Killington Stage Race - Killington Vermont - 3 Races: Circuit, Road Race, Individual Time Trail
Here we go. I am here needing a win. Not an actual win, although that would be nice, but more a positive result. A solid good performance. I felt a lot of pressure to finally do well and show my strengths.
I had been in Killington since the Monday before the weekend's races to have some work done on my road bike. While there, I was living #vanlife and riding as much as I could. While my BMC was in the shop, I rode my TT bike and then swapped back to the road bike when I could. I got to pre ride the courses and get familiar with the roads, conditions, and enjoy the sights before having to get in race mode. I spent 2 nights at a camp area and 2 nights in the welcome center parking lot. Between riding, I got to work on my camp cooking skills, core work, reading, writing, and explore the area a bit. Come Friday, day before the race, I got to meet up with the USMES crew. A group of 4's were signed up and sharing lodging so I was able to have some company! While I'd be sleeping in my van, I was able to park it at the house and have use of the kitchen + bathroom as well as hangout and talk race details with the USMES guys.
Stage 1 – Circuit 54 miles
I woke up nice and early. 5:30am. Had a hot shower (my first in days, thank you #vanlife) and sipped coffee while I made my pre-race meal. I opted for my favorite go-to; gluten free pamela’s pancakes. Mentally I was feeling good. I had the opportunity to pre-ride the course and although there was no clear ‘breaking point’, it would hurt. I was happy to know the course ahead of time. This is the first time I had really pre-ridden a course, let me tell you, it’s worth doing. This made a huge difference in my confidence and mental state as I went into the day. I highly suggest doing it. I will try to do it more in the future. My legs however were a different story. It had rained all Friday, making an opener style ride (or any ride) impossible. I do not like to race on overly rested legs. Eek.
At the Skyeship (yeap, that’s seriously what the start location is called) I pumped tires, ate some food, did a brief warm up spin, chugged my pre-race sugarfree redbull, signed in, and was at staging. It all felt very relaxed and smooth.
This was a difficult course. There was a long grinder to the first QOM point that only got to 5% grade at its steepest. This would hurt as girls were likely to push the pace going up this. Low grade grinders are not typically my thing. After that it was a quick downhill into a sharp right. Obviously I wasn’t thrilled about this portion, but having pre-ridden it, I knew what to expect and how to ride it. There was a sprint point in the last third of the lap. We would do 3 laps, 54miles with a left turn and roughly mile to the finish after the final lap. There would be 3 chances for QOMs and 2 Sprint opportunities. Immediately the race was not would expected. The field was dragging around 14 mph with women wanting to steal wheels at the front, but not put in effort to ride at the front. The field of 20 strong women would drift right to left, trying to force people to the front. This created a sketchy race. No one would hold a line and people were fighting hard for positions. Elbows were out and game faces on. In the beginning of the first grinder portion, I went to the front to drive the pace and make everyone’s legs wake up a bit. I was bored and wanted to get things going. I need to learn not to do this. The race ended up being ridden for points; both QOMs and sprints. These points were tough efforts. Besides those areas, the course was ridden calmly. There was one crash, rough pavement caught a rider’s wheel on my left and she went down hard. Her wheel hit my leg and I was amazed to have stayed upright. Luckily that was the only incidence and she, along with everyone else who went down her, did get up and finish the race. After being nervous and overly aggressive in the first lap, I settled down and into the back. My legs didn’t feel great. I had decided before the start to ride this race for GC, not QOM or Sprint. It was time to relax and execute my plan. I hid in the back. Doing as much work as I needed to not drop off during the hard parts. Towards the end of the third lap, as we approached the final left turn, I got into position. I rode up the side into the wind to get second wheel and just hung onto it. After the turn, the pack scrambled hard to pick up the pace with the increasing grade. I lost a few spots but stayed aggressive and knew I still had some time until the finish. The pack went hard too early and was able to stay on, moving up as we got closer to the line. I was going hard. It went by so quickly but I looked up to see only a handful of women in front of me. Wait what?! I had just crossed the line 5th?! I was almost crying tears of joy. I mean, it wasn’t a podium, but it was good. Just what I needed going into Stage 2 and contending for GC.
I tried to focus hard on recovery, so it was immediate chocolate milk followed by full meal of rice, chicken and carrots back at the USMES house, compression sleeves and a quick nap. I was feeling full but forced down a meal of greens, eggs, bacon, squash and grapes around 6pm and spend most of the night stretching. At 9pm my eyes were closing and it was lights out.
Stage 2 - Road Race 60 miles
Eyes barely opening. Feel like a van hit me. Not my van because I’m sleeping in it. So tired. Okay, time to get up and do this whole thing again. Coffee, shower, pancake. It was actually difficult to eat. I stared at my pancake for about an hour between making it and actually consuming it. I just felt so full. But it has been well documented that endurance athletes should not rely on appetite for fueling. Having the van at race starts is plush. Seriously. Jawbone jam box blasting tunes, cooler with recovery nutrition, change of clothes, camp chair to lounge in and stretch my legs… all things that make racing easy and pleasant! My mood was happy. I had high hopes for the day.
