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The ride of a lifetime(14 posts)

The ride of a lifetimelonefrontranger
May 28, 2002 8:56 AM
I had the ride/race of a lifetime this past weekend at Platte Bridge Stage Race in Casper, Wyoming. 3 days, 4 stages, with some pretty rough climbing in the 2 road stages (1 full-on "mountain" stage, 1 "intermediate" roleur-type stage). When there weren't hills there was wind, because the only thing to block it out there is fence posts, cows and maybe a tall blade of grass or two. Added to the hills and wind was a large, talented field of very fit women making life hard on everyone.

The first road stage ends in 10K of the most wicked climbing I've ever done, and I'm no climber. This was also a Women's 3/4 field, so I was racing against girls who are theoretically stronger than I.

Final results: 6th in the mountain stage, 2nd in the time trial, 3rd in the crit, and I won the final road race! Third place final GC - they score on time, not points, and I lost too much time on 2nd place in the climbing stage. Doesn't matter - that damn stage qualifies as the ride of my life. There were tons of early attacks on the difficult rollers leading up to the final climb, and I was so very close to being dropped many miles before the finish. Going up the steepest one with the attacks, at 100 meters to go before the crest, I was absolutely redzoned and had to tell myself "just 3 more pedalstrokes, 3 more... 3 more..." The GC selection was made right there on the first stage; whoever made that group were the only ones in contention for the rest of the weekend.

With 10K to go, on the first steep step of the climb, I had the presence of mind and legs to execute a fine "release" of our climber teammate, and she rode away from our group with another climber to finish third on the day. When I hit the final 5K and got into the ugly bits on the front (on the front??!!) with just a few skinny girls left, I could just hear Phil Liggett's voice in my head saying "Well, Paul, this is a *very* select group now...!". The girls who finished just ahead of me for fourth and fifth place are both 115-lb featherweights. Once my teammate was safely away, we diced it out, back and forth all through the worst parts of the climb but they just had that bit more jump at the end. 5K of brutal climbing with 300 meters of 18-20% "wall" at 1K to go apparantly does terrible things to my sprint.

The woman who won overall crushed us on the first 3 stages and gained 20 minutes on the rest of the field. She did this by riding away on her own at mile 4 of the 50-mile climbing stage, beat me by 1:25 in a 14.5 mile time trial and then took off again solo in the crit and nearly lapped the field. I only won the final stage because she conceded it and soft-pedaled in at the back of the field sprint.
Sounds like you know how to suffer! Congrats.(nm)allervite
May 28, 2002 9:09 AM
WAY TO GO!mikebikr
May 28, 2002 9:13 AM
Sounds like you really kicked ass! Well done. Doesn't seem like the format would have suited you so well. Maybe you're a climber after all.

How did you set up your training to peak so perfectly? My big race of the year is coming up this weekend.
May 28, 2002 10:08 AM
You've seen me ... will you please tell them I'm not, and there is no way I ever will be a real climber! I'm 5'4" and 150 pounds of cast-iron sprinter muscle. This means I spot the pure climber ladies 25-35 pounds and that takes its toll hard in the steep sections. I'd love to have these skinny chicks come live in my world for just one day in the mountains. Forget strapping an extra bike to their backs, make that a Huffy Cruiser!

As far as tapering, the best advice is to avoid any and all group rides and stay focused. What I did (this was somewhat work and weather influenced) was take an easy 90 minute Zone 1-2 ride on Monday, with a couple short accelerations at the end. Tuesday I got a 90 minute massage with a 30 minute spin to flush my legs out. Wednesday I went and did hill sprints. It was super windy so I did an hour fifteen of ballistic short uphill sprints with a tailwind (try it, it will rock your world!). Thursday the weather turned crappy so I took the night off. Friday I spun for about a half hour on the trainer right before we left, then took a brief spin when we got to the hotel (maybe 20 minutes to loosen up from the drive).

The key to stage racing is recovery, recovery and more recovery, coupled with proper hydration. I spent as much time in the hotel as possible, lying down with my Camelbak next to me and my legs elevated on the headboard of the bed. I slept like a log, 7 to 8 solid hours every night, with catnaps every chance I got during the day. I ate a lot more than I usually do in the "recovery window", and pounded lots of Shaklee (electrolyte replacement drink).

