Sunday, June 12, 2016

THE Killington Stage Race and the Curious Case of El Puncheur

I raced THE Killington Stage Race over Memorial Day weekend. I am proud to say I have weaseled my way from Cat 4 to Cat 3. (This upgrade was due to some hard work but mostly weaseling).

Anywho, this means I now get to ride in the Pro Cat 1/2/3 waves with the BIG girls. Besides for the small fact that this new category means I must ride CENTO per CENTO. Here is what I have learned so far:

CENTO PER CENTO. Say: chento pear chento. The Italian version of 100 percent.

Day 1 was the Circuit Race. Sixty miles of racing with lung busting, quad burning races within the race: Queen of the Mountain challenges and 2 Sprint competitions each lap. My 'big plan' was to contest every QOM, recover and regroup, and then set myself up in the second row as the big sprinter girls charged for sprint points. My 'big plan' as we sprinted through the line would be to continue to attack VOLLEBAK style when everyone else sat up to briefly recover from the sprint.

VOLLEBAK. Say: Foll-back. If you're riding with a group of cyclists and someone says this Flemish term, go as hard as you can.  Unfortunately non of my VOLLEBAK attack-attempts worked for long but I found these A BLOC efforts invigorating. 

A BLOC. Say: Ah block. Another common French term for all-out efforts.

I finished up Day 1 in 5th. Not bad, but considering how my quads felt I was wishing I had a BIDON AU MIEL.

BIDON AU MIEL. Say: bee-don oh mee-all. A French term literally meaning sticky bottle. When a rider pretends to be getting a water bottle from the team car but hangs on and gets a tow. A general term for getting a pull when you need one.  (So I ate a few post ride donuts instead. No team car, sticky bottles or teammates but I had donuts.)

Day 2 was the Mountain Road Race. It was an exceptionally challenging 70 mile day with plenty of climbing.  There was some attacks in the first 45 min but it was nearly impossible for any team to make a successful break and the wind on race day forced our pack to be UN COUPE DE BORDURE.

UN COUPE DE BORDURE. Say: un coo de borr-derr.  When a crosswind forces riders to fan across the road seeking shelter from another rider. The wind was relentless and I seemed to find myself a bloc at the front WAY. TOO. OFTEN. I can't help it. I am a BAROUDEUR.

BAROUDEUR. A rider who loves to attack and mix it up.

I could also smell the first Queen of the Mountain approaching which meant it was time to go VOLLEBAK again!  I charged uphill and after 5 minutes of climbing found myself in LA FUGA! And la fuga is just where I love to be!

 LA FUGA. Say: la foo-gah. A delightfully colorful Italian term for THE BREAK.

It was myself, Stephanie Wetszel from SAS-Mazda team, Amy Bevilacqua, and possibly another SAS-Mazda rider in the breakaway. I was charging uphill and was delighted to hear heavy horse breathing coming from behind.  This only made me charge harder. I stole a glance backwards and I could tell 2 of the girls were FAIRE LELASTIQUE. 

FAIRE LELASTIQUE. Say: fair lass-teek. This French term is more like praise for resilience than condemnation and refers to the valiant struggle to hang on. When the rider repeatably lets a gap open then claws back to the group.  

I saw 1K to go for the QOM and charged.  The elastic snapped. It was now myself and the powerhouse Amy Bevilacqua. I crossed the line 1st for QOM points and Amy asked what we should do as we still had 40 miles of riding and it was a 2 girl la fuga against 30 quadzillas. I knew we didn't have time to waste because as soon as Stephanie got swallowed by the pack, SAS-Mazda and Green Line Velo teams would get organized and start to chase hard. 

30 pairs of quads against 2. You do the math!

So Amy and I did the only sane thing two cyclist would do: Sprint for dear life! I can't say how exhilarating and mentally exhausting it was to be in a 2 girl break with 40 miles left of racing. Fortunately we were getting updates from the lead officials and motos that our lead was, miraculously, growing! We were in a tight 2 girl pace line swapping leads every 15 seconds.  

The struggle was real.

In French the suffix -eur changes a verb into an agent noun. So going with this theme every 15 seconds I shifted between the leadeur and the chaseur and was consistently a big whineur.  

But alas, I knew once we hit the last 5K uphill portion we would be in a safe haven. No one could catch us on the steep ascent.  (Note: this was optimist thinking considering I was waffling between thinking my quads were going to explode to absolutely certain my quads had just exploded. And then I would double check. Nope. Quads were always miraculously still intact.) 

Finally we hit the base of the final climb. And this is when it because evident that I was EL GANCHO. I was unquestionably, without a doubt, EL GANCHO.

EL GANCHO. Say: el gan-cho. Spanish for being at your limit - those times if the pace picks up even a tiny bit, you'll be finished. Like a fish on a hook being pulled from the water, a rider in this state is leaning far forward and gasping. Good visual, huh?

Final Climb

Day 3 was the Time Time. Nothing too exciting to report here except we can cycle back to  CENTO PER CENTO. This is all you need to know about a proper TT. If you have to ask yourself if your going hard enough, you're not.  And then if you ride hard enough: 

Chomp, chomp!
Next up: Mount Washington and then Ironman AUSTRIA

Thank you as always for my sponsors who let me wave my crazy flag!!

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