Green Mountain Adventures
In September Ryan O’Boyle and I drove out to northern Vermont to do the Green Mountain Stage Race, it was a first class event all the way around. The week started with a 17 hour drive, which we decided to do through Canada, without an international phone plan and thus without any maps. We made frequent stops to get wifi to figure out where we were but that was no problem since we came across about 458 Tim Horton’s. It’s essentially the McDonalds of Canada (but better), if you haven’t been go and try the maple donut, its like taking a bite into Canada itself. Along our route we went through Toronto and stopped in Montreal for dinner and then made the last few hours of our journey south to bed and breakfast in Warren, VT. The place was the same place some teammates have stayed in years past, it has 5 rooms, and all of them were full of other racers so it made for a pretty cool atmosphere.
The race is 4 stages, an uphill Time Trial, two road races, and a downtown criterium, a similar setup to Joe Martin. The TT didn’t go well for me I don’t know if it’s a mental block or just something I’m poor at but I was back half of the field when the dust settled. O’Boyle went and beat me by about a minute in the 15 minute TT, even he was in the back half of his field. It’s always nice as a cat 2 when they split the fields so I’m not racing against the pro’s and get a better idea of where I stack up. So neither of us were thrilled but there was a lot of racing ahead. The next day was a 75 mile road/circuit race, there were some hills but nothing crazy. The race had KOM points which made things interesting on the hills but still the race finished mostly together, there was a small group with a little gap at the front. I guess some people got shelled though because I moved up a few spots even in the pack finish. O’Boyles race was similar and so we were both looking better heading into Sunday.
Stage 3 was the queen stage, the one with all the stories, its a 95 mile hilly course with a final 3 mile climb at 8%. That is not a typo the average gradient is 8% with the last 500 meters getting above 15%, nobody finishes in the pack, there is no pack. O’Boyle’s field was ahead of us so I didn’t get to see him finish but he had a great day finishing only 5 minutes down, to give you an idea of how good that is 1/3 of his field was 20 more minutes down. I had a tough time half way through my race when it got hot but I started feeling better as the race went on. We were definitely starting to thin out with the hills leading up to the finale. At the base of the climb I was towards the front, I knew I wanted to be up there as people would be going backwards fast. It’s a climb you’d love to be able to do fresh to see what kind of time you could put down but that’s not how they planned it for some reason. I managed 22nd on the day and 4 minutes down as 2 guys were off the front, and from 3rd place by about 2 minutes. Good enough to move up some more on GC.
The final day was the crit, as a midwesterner we do these things every weekend. It was a 6 corner crit in downtown Burlington and has become one of my favorite crits already. The atmosphere was great, one stretch is brick roads and lined with restaurants and shops as people are eating and cheering. Another section is a pretty fast downhill which turns left in the final corner to a really fast uphill finish. I managed 12th place here and moved up to 19th on GC, a solid result considering where I was after day 1. O’Boyle was racing next and up against some of the best racers in the country. National Champ Brad Huff was there with some teammates, also a Cannondale rider, Cycling Academy and some of the best amateurs in the country. 2/3 of his field got shelled in the first 30 minutes and against that field he finished an awesome 21st moving him up on GC quite a bit. The race was a lot of fun, great experience and I totally recommend it. Thanks for driving back O'Boyle.