Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tour of the Catskills

Keeping with the throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks mentality, I made the switch from racing 2 crits a weekend, to climbing mountains during 60 mile road races.
The time trial is still not my best event. The only cool part was I got to use my skin suit. God I missed it. My goal was "somewhere in the middle" and that's just what I did. I knew I had a really strong guy starting 30 seconds behind me. He obviously caught me, but I used him as a carrot and never let him get out of sight after the pass. Did the 20k in 28:20 something and ended up 47th out of 80, which is just past "somewhere in the middle" the good news was I was only like 1:15 out of the top 15 and 3 min off the lead.
Who was winning: nobody really just an ex collegiate runner... who also happened to be an ex collegiate runner with a 4:00.37 mile PR and a 14 minute 5k PR. Fresh off a win at the Mt Washington Hill Climb.
Stage 2: Assault on Devils Kitchen RR
I woke up feeling pretty good. I'm glad I was feeling good as we actually raced the first 90 minutes. I was convinced the distance, climbing, and stage race factor would have us stuck in a comfy pace, until mile 55 where the climb gigantic series of walls was. Not so much. A break went off at mile 1. It came back and then another move went.
Feed 1: I took a bottle from Lauren at speed. The funny part which I am afraid I missed is when Greg took a nut shot from a ejected bottle tossed from the field. If you hit Camia in the nuts with a bottle. Fine work.

Moves continued until the base of the first KOM. The break had like 1:10 on us and was clear. We pinned it up the climb, and reeled it back in. I was just sitting in waiting, making sure I was on the right side of any splits. I would say half of the field got dropped right here. On the descent we did 40 mph for 5 minutes! I did not cry, at least I don’t think.
On the run up to Devils Kitchen, it’s a flat headwind-y road. Another move went clear, and we used this road to bring it back. This meant sitting in but still having to ride tempo single file until the base of the climb. It hurt. The attacks went right at the first steep pitch. I started in like 35th, but by the top of the climb, so many people had blown up, I was in the front of the 1st chase group of 11th through 25th. It was chaos climbing the hill... total mess, people stopping, people trying to serpentine. The climb was a serious of endless stair steps at over 15% each. 

I pace-lined into town with my group and finished in the middle of my bunch for 17th. Climbing to 22nd on GC from 47th. 
Later at home I found my poor teammate Gorka, who suffered horribly from cramps late in the race. I went in to full drug dealer mode and busted out the endurolytes. 

Stage 3: Twin PeaksRR

65 people got dropped on the first climb. It was insane. I settled into the group containing 15th through 2Xth. I was in danger of being gapped out of it. I hung on for dear life on this exposed, 4.5 mile climb basically just holding on to the string. I made it over and tried not to cry on the decent as we hit 52+ mph.
I was feeling good, its just the pace was so damn fast. The power meter showed I had to basically ride a 20 min field test to stay with the group on that climb. I didn’t know this at the time, as every time I looked down at my SRM, the head unit was covered in my drool and sweat. Probably for the better.
Right after that were some horrible rollers and the next KOM. We hit a wall on it, steeper than anything I have seen in a long time. Exposed, melt in the sun type steep. Keep in mind I was riding near the front (top 20) of the race when you read this: I watched, at 3 mph as riders around me stalled and were forced to walk up the climb. The top 20% of the race had dudes walking. Amazing how hard this was… I made it up alive, and even, caught some guys from the lead group and dropping some folks from my group. 
The next section is a bit blurry. Lots of rollers, relentless pace lining, another 53 mph downhill, and then the finish. I wanted to top 10 the stage, I didn't know what was left up the road, but I knew I had to beat this group. I also had a number of guys really close on GC. 
I launched at the base of the short climb to the lodge/ finish line, I stayed clear until maybe 150 meters when two riders came around me. They got a small gap on me, I heard Dave Fries say something about needed to be on their wheels to be same time, I surged so hard to keep contact and take same time and took 13th on the day. I moved me up a few spots to 17th on GC.

The event was really well run and the courses were absolutely amazing. We saw some really beautiful scenery and views through the suffering. The people atop Devil's Kitchen were amazing too, it seemed like a lot of people but I have to admit my mind is doing a really good job of being a bike racer and forgetting how hard it was.
This is how I ended my race, with this face. I think its a good reminder of how hard the race was. 

Game Notes:
I fed Gorka on Stage 2 with one of the sweet Ciclismo branded muesette bags he made. His own bag almost killed him at it hit his bars during the feed.
Lauren and Camia climbed Devils Kitchen in the rain. I would have been scared.

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