This morning I got up feeling stronger than ever, and could have easily done another hard stage if necessary. I feel like I improved the entire weekend while everyone else just got tired. Even the GC leader admitted she was cooked at the end (2 days off solo, no wonder).
May 29, 2002 6:11 AM
While you may not have the classic climber's build, 6th on the Deer Creek RR stage is a great finish for an insanely steep final climb. Your ability to hang in there on the climb shows great mental fortitude. Plus remember how well you were doing at Carter before the flat?

On that final 1K section I watched a guy in front of me dismount and walk his bike twice for 10 yards each time and still no one passed him. It was all I could do to turn over a 39x25. Turns out I could have walked in cleats faster!

Congrats on a great race at Platte!
The ride of a lifetime (part 2)lonefrontranger
May 28, 2002 9:36 AM
The TT was and is my forte, but I haven't done one in 2 years and wasn't sure how my focus on becoming a sprinter might affect it. I rode a good but not great time of 39:01 for 14.5 miles. I had :31 on third place, but the leader blew us away by minutes. This improved my GC from sixth to fourth, which meant the crit was basically a matter of either getting in the right break or sitting in to preserve my GC, while making sure that fifth GC (only :02 behind me) didn't capture any time bonuses on the finale. The right break didn't happen, as the leader essentially rode everyone off her wheel early on. I sat in and ignored all the $50 primes (hard, very hard...) then with a half-lap to go, 2nd place GC took a flyer. I bridged but that spent my effort so I wasn't able to go around. 3rd place meant a five-second time bonus to consolidate my placing on GC.

The final road race was an out-and back in rolling hills and crosswinds: 22 miles out tempo and 19 miles back piano. I never saw the front until about 5K to go, with the entire field still together, getting very clustered and stupid in the crosswinds. There was an ugly steepish climb at that point, so with the field just about trackstanding all the way across the lane, I decided I had had enough. I rolled through the gravel and grass up the right side, went all the way to the front and set tempo up the climb. It didn't feel like very hard tempo to me, but my teammates told me that the field shattered all the way up it. I crested, and our remaining domestique took over and executed a fabulous kilo TT with me on her wheel. The remnants of the field strung out beautifully, single file. I took over again through a section of sharp zigzag corners, and the shattering process continued. The GC leader then came through and made a wicked attack, which I bridged, hoping that the climber (our other GC contender) was on my wheel (she was). We hauled through the final corner, then the GC leader threw in the towel and about a dozen riders regrouped. At 1K there was a short, steep sprinter's climb. I was determined not to get clustered this time, so I sat on the front taking a bit of wind in eschelon next to the leader, with a wide open road in front of me. At 800 meters to go, I suddenly noticed the leader was in her 53/13 or 14 going into the final climb. A flash of insight told me she'd get bogged down and stop the field for me if I attacked right then. I jumped away, opened a considerable gap on the climb, then scampered down the 200 meter descent to the finish line, hoping to stay clear of the stampede I was certain was about to overtake me. I glanced back right before the line and realized the whole field was still at the 200 meter sign! Our climber finished strongly, fourth on the line. The time bonus for the win plus my little gap meant we flipped GC positions, but we had agreed from the first stage to pool all our GC winnings and split them equally. We were thrilled with 3rd and 4th GC and a stage win for the team, since we had limited expectations going in. Even our domestiques were able to finish in the money (11th and 12th), and they did great work all weekend.
The ride of a lifetime (part 2)flyinbowlofmilk
May 28, 2002 6:10 PM
Congradulations,LFR! Going to do my 1st Road race this coming weekend. It's the NC/SC State RR Championships. Way to go LFR.
May 28, 2002 8:55 PM

I always enjoy reading your comments and have learned a lot from them. This post was also inspirational.

Most excellent, sister. Congrats! (nm)shirt
May 28, 2002 9:09 PM
Awesome LFR!!!!! (nm)mtber
May 28, 2002 11:21 AM
re: The ride of a lifetimebrider
May 28, 2002 11:52 AM
Well done LFR, and a good bit of schooling on that final observation of your rivals gearing. Knowing the course and the competition, as well as your strengths goes a LONG way.
LFR is tops!LeGrimper
May 29, 2002 2:27 AM
Keep those reports comming, they are great and really brighten up the board.

Brilliant efforts. Well Done.

Le Grimp.
mommy, I wanna do that someday!!! nmweiwentg
May 29, 2002 8:21 AM
Good work! I can't wait to do a stage race! (nm)RockyMountainRacer
May 30, 2002 11:36 AM