That’s my bib number for l’Etape du Tour – it arrived in the mail this past weekend. Guess I’m committed now!
My hiatus from the local race scene began a little early. I had intended to do Winghaven, but being 6 weeks out from l’Etape it was a borderline commitment at best. When the rain started falling a few hours before start time that killed it. Last thing I want to do is get myself crashed out of a race by some stupid kid sprinting for 12th place and wind up with a broken collarbone. Good decision, I think, as I heard it was a real crashfest! I’ve stopped doing the Tues crits for now, too to do more tempo riding during the week along with my big-mile, big-climb rides on the weekends.
Last Saturday I did my first century. It’s hard to believe after all these years of riding I still had never done a century. I’ve done loads of 80-90ish mile rides – it would have been easy enough to tack on an extra 10 or 15 miles. I just never saw the need. Now I do! My plan is to get in 3 or 4 centuries in the last few weeks before France. For this first one, I rode from my house to Chesterfield Valley to meet up w/ Jose – pooching the Doberman climb along the way. Once Jose and I hooked up we got onto the BugMan “ultra” route (includes the Bouquet/Fox Creek/Six Flags/Allenton loops) in reverse. We did the Allenton loop counterclockwise, a first for me – that last climb is one long sustained s.o.b.! But I felt good about my climbing, and that continued on the Six Flags and Wood climbs. Jose needed to start heading back once we got on St. Paul, so I continued solo on the St. Paul and Ries climbs and then did some tempo through Valley Park before doing Marshall. Not long after starting up the Marshall climb I started having difficulty. I upshifted to my 21t, but that still wasn’t low enough, so I swallowed my pride and put it in my 23t. I struggled horribly. Then I looked down and noticed I had the chain in my big chainring – arghh! Well, that at least eased my pride. I popped it into the small chainring, upshifted into my 19t, and climbed nicely at threshold to the top. Adams also went well, but around mile 75 as I was riding north along Geyer I started getting that sick hungry feeling. I thought I’d eaten enough between the bars and the drinks, but there was no mistaking that sick feeling – I knew I needed to get something more substantial to eat or I would bonk! I found a gas station, scarfed down a turkey sandwich and a quart of vitamin water. That made me feel better, but the combination of rolling terrain, stiff headwinds, and 90+ degree heat over the next 20 miles was almost more than I could handle. At mile 92 in the Valley I cracked! I was 13 miles from home. The odometer read 104.5 when I pulled up to the quarter-mile long, 16% grade leading into my neighborhood. I was only a half mile from the house, and it was really tempting to say fudge it and walk the bike up the hill – but damned if I was gonna quit at that point. It was the 16th climb of the ride, and I don’t think I’ve ever done a slower cadence in my life.
I’ll try it again next weekend!