After a brief warm up, the race was off and rolling. 3 miles in came a 4-8% climb. I went to the front and led the charge. Not in a breakaway attempt, but to drive the pace and be in control. It was nice to wake up my legs and as soon as we made a right turn into the next 20 miles of rolling downhill, I gave up control and went to the back. The pace was moderate. No one was consistently pushing the pace. No one went for the sprint points, this was a climber’s course and I’m pretty sure the sprint jersey was decided in stage 1. It was pretty clear that the group would be split at the first QOM pt. Mile 25 – 29 would be a fierce climb with 14% grades. It seemed never ending and as predicted, the field split in two. Ten of us pushed on, rotating to keep the pace up. The next adventure was a 2 mile dirt up and down riddled with potholes. I pushed the uphill section but slid off the back on the descent to avoid the rough road conditions. Water bottles were flying and I didn’t want any part in a crash. I stayed just back enough to be careful without dropping off. Once the group turned onto highway 4, it was a long grinding, slightly uphill, headwind stretch to the finish climb. It felt exhausting. Again, grinders are not my thing. I could feel my legs getting fatigued. Everyone rotated. No one played games. I wanted to play games. I wanted to hide and conserve. But I wouldn’t be the only one to duck out. I appreciated that our group of 10 was committed to riding hard. Skyeship was in view. Unfortunately, we would be turning left just before Skyeship and heading up up up for 6 miles to the finish. The group broke up almost immediately. I was in 9th place. My legs hurt. I wasn’t too worried. Yet. This is typical for me; I drop a little and set my own pace so I don’t burn out. So I set out to pick people off. I wasn’t concerned about the QOM pt, just the finish. Legs burning. Jello effect setting in. Caught and passed one. 8th place. Caught Fahringer of Amy D and we motived each other to #htfu and chase after the group of 4 in front of us. It worked and at 2k to go, I was sitting within reach of 3rd place. At 500m to go I was in 3rd place position. However, at this point it pitched back up really steep. My legs failed me. I couldn’t go. Three women went off ahead and I wanted to cry. I was left to sprint against Fahringer (which obviously wasn’t going to work in my favor, girl is strong!) and ended up in 7th place for the day and 6th place GC. Sigh. Some comic relief came as I rolled up and around the turnaround to come back down the mountain, and realized that I was on a ski slope and there were people skiing as I cycled by. Definitely a first. Then I made a wrong turn and ended up doing a nice 10 mile cool down. Oops. Probably good to spin out the legs more after that crazy climb.
Time to recover. I chugged the rest of my chocolate milk and ate a chicken sandwich. Got out of my bibs asap (super benefit of the van, food and a place to change!) and drove the 5 miles back to the house to wash my kit and recover some more. Stage three would be a 10.8 mile TT. GC is still up for grabs in day three. Anything can happen. There is a 1:33 time gap between me and first and third is within seconds. Of course, the time trail hasn’t been my strong suite so there’s potential to loose places as well. Oh yeah, and it will be pouring with rain.
Stage 3 - Individual Time Trail - 10.8 miles (uphill)
I spent most of the night before stressing about this event. Less than 11 miles and I was most stressed about it! Ugh. This would be my first time racing my new Cervelo P3. I was nervous about being able to handle the new bike and position in the rain.
Needless to say, it didn't turn out well. The roads were wet. My legs were burning. My lungs were burning. I held good power and I finished better than I have at past time trails.... but it wasn't good enough for this race. I lost time and got knocked to 7th GC. Sigh. If that wasn't enough of a let down, the course was one-way which meant riding 6 miles back to my car in pouring rain. I toweled off and changed, loaded up my van, and chugged some local Vermont Maple Syrup milk. OMG it was delicious. So good that I'm making it my new recovery drink. You can find my RECIPE here. While I wasn't too upset about how stage 3 played out, the overall result made me more upset about day 2. I was really feeling upset. While I got lots of encouragement from my coach, friends and family... eh... I just wasn't in high spirits as I got in the van and started my journey home to Ohio. It took a solid 2 days to look on the bright side. My road race USAC rankings went up, currently the 14th nationally ranked CAT1 cyclist. So thats cool. Also, this whole trip was more experience racing and I will only benefit from that. I'm still motivated. Still having fun. Still wanting more!
Next up is Johnson City Omnium. Stay tuned for that adventure!
I love hearing from you guys so add your questions / comments below! And if you enjoy following my adventures and posts, please help out with a small donation to fun my solo cycling + racing by contributing to my GOFUNDME account.