Holy smokes that was a hard stage race! But lots of fun - not only the racing but also the road trip to/from, the pre-riding, and all the times between races. Bryce Billing, Carey Jung, and I drove out there in Carey's 32' RV towing his Honda Element against ridiculous headwinds and head/crosswinds. I'm talking 35-40mph sustained! It made for quite the rodeo. Carey did the lion's share of the driving with Bryce providing some relief. I was stressed out just watching them pilot the rig! It took us about 12 hours to get to Silver City on Sunday. We all stayed in the RV that night and then set out for some pre-riding on Monday. After the pre-ride, Bryce and I went over to our host house for the week. Our hosts, Patrick and Eileen, were great! They're a really nice couple and enjoy keeping up with "the Tour." Patrick is a cyclist (not a racer) and loves riding the mountains and cooking. We had some really good meals with them! Eileen also entertained us with some Irish fiddle our last night there. Great times! I highly recommend putting your name in for host housing if you ever go to the Gila race.
OK - enough with the color commentary....on with my Cat 4 race report!
Tour of the Gila Stage 1: Inner Loop Road Race (61.3mi) - 7/48. Pack went pretty hard up the initial climbs leaving Pinos Altos. I wasn't able to climb with the lead group but I was able to catch them on the descent. Thank goodness we pre-rode the descent! I passed a LOT of people going down and I even had a front row seat to watch one guy overcook a corner and hit the deck/brush. Once at the bottom of the descent, I went across the valley with 11 others rotating pulls but I started to fall apart once we got on the road headed back to Silver. 5 had already fallen off the pace. I dangled off the back of our group of 7 on all the hills and eventually fell off at mile 50. I rode the final 11 miles alone but was able to hold off the 5 that we dropped earlier in the valley. There was a bit of a mix up at the finish. The 5 guys that dropped me got turned the wrong way by volunteers once they got into the Ft. Bayard area and had to turn around, except for one guy who knew the course. The officials eventually got everything fixed to everyone's satisfaction.
GC top 10 after Stage 1:
Pl Bib Name Team Time Behind
1 933 Ploransky, Jonathan USA Psimet Zilla Racing 2:44:17 00:00
2 902 Albright, Greg USA Unattached 2:44:21 @ 00:04
3 919 +Hernandez, Ivan USA Catalyst Racing Cycling Team 2:44:23 @ 00:06
4 918 Garza, Marcelo USA 2:44:27 @ 00:10
5 922 LeGore, Kaleb USA " "
6 948 Vaughn, Kevin USA Team El Paso 2:44:54 @ 00:37
** 7 905 Bergman, Donald USA Violet Crown 2:46:11 @ 01:54
8 945 +Tremlett, Mark USA Mimmo Espresso 2:46:42 @ 02:25
9 934 +podzemny, chris USA Kordestani 2:48:37 @ 04:20
10 931 Paris, Jonathan USA Big Orange 2:48:48 @ 04:31
Tour of the Gila Stage 2: Individual Time Trial (16.15mi) - 10/44. I went out too hard but got control of myself about 90 seconds in and measured my efforts up the hills and went as fast as I could down the hills. I took a couple pedal breaks going downhills to help recovery from the climbing efforts. A couple sideways gusts made things a bit interesting going downhill but I was able to stay tucked. Happy with my time all things considered. Shoe covers were pretty warm but manageable. I ran 56/42 chainrings and an 11-25 cassette which felt like a great combination for me on the course and conditions.
GC top 10 after Stage 2:
Pl Bib Name Team Time Behind
1 919 +Hernandez, Ivan USA Catalyst Racing Cycling Team 3:24:35 00:00
2 948 Vaughn, Kevin USA Team El Paso 3:24:39 @ 00:04
3 902 Albright, Greg USA Unattached 3:24:54 @ 00:19
4 918 Garza, Marcelo USA 3:25:32 @ 00:57
5 922 LeGore, Kaleb USA 3:26:15 @ 01:40
6 933 Ploransky, Jonathan USA Psimet Zilla Racing 3:27:00 @ 02:25
7 945 +Tremlett, Mark USA Mimmo Espresso 3:28:17 @ 03:42
** 8 905 Bergman, Donald USA Violet Crown 3:28:27 @ 03:52
9 941 +Sternenberg, B.C USA Team Kordestani Cycling/ ANB 3:30:04 @ 05:29
10 931 Paris, Jonathan USA Big Orange 3:31:10 @ 06:35
Tour of the Gila Stage 3: Silver City Downtown Crit (16.2mi) - 5/44. Goal for the crit was to do no work, not go for any primes, and see what I could put together for the finish. I was treating it as a recovery day. I found that the outside lines were fastest since there was a lot of slowing going into corners. With 4 to go, I moved up toward the front and decided I would make an attack on the final lap just before turn 2 since it seemed wherever you were at the top of the climb after that turn was likely where you would end up at the finish. I wasn't able to make that move due to positioning but I was able to pass a number of people up the climb anyway. I took an outside line through turn 4 into the home stretch and stood to sprint. I was probably 9-10 guys back coming into the corner but ended up passing a few. My bike throw at the line sealed my 5th place finish (wish there was a finish line shot) and a cool five bucks.
