by Brendan Housler
stage 1 started today with a chilly 49F temperature...time to double up the jerseys, slide on the arm warmers, and my new go-to (thanks to Andy), Badger Balm on the knees and legs to cut that chill...
10 miles in is the first climb...yeah, it was way tougher than it looks on paper!...there were King of the Mountain points at the top...well, we actually went over the top then it went down a little bit, which allowed me to snag the maximum 5 points!
10 miles of rollers, many which were pretty steep, which allowed us to continue the dropping of about 10-15 riders....then the long descent...the scenery was amazing! but since we were ripping down at 50mph, i didn't get to scope it out too much!
Some twisting and turning to the last climb...which was 5 miles long! wasn't toooo steep, and i think we dropped a few people, but most stayed together...as the second KOM opportunity arose, 3 guys were in front of me which seemed like i'd be able to have them inadvertently lead me out to another point opportunity....wrong! it got to the point where i could go hard and maybe blow up for like a point, but pulled back and only took 4th (no points, so just as good as last)...so we're not sure if my 5 is enough for KOM leader; we'll find out tomorrow.
Descend down towards the finish...some strong moves and eventually finished in 8th, but the top 14 got the same time, so i didn't lose any ground...we gapped like 20 seconds on 15-18, and 2 minutes on the rest.
so overall, a pretty good race, glad i could hang with some serious climbers...tomorrow's last hill looks freakin SCARY! think we may drive it to scope it out...
just elevating the legs now and hoping for another good day of riding...maybe get some KOM and an overall top 10 which i would be stoked about...
Dan just plugged his Garmin in and it said we did 5900 ft of climbing today. Awesome!
The final stage of tour was upon us on Sunday, sitting in around 10th place overall...I was looking for a podium position or KOM points, with any chance of GC contention nearly impossible.
The day started out pretty smooth with some small inclines, and I was able to place 3rd on the first KOM line, giving me one point...that pretty much took me out of contention for overall KOM unless I did some crazy climbing on the last hill...which is exactly where I'll skip to because the rest of the race was high speed rollers and a few attacks that were pulled back with ease.
One guy shot off from the gun and actually stayed away from the peloton until the very last climb! 40+ miles solo...very impressive. At the base of the 4.6 mile climb I sat in about 8th position. Slowly the pace got too brutal, and I was forced to drop back a little bit so I didn't completely blow up, which would really ruin me for the rest of the climb. After about 20-30 minutes of straight grunt work, I found myself in the 3rd chase group. 8 in lead pack, 5 in first chase, 5 in second chase. Once we made it to the top it was allll downhill and we were ripping through town. At one point I thought we were going to catch the first chase group, but we never did. I got punked on the sprint and finished in 15th...
my only regret of the whole tour was that I should have pushed harder on the final climb. It's such a fine line of going your max and dipping in and out of the red zone, without absolutely breaking the bolts off, which would completely crush you and you'd be done. other than that, I thought I raced pretty well with an extremely talented Cat 3 field.
at the end of it all, when you combine Saturday and Sunday together, we climbed almost 11,0000 feet according to a friend's bike computer...so any way you cut it, we did a ton of climbing for 100 miles...climbs around here are mentally getting easier and easier.