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Sep 20 2013

Green Mountain Stage Race – Race Report

Two weeks prior to the event, one of the coaches at Learn-to-Race asked me if I was able to take the place of another registered rider who was unable to make the trip to Vermont on Labour Day weekend.

That sounded like a tall order for someone who only began Learn-to-Race this season, and had only one real race under the belt. But this is such a great opportunity. What could go wrong?

The drive to Vermont was about 7 hours not including stops along the way. 4 Midweek club members racing in Cat 4/5 Open including myself, plus Elf, our super support staff loaded our gear and bikes on two cars.

We left Toronto early in the morning, and arrived at race headquarters in the evening in time to pick up our race packets.

There were two other Midweek members racing in masters categories who did not travel with us, but were able to meet them at various times over the weekend.

Stage 1 – Warren Store Time Trial

I was glad our time trial started in the afternoon, because I really needed to sleep in after the long drive.

The organizer provided stationary trainers for warming up, which was much appreciated. But I probably enjoyed it too much and lost track of time. I got to the start hut seconds until my scheduled start, and didn’t have time to clip in until after the clock has started.

The profile featured steady climbing, steeper at some points, for the first 4km. The first part of the climb was fine, so I tried to stick with the big chainring and grind it out. That took more out of me than I expected, and I felt my power output decreasing, eventually having to spin in my small chainring to reach the end of the climb. This was when my 30-second man passed me.

I look a bit too happy after a slow TT performance...  Photo: ElfThe rest of the course was downhill until close to the end. Recovery was slow today for some reason, so I really only managed to keep the pedals turning. I’m sure this is where I lost the most time.

On the descent into a valley, the racer who started 90 seconds behind went by. All that’s left was the final few hundred metres.

Final time was 3:27 behind the leader, good for 5th slowest. This is something I can work on. Hopefully I can improve my ability to sustain higher power for next season.

 

Stage 2 – The Bridges Circuit Race


The Midweek Cat 4/5 team before Stage 2. The only time I look good is... before the race.   Photo by ElfThe circuit race was 2.5 laps around a 30km circuit, with a KOM climb at the beginning of each lap. The first climb was neutralized, so everyone had time to get warmed up and settle in.

The second time up the climb, I lost contact on the last bit of the climb to KOM finish, but the peloton was not going at a high pace, so the few of us were able to bridge back shortly after.

The final time up the climb, I lost contact on the last incline to KOM finish again, but this time, I could not keep up with the chase group going downhill. (This is the only disadvantage of compact chainset). I could not bridge up this time, and ended up time trialling the last 20km home. Another 5 minutes was given up to the leader.

There was a crash on the first lap likely caused by wheel touching. I just managed to get around it by crossing the yellow line, but Dan was caught up behind it. Shortly after he managed to chase back to the peloton, he had a flat, and then had to do more chasing after the wheel change. That’s some bad luck there.

 

Stage 3 – Champion System Mad River Road Race

Stage 3 was the “Queen Stage”, a hilly road race with the finish on the Appalachian Gap summit.

The afternoon prior, our team drove the final climb in a car, which did help during the race, but it didn’t make me any less anxious.

The Appalachian Gap summitToday’s start was close to our condo, so the team rode to the Mount Ellen Base Camp for sign in. I really needed this warm up.

The first 7km or so was neutral, so everyone got a chance to settle in.

No long after racing began, our GC man James had a puncture. Bob stopped and gave James his wheel to allow him to get back into the peloton, while poor Bob had a fix the flat and rode the rest of the way by himself. James was able to preserve his podium because of this. Now that’s a guy you want on your team!

The pace was relatively calm all the way until the first KOM. There were a few breakaway attempts but no one got very far. I think many of us were thinking of saving a few matches for the final climbs.

I was doing all right on the first part of the KOM, but eventually did fall off the back on the second last up-kick.

From then on, I traded pulls with one other guy, then joined 2 others, until the start of Baby Gap.
Dan caught up to our grupetto using his time trialling prowess. Nobody really tried too hard at this point – we even had time to chat.

At the end of Baby Gap KOM, I grabbed a bidon from neutral support, then enjoyed a mini break going downhill sitting behind Dan.

When the climb to App Gap started in earnest, it was every man for himself. 34/25 gearing for me all the way to the end.

Halfway through this climb, the lead vehicle for the next wave went by, then the leaders themselves. It sucked to see them go by and had no response.

Best chalk art on the climb!Spectating on the climbThe last 500m was the steepest part. The announcer’s voice getting louder got me through, and so did the spectators lining the course.

And Elf’s chalk art took me to the finish!

James ended up third on this stage, but the podium presentation was long over by the time I arrived, heh. We stayed around to watch Bob finish, and then watch some of the elite riders. It’s impressive how they could sprint out of the saddle.

 

Stage 4 – Dealer.com Burlington Criterium

The criterium in downtown Burlington was a 1km, 6-corner course, with a fast descent and a climb up to the finish line.

At least it wasn’t raining, but the roads were still wet. I was even more anxious about this stage than the summit finish yesterday.

Lucky for me, our category was the first to start in the morning, so we were able to ride the race course for warmup. I used this opportunity to memorize location of manhole covers, and get an idea of safest/fastest lines to take during the race.

I wasn’t at all confident, so I started at the back, but immediately realized that was a bad a place to be. Even on the neutral start, the peloton was getting strung out and gaps were already forming on the first lap.

So after a few laps, a lead group had already gone, and within the chase group, I was behind some guys who were a bit slower around the corners, so more energy was expended to close gaps than I want.

Trying to bridge back to the chase group.  Photo by ElfWhen I eventually got around the slower guys, the chase group was over 10 seconds ahead. My small group of 3 guys held the gap steady for a few more laps, but couldn’t get any closer.

In the final few laps before getting pulled off the course, I was doing all the work and the other guys were just hanging around. I was a lot more comfortable with the course now, and being at the front, I could pick the best race line.

Our small group was pulled off after 13 laps, just meeting the minimum number of laps required to get an official GC placement. Obviously I would have loved to finish the race, but that was some consolation.

Only after I dismounted did I realize my rear was completely flat. I did not notice it at all during the race. I wonder how long I was riding with the flat, and whether that affected my performance.

James ended up 3rd in the general classification podium, the most significant result for the club this year!

For me, I did finish, but wouldn’t call it a good result, and couldn’t offer assistance to the team as I hoped. Nonetheless, it was a great learning experience especially since I had not done any real racing previously. Until next time!

Whatever the result, I rewarded myself with the most delicious burger on rye! And thank you James for treating us for root beer float with his prize money!

Go team!

1 comment

  1. Hong

    Good stuff Henry! Way to man up 😛

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