What a good time I am having for the second year in a row at the Tour of Fitchburg! I had a great time last year with Anna, but it was a different kind of good time. It was the laugh-like-crazy-about-how-crappy-things-are kind of fun. We are positive we took at least 5 years off our life by staying in our mold infested dorm room at Fitchburg college, driving around in the Anna-Sauna (that rhymes, her name is Ah-na) truck w/no AC, and eating all of our meals from the college dining hall buffet (food was good, but I am pretty leery of the germs that lurk in buffets).
But this year we are pretty pimped out. Now we are here with a full team, including two guest riders about as cool as you can get (Sue Haywood of Trek/VW and Genevieve Whitson from New Zealand), in a huge host house pretty much just turned over to us for the week, and eating from a full kitchen our own good, healthy, home-cooked meals. It also feels a lot different because I am in better shape this time around, and after racing through all of NV with stomach problems, I have things a lot more dialed in. I feel ten times better before, during, and after racing.
The first stage was the time trial. Or as one of the funniest blog posts I've read would call it, the trial-of-time. I hate time trialing, and there is not much to say about it. You just go as hard as you can for 7 miles. End of story. I decided to do this with my Powertap so that I could just ride the watts I know I can hold for a 20 minute interval. Unfortunately, this did not go so well, as trying to hold the same watts that I could put out a couple months ago (when I last did a 20 minute test while training) was somehow too much for my body to handle now. I couldn't even hold the same watts as I did back in February. In fact, it was my worst of the five 20 min tests I have now done. Bummer. Don't know what that is about. I wasn't holding anything back, and I would think in a race situation I should be able to produce even a little more than just out training. Perhaps taking a full week completely off after Nature Valley served me well in the rejuvenation sense - I feel great - but left me a full 7% weaker in my 20 min watts. I certainly don't feel weaker, but numbers are numbers and that's why I love my power meter. On the plus side, my time was still almost two minutes faster than when I blew up on this course last year! So that is a major improvement I can smile about.
Sue rode really strong and of course had the fastest time on the team, and poor Lesley missed her start time because of a hold up in the bike check line. Bummer! Everyone was helpful with letting her through, except for one girl who wouldn't let her go ahead (even though it wouldn't have affected her start time at all). Luckily, she was still within her 30 sec slot, but it still shaved off precious time.
Yesterday was the Wachusett Mountain stage. It was a blast! I knew after my time trial that I wasn't going to be able to pull off anything impressive on the killer mountain top finish on this stage, so I decided to try for the points contest. It was a 69 mile race of 6 laps. The first five laps had a points contest to the top of the mountain. It made the race so so so much fun to go after these points. In the past I haven't bothered because I was less confident about finishing the race, let alone accumulating sprint points in the interim. This time it turned one big long race into six mini races. I loved it. Plus, it meant that I had to get myself to the front of the field, and it was a lot more fun to be up there in the mix where the race happens. Sure, I wasted a lot more energy up there, but it was a lot more fun. I ended up winning two of the sprints, got 4th two other times (which counts for nothing) and got totally boxed in on the other so couldn't go for it. That put me 3rd in the contest, and close within reach of the green points jersey, but there are still two more days of racing and a lot of points still out there. The points are still anyone's game and I might not even be in any kind of running by the end of today. But if not, it won't be for lack of trying.
The whole team was GREAT in this race. It was great having Sue in the mix helping me out and reminding me that I was an idiot (my words, not hers) the time when I bridged up to an attack by Cheerwine when Colavita wasn't there and would chase it down anyway. She helped me chill out a bit. Speaking of chill, when we drove up to this stage there was this big Forth of July parade going on in the roads we were supposed to take to get there. So in our detour route, we got totally behind schedule and totally lost. I thought we would miss the start. We made it to the race by the skin of our teeth, with just enough time to put our clothes on, get the bikes and go. Normally I would turn into a stressed out wreck in such a situation. But Jeanette and Sue were both so relaxed and chill about it that I felt like we were okay. They are the perfect race companions. I hope more of that attitude rubs off on me before this trip is over. Sadly for Sue, during the race she ended up with not one but TWO flat tires! Jeanette is one of the best team players, and both times went back to the support car with her and helped her chase back on. The second flat was on the last lap and they were back with the field so fast I seriously couldn't believe they were ever gone. Unfortunately for the both of them, their huge efforts chasing back were almost immediately before the course turned uphill and the intensity turned equally up full tilt all the way to the finish. They had just bridged back up and had no time to recover. They still passed so many people that I wonder what damage they would have done if that had not happened. Sue has a great attitude about it though - she is just out here racing as training for mountain biking anyway, so she just chalked it up to a couple extra good training intervals.
Pictures above are after the race (I loved it when I saw Jeanette at the hot dog stand for her post race recovery fuel) and our 4th of July BBQ. Nothing like steaks after a long race! And this is what happens when you give Jeanette the camera.