Oh man GMSR was quite an experience this year. I had told myself I would be happy getting in the top 20 and I managed it at 18th overall. But I am left wanting more because I know I can get more from myself. I could have played a few moves smarter, taken a few more risks here or there and a few less risks here or there. I guess that is why I keep coming back to this race every year.
Day 1 (5.6 mile Merckx TT): So I was Tim A’s 30 second man. For those of you who don’t know Tim he has won the Mt. Washington Hillclimb overall in the past and consistently podiums it every year (Overall, not age group). So my objective was to just not let him pass me today. The TT is short and difficult to pace because it starts with a 1.5 mile climb, transitions to a rolling downhill, then really kicks up for the last 500 meters to the line. I accomplished my goal even though Tim was only about 1 bike length behind me at the end which ended up netting me 25th which was about 1:05 behind the winner.
Day 2 (107 Mile circuit, 2 laps): So, this was the day that I “had a plan” for. The course is actually the road course from Killington Stage Race but with one change that removes the KOM climb and doesn’t go up the access road. But of course, we do two laps of this thing to make it a circuit race… The course is still relatively challenging with a new KOM point added at the top of a climb that starts at mile 2 and ends at mile 5. My plan was to try and get away after the KOM on the downhill since breaks were typically formed there during Killington. Sadly, everyone else had the same idea and I ended up missing out on one of the attacks that was let go near the end of the descent. All I can say is that I sat in where I could and attacked where I had an opportunity. I was surprised that I was marked enough that people were not even willing to let me roll alone off the front, each of my attacks were sucked back in. In the end, there was a winning move of 4 that got away on the flat section after a dirt climb on Lap 1 which finished about 1:20 ahead of the field by the end of the race. It is worthwhile noting that the last 3k of the race was a straight line of cars all the way to the finish, most of the field decided to play it safe and not sprint except for that ONE dude who decided to thread the needle in order to snag 5th place.
Day 3 (103-mile P2P road race): WORST. DAY. ON. A. BIKE. Or at least it was when we started looking back at it makes it feel epic (As my friend Will says; Type IIb fun). Of course, it had to be about 50 degrees and pouring rain during neutral roll out. I was so cold that the second the 4-mile neutral roll out was over I immediately began attacking just to warm myself up. Needless to say, everyone also had the same idea which made the start of the race pretty active. The first real test came in the form of the new Roxbury Gap climb they added this year. I found myself needing to catch back up to the lead group over the climb due to bad positioning at the start but overall it was just a good opportunity to keep the legs pumping and get my body temperature back to a normal range. After catching back up to the lead during the descent we began to attack each other again, lo and behold THIS time I was able to get away with 4 other guys that worked well together, at least until the next climb. Me and another racer I know we’re leading the group up the climb and both agreed we didn’t care about the KOM points, for whatever reason a guy from Mike’s Bikes decides to launch an attack for those same KOM points that me and Connor followed with a heavy tempo. Sadly, the two other members of the break were not able to keep up and by the time we caught Mr. Mike’s on the descent there were three of us. This was definitely NOT GOOD. Behind us were the major teams and major firepower, I knew we were doomed from there on and it didn’t help that my two break mates missed a right-hand turn after the descent and I needed to wait for them to back track which easily cost us 30 seconds of our 1:30 advantage over the top of the climb. From there it wasn’t too long of a wait until a chase group of about 8 came flying up and caught us right before another KOM point at which point me and Connor were promptly shelled from that group. The rest is sort of a blur, Connor had very little gas left after we unsuccessfully tried to chase back on and I ended up dragging us to the base of Baby Gap where we were caught by the remainder of the field which simply blew past us. Baby Gap and App Gap were just misery, I was barely able to do my endurance power over both App and Baby Gap. In the end, me and Connor finished about 30 seconds apart with me in the lead almost 14 minutes down on the winner (Tim A.) and in 22nd place. What is most notable about this was upon reaching the top the race promoter had set up emergency shelters and cargo vans with space heaters to keep cyclists warm and they provided transport for us and the bikes back down the mountain. I can’t give Gary (RD) enough credit for having this set up for us, I really don’t know if I would have survived the descent.
Day 4 (30 mile downtown Burlington VT Crit): Not much to say here aside from me successfully hanging on this year. It is a 6 corner crit that is always nuts. Tim A. had asked for my help defending the leader’s jersey since he only had one other teammate, I told him I would try but that I would probably not be doing that well in the crit, sadly this proved to be the case and he ended up losing the jersey by the end of the race. I feel bad I couldn’t help, it wasn’t for lack of trying and ultimately he isn’t my teammate so it was not really my job but I wish I could have actually done something to help him.
I swear every year I will never do this race again because it is so brutal and by the time I am driving home I can’t wait till it rolls around. At least I accomplished my own personal goal of a top 20 by getting 18th in GC. For next year I hope to be 10 lbs lighter, 20 watts stronger (I can dream, right?).