On Thursday, Katie and I, the dogs, two bikes, and two and a half wheelsets made the trip to Vermont for 10 days of vacation and the Green Mountain Stage Race.
I originally signed up for the Cat 3 race, but made a last minute change to the 30-39 master's field after realizing the start times in that race better suited our travel plans (which included a change of lodging on Saturday). So, instead of racing against 100 other Cat 3's, I am racing against 45 mostly Cat 1's, 2's, and 3's. (I learned this info by cyber stalking the competiton on usacycling.org.)
The prologue was a 5.7 mile time trial with about 2.5 miles of up (gaining around 500 feet), 2.5 miles of down, a steep little hill, and a false flat to the finish. I rode it as well as I thought I could and came in at 26th place with a 15:56, nearly two mintes off of the leader (who posted a time nearly a minute faster than the winning Cat 3 and who would have been 12th of 126 riders if he had done the Pro-1-2 race with lots of good regional and national teams like Symetrics, TargetTraining, etc.).
The warm up tent (click photos for larger image)
Stage 1 was a two-lap, 65-mile circuit race with about 3000 feet of climbing, two King of the Mountains sprints, and one points sprint. The pace was pretty high throughout, and the afternoon sun made the race hotter than the temperature said it was. I finished 29th with the front group/main field in a mass sprint. We dropped around 15 guys on the KOM's, especially on the second lap. We actually dropped a lot more than 15, but many clawed their way back on the several mile long, winding descent after the hill.
As we approached the finish the moto pulled off at 500m to give us the whole road. I started to come around to contest the sprint at around 300m, and my legs began to seize (literally). After I crossed the line, I coasted alsmost to a standstill and nearly dropped my bike because I could not move my legs. That hurt, but I managed to finish with the leaders.
The field aproaching the line (I don't remember if this is the finish or the first lap points sprint)
Stage 2 was a 75 mile death march with several thousand feet of climbing and two major climbs between 1500 and 2000 feet of elevation gain. It finished at the top of Appalachain Gap, a 10 mile climb with the last 4k averaging 10% and the last 500m being 20%.
I was dropped with 500m to go before the top of the first major climb/KOM (Brandon Gap) at mile 35, caught back on a few miles later, then stayed with the lead group until about 7 miles from the base of the last climb. The goal was to stay with the leaders until the base of the last climb. Oh well. I then lost some serious time on the last climb and finished totally shattered, 25 minutes down from the winner.
The drive to Stage 2
Me near the finish
At 100m to go
The Burlington Crit is tomorrow. I currently sit in 33rd place out of 45 starters. Despite having it handed to me royally today, this race is serious fun and is run with amazing precision for a race with 800 total participants.