GC top 10 after Stage 3:
Pl Bib Name Team Time Behind
1 948 Vaughn, Kevin USA Team El Paso 4:03:05 00:00
2 919 +Hernandez, Ivan USA Catalyst Racing Cycling Team 4:03:11 @ 00:06
3 902 Albright, Greg USA Unattached 4:03:20 @ 00:15
4 918 Garza, Marcelo USA 4:03:58 @ 00:53
5 922 LeGore, Kaleb USA 4:04:41 @ 01:36
6 933 Ploransky, Jonathan USA Psimet Zilla Racing 4:05:22 @ 02:17
7 945 +Tremlett, Mark USA Mimmo Espresso 4:06:43 @ 03:38
** 8 905 Bergman, Donald USA Violet Crown 4:06:53 @ 03:48
9 941 +Sternenberg, B.C USA Team Kordestani Cycling/ ANB 4:08:35 @ 05:30
10 931 Paris, Jonathan USA Big Orange 4:09:23 @ 06:18
Tour of the Gila Stage 4: Gila Monster Road Race (68.9mi) - 10/44. Plan for the day was to do no work until the base of the big climb at mile 50 (this was the decent on Stage 1). One guy escaped early and was joined by a couple more. They ended up putting 3-ish minutes on the field by the time we were stopped for the pro race to pass about 35 miles in. My Garmin died 30 miles in but luckily Bryce was nearby and gave me his when we were stopped. I arrived at the bottom of the Gila Monster climb feeling pretty decent but still unsure of how hard I could go up the mountain. It's a loooong ways. I did pre-ride the climb but that was at easy pace so it was hard to translate into race level effort. I did not want to blow up so I started at what felt manageable and proceeded to dial it up slowly until it hurt just enough. I ended up bridging up to a group of 4 who were setting a pretty decent pace and hung with them all the way to Pinos Altos. It was important that I had them to go across the flatter (windier) sections and down the hills with me. The ramp pins on my 53t chainring were worn so I was having trouble shifting into it. I did a good bit of chasing on the downhills in the 39t ring. One guy was a bit annoying and tried to act like a dad and cheerleader for everybody in the group. I figured that was because he was holding on for dear life and had nothing to give but encouragement. 2 guys jumped at 5K to go but I was unsure of what exactly lay ahead and nobody in the group was a threat to me in the GC so I stuck it out with the other 2. I jumped with 150m to go to claim 10th on the day and 6th in the GC.
GC top 10 after Stage 4:
Pl Bib Name Team Time Behind
1 902 Albright, Greg USA Unattached 7:35:15 00:00
2 948 Vaughn, Kevin USA Team El Paso 7:36:29 @ 01:14
3 922 LeGore, Kaleb USA 7:37:06 @ 01:51
4 933 Ploransky, Jonathan USA Psimet Zilla Racing 7:40:57 @ 05:42
5 945 +Tremlett, Mark USA Mimmo Espresso 7:42:55 @ 07:40
** 6 905 Bergman, Donald USA Violet Crown 7:43:36 @ 08:21
7 918 Garza, Marcelo USA 7:44:40 @ 09:25
8 919 +Hernandez, Ivan USA Catalyst Racing Cycling Team 7:45:00 @ 09:45
9 941 +Sternenberg, B.C USA Team Kordestani Cycling/ ANB 7:45:07 @ 09:52
10 929 O'Neill, Leo USA El Grupo Youth Cycling 7:46:06 @ 10:51
At the beginning of the year, I set a goal for a top 15 finish at this race not having any idea what the competition would be like or how I would fair in some real climbing stages so of course I'm really happy with my results. We loaded up and drove the RV from Silver City to Ft. Stockton on Sunday and stayed the night in the Wal-Mart parking lot after indulging in some victory Sonic burgers, tots, and shakes. We had an overall uneventful drive the rest of the way on Monday and arrived back in Austin at noon.
And finally....look out, Cat 3's! I submitted my upgrade request this morning so I'll be mixing it up in the back of the Cat 3 peloton soon.