Green Mountain Stage Race Cat 2 - 42/44
My first time doing this race, and boy did it live up to the hype. This is such a well run event, with stages designed for all types of riders, in one of the most beautiful places in the country. Highlight of the season, possibly highlight of my 4 years of racing. Came in with zero expectations, and though the results don’t show it, I far exceeded them.
Stage 1 ITT - 47/53
This one stung quite a bit. Usually, I love time trials, especially shorter ones with elevation gain. Went out feeling a bit sluggish but legs opened up and I was staying nice and low, feeling fast and efficient. With 1km to go, right before a dip into the uphill finish, I hit an unmarked pothole, and as I picked up speed going downhill heard the heartbreaking tsssss of my rear tire deflating. Nothing you can do but jump off your bike and run the last 1km. According to flybies, until that point I had been keeping pace with my teammate who finished 4th, but instead finished 2.5 minutes down on the winner. Highlights included not being passed by my 30 second man, and having the fastest running leg of the day.
Friday team dinner: Fresh cod sandwiches and egg tagilatelle with broccoli
Stage 2 Circuit Race - 44/53
The previous day’s mishap proved a blessing in disguise, as it took away all pressure to perform in the GC and allowed me to focus entirely on helping my teammates. So what did that entail? The early break of course! Solo for 30 minutes through the first intermediate sprint (max points holla!), until I got caught but immediately went again with 3 other companions this time, including my highplaced GC teammate who rode himself into yellow last year in a similar long range break on stage 2. Unfortunately for us, the peloton wasn’t so keen to let us go and our 2.5 minute advantage came tumbling very fast until we were caught at mile 55. After being swallowed up by the pack, I tried going for the last KOM points but the surge put me squarely into the red and I promptly blew up, rolling in 4 minutes down from the pack. But my breakaway antics netted me max points through all 3 intermediate sprints and gave me an 8 point lead in the green jersey competition! Who would have thought? Sprinters jersey without ever having to sprint!
Saturday team dinner: BBQ pork ribs and cauliflower with bechamel
Stage 3 Queen Stage Road Race - 44/52
What’s the dumbest thing you can do on the 105mi, 10k ft of elevation queen stage, after having spent the previous day in the breakaway? Yep… that’s right: attack immediately after neutral roll out. Which is what I did, in a bid to collect the max sprint points at the sole intermediate sprint of the day. Lasted 10 miles before a chase, then the pack, brought me back. You know what’s the second dumbest thing you can do on a stage like today? Counter attack immediately. This time, #2 in the competition hung onto my wheel. But since I can’t sprint, I gambled, and figured him getting 6 points, and me getting 4 points was better than me not knowing how to sprint and getting 0 points. So there we went, me dragging my competition away from the field at breakneck pace, not even 1/10th of the way through the stage. As we hit the 1km to go to the sprint, my passenger offered to take pulls if I were to let him collect max points. Which I did. The initial plan was to sit up after the sprint, but when the moto informed us that we had 3 minutes on the field, we figured we might as well ride tempo and get a head start on the climbing. When we finished the first climb and were informed that we still had a 2 minute gap, we thought we’d keep going, us two silly sprinters* and a lone bridger. Then we were 40 miles in, and back out to 3 minutes. And then at mile 65 we hit the second climb of the day, and my legs said no and I completely totally absolutely exploded. Saw the chase pass me, then another chase, then the peloton, then some dropped riders, until I recovered just enough to hang on to a big crit racer’s wheel who kindly dragged me the last 40 miles to App Gap, where I struggled to hold even 150 watts up the climb. I might have even walked 100m, but don’t tell anyone. Never have I felt so empty on the bike, but that was so awesome and satisfying and I have no regrets. Teammates finished really well and moved up in the GC overall. I also got to hold on to the green jersey for another day. Suck it sprinter bros.
Sunday team dinner: Roast chicken with corn, carrots, peas and ham
*I’m not actually a sprinter, but I was wearing green so we’ll count it
Stage 4 Burlington Crit - 40/44
Hahahaha aaaaah crits. I hate crits. Sometimes I tell myself I might like crits. And then I race a crit, and I remember all over again that I hate crits. Sure, this one was in downtown Burlington, a really awesome venue, with great crowds and beautiful weather. But my legs were so totally toast, the tank so completely empty, that this was bound to not end well. And sure enough, despite a call up and a burning desire to defend my green jersey, the first 10 minutes just felt like absolute death and I kept losing positions one corner at a time, till I was blown out the back and pulled 20 minutes in. But hey, I got some sick call outs from the announcers and I got to watch an absolutely heroic effort by 4th in GC to lap the field solo and move into 1st overall. The better sprinter managed to take green from me by just two points, and major kudos to him for that, especially since he persevered with me in the break yesterday despite having no reason to do so.
Monday dinner(s): beer, kobabs, a whole pack of beef jerkey, sour patch kids, chicken nuggets and Big Mac, maple creamy
Overall, one of the best bike experiences of my cycling life. The racing was awesome, my teammates were awesome, my competitors were awesome, the USAC officials were awesome, Gary and his team were awesome, Vermont was awesome, bikes are awesome, my girlfriend is awesome and also awesome at bike racing, everything is awesome.
Heading back to real life and work this morning was not awesome.