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!

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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3 Responses to #7743

  1. Jim says:

    I told you once before. You will be fine at L’Etape. Do your own pace and stop at all the feed zones in addition to taking along your own gels/bars. Stayed topped off on your food and fluids. That’s most important in my view. You will always have someone around you to ride with. If they are to slow, move on to the next group. They won’t be far away in L’Etape. And don’t be frustrated if you have to get off and walk a bit on the first mountain or two depending on the timing.

    You are more than capable of doing well Ted and you will have ridden most, if not all the climbs, in the day or two prior to the race so you will know what to expect. Just don’t approach the race like a crit. Settle in for a 6+ hour ride and you will be fine.

  2. Ted M. says:

    Thanks for the words of wisdom, Jim.

    The climbs more than the distance have me a little intimidated. I’ve never done real mountains except one time around Lake Tahoe – we circled the 70-mile lake perimeter but didn’t climb to any of the surrounding summits. Just plain ol’ fear of the unknown!

  3. patrick says:

    …indeed, the ever-elusive century. I seem to be an 85mi man…rarely more. The closest I’ve come is when riding with you just after Christmas…we rode with some folks who were so slow that you had to give me a ride home from the shop instead of me riding home, which had my odo stopping at 98mi…bugger…maybe I should’ve rolled the wheel while we were on the ferry!

    Anyhoo, Winghaven was fine, <5 folks went down in our race, and it was dry...missed you there, but I understand.

    Best of luck in France, and I look forward to your TdF fitness coming back to StL for some bike racing!!!!

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