face 20% climb with the third smallest gear of a 27 cassette. It was possible but I had a super slow cadence.I kept the pace of one of the girls until it became so steep that I had to stand up because my gear was too big for anything else. We spaced out tremendously.

The other girl of us three sped up and was way ahead of us. In my head I was fine with the entire world passing me. This was not about placing well anymore. For me it was about getting up that mountain and to the finish line. Another girl passed me at some point and I was totally fine with that.We were approaching the last 500m and spectators were yelling at us. Slowly but sure I saw the finish line coming close and eventually after 3:58h crossed the line. I got 7th.

For some reason I am still 4th overall with a 8 sec lead of the 5th place. One of my teammates said that the crit tomorrow is the hardest he has ever done. Good, because I am not exhausted enough yet?????

Day 4 - Crit

When I woke up yesterday I felt pretty good for the crit which would decide whether I get 4th overall. I knew I wont get on the podium anymore but I wanted to hold my 4th place. The 5th placed girl was only 8 seconds back. 6th place was 2 minutes back so I didnt really have to worry about her. My strategy for the crit (besides not crashing) was doing whatever the 5th placed girl was doing.

The crit was pretty technical with 6 corners and a very uneven pavement. There were three GC time bonus sprints on lap 20, lap 10, and the final sprint.The start of the crit was very fast but I had no problem to stay in the front group. The 20th lap approached and Amy, the 5th place girl, was sprinting for 5th place. Since the GC time bonus only went 4 deep, it didnt matter which place I got because she did not get any time bonuses either.The pace of the race was still very high and we lost a lot of girls.

I was always third to seventh wheel and had a strategy how to move up if I had to.The bell for the second GC bonus time lap rang and I had to position myself in the front. Amy sprinted to the finish line, so did I. She got second, I got fourth. I lost three second on her. Ok, I was still five second ahead of her. The finish came up and I sprinted with everything I had and passed one girl and came in fifth. Amy somewhere ahead of me.

I was happy to finish the GMSR, not having crashed and placed well. At that point I didnt care how I placed.However, when I saw the results I saw I was 2 seconds ahead of Amy and got 4th place. I couldnt believe it. My strategy worked out for me. However, when I checked the GC results on the GMSR website the next morning I saw I got 5th overall.

After calculating time I realized that the officials forgot to include the finish GC bonus time of the crit. That meant I was one second behind 4th place. No comment.

Considering that this is my first racing season and the Green Mountain Stage Race was my first race as a Cat 3, I am happy about the end result. I also decided that it's time to remove my reflectors from the helmet, switch from MTB to road shoes and maybe get shifters and gears that work.

1 comment:

  1. OMG! How you did that? Time to go PRO.

    P.S. I can help you with the bike tuning.