Green Mountain Stage Race 2014

Here is Pat’s report from Green Mountain:

Conclusion: I’m going back to GMSR next year. It was awesome. I’ve always been too burned out to do this race, but I took a break in late June/early July, skipped Catskills, and was ready to rock come Labor Day weekend.

Stage 1 – 5.7mi time trial. It felt like it was 80% uphill, but I think in reality it was somewhat less than that. Hard, as a TT should be. There’s a little dip right before the finish, you go up a steep hill and think you’re almost done, but then have another 500m slight uphill grind to the finish. This killed me. I managed 41 out of 81.
Stage 2 – 72 mi road race (3.7ish laps of a 20 mi loop. One steady uphill grind past the feedzone, otherwise not particularly selective. The last time up this the 15 or so of us at the front got a big gap, but got shut down about 7 miles later. GC guys didn’t seem particularly motivated to work. My plan here was to sit in all day, and I succeeded in that regard. It was hard! There was a break of 8 guys up the road with 45 seconds for what felt like hours, and the gap wasn’t coming down. I was worried, but told myself I was focused on the road race, and to save my energy. Fortunately others chased this down just before the finish, and we all got the same time.
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Race support staff (aka friends and family) relaxing at the feedzone. Give these guys a pat on the back next time you see them, couldn’t do it without them!

Stage 3 – 68 mi loop, down 100, over Middlebury Gap, up 116, and up App Gap. We did this in July, with the exception of a little detour up Notch road, a short but steep climb followed by a bunch of reasonable but annoying dirt. My plan was to save my energy for the end. We started with an absurdly long and slow neutral start. Short after the end of the neutral we were passed by the 4s, then by the 50+. At some point we passed the 50+, then they passed us, then we passed them, but the leaders got in the way and yelled at us. There was no need for hostilities. Apparently a couple of these guys have a reputation for being rude, but that’s another story. Anyways! Up Middlebury we end. It was much harder than I remembered. 2 guys got up the road, then another 4, then a group of 4 that included me. It was a nice fast decent, better with fewer people. Our group swelled, and we caught the 4 up the road after a little bit. The next 10 miles as we headed north from the bottom of Middlebury up to Notch Road were steady but hard. I was safely ensconced in the pack but working to keep up the pace. It didn’t look like the guys ahead of me were working quite as hard, but I had to trust they were. Up and over Notch we went, and before we knew it we were making the right onto 17 and up Baby Gap. NBD. The two guys up the road had 3 minutes by this point, they weren’t coming back. 2 others got a gap over Baby Gap and kept it going, holding maybe 20 seconds on the field. 4.5km to go, slight downhill, and I knew it was up hill the rest of the way from our July reconnoissance. I used my momentum to pop out of the pack, saw I had about 100m, and put the pedal to the metal. Before I knew it I caught the 2 guys who were just ahead of the field. “Hey hey, let’s do this!” I said as I passed them. They hung on for about 7 seconds and were promptly 100m behind me the next time I looked back. Oh well. At 1k to go a group of 4 emerged from the pack and caught up to me. There wasn’t much collaboration to be done on the steep slopes of App Gap, but these guys pushed me to keep going. At 200m to go the our group fractured – I moved up to second in this group, but the first guy pulled away over the next hundred meters. I dug deep, but couldn’t quite catch him and finished 4th on the day. I’ll take it! I pulled off to the left and spend about 30 seconds sitting on my top tube, leaning forward, and breathing very very rapidly. Ouch. I did App Gap in 15:19, a full 2 minutes faster than my time in July, when I was certainly trying hard, and fresh (not having raced 72 miles the day before). As a bonus, about 20 minutes later I got to witness Dan winning the 2’s race off the front, in classic Dan fashion. Cheering him on as he came up the road and crossed the line was awesome.
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Pat afterwards. Confused. Exhausted. Cold.

Stage 4 – Burlington Criterium. 30 laps. I was 11th on GC, and with the taste of some stage race upgrade points I was motivated to not get dropped. This is a classic technical downtown crit, a 0.6mi, 6 corner course. A steady hill up and past the finish line, which continued climbing after a left hand turn, then stayed flat over the next 4 turns before a quick decent and a fast turn onto the hill. Maybe surprising, but I was losing ground on the hill, and fighting to make up places on the back side. What an interval workout, geeze. This stage was similarly difficult to stage 3 in my opinion. It went full gas for the first 20 mins, slowed slightly to maybe 95% for the following 10 minutes, then full gas for the remaining 15. There were 3 crashes that I’m aware of, all on the first turn as you continued up the hill, on the bricks. Nice bricks though, those were a factor in the crashes. I think folks were just crushing it up the hill and ran out of room when taking the turn. I was not involved in any of these. Before I knew it there were 5 laps to go and I could taste it. I dug deep and finished, moving up to 9th on GC. It feels odd for me to say this about a crit, but it was fun. What a course. And it was amazingly motivating to have the Grinta guys plus Dan’s parents scattered around the course cheering me on. A little encouragement can do wonders when you’re in the pain cave.
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Slightly off the back. Man am I lucky things slowed down a touch as folks took the turn about 50m after this (next photo).

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Turn 1: fast, but I still made up ground here lap after lap after lap

What a weekend. I love Vermont. I had a plan to save energy and rock the road race, and that worked out perfectly. As a bonus I finished the crit and did well on GC. Couldn’t ask for more. I was very conscious of (1) eating and drinking before, during, and after all the races and (2) saving all my matches until I really really needed them. I think these two things were kept me where I needed to be and allowed me to have the pop in my legs when I needed it. And I can’t thank Dan’s parents enough for all the help they gave me, from chauffeuring me around to bottle hand ups and snacks after the races . Couldn’t have done it without them.
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