Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tour of Virginia

The Tour of Virginia is a 6 day 7 stage event that started started this Tuesday. It started off with a 4 mile individual time trial on an out and back course near Natural Bridge. The course went up a gradual climb of about 700 meters then the rest of the way out was downhill, and the route back went up that hill to a pretty fast downhill into the finish. I started off pretty hard on the first uphill and just set into a decent rythm on the downhill. Then at the turn around I hammered it home as hard as I possibly could. I was satisfied with my ride afterwards. Then about an hour later some people from the race came to my hotel room to tell me I got third place only 2 seconds slower than the winner. I was pretty happy with that result at my first big stage race. As an added bonus to my third place ride I was given a jersey for best U-23 rider.
The next stage was a short 50 minute crit on 4 corner 1 mile course in Lynchburg on Tuesday afternoon. The course had a large downhill between turns 1 and 2 and a steep uphill between turns 3 and 4. I got called up to the line because of my good ride in the time trial. Early in the race a rider in front of me came to a halt in turn 4 and I had to unclip and moved back a bunch of places in the field. I didn't want to waste any energy by trying to move up, so I pretty much stayed in the middle of the group for the rest of the race. The race stayed together so I retained the U-23 jersey for yet another stage.
Stage 3 was a 180k road stage from Bedford to Covington. Along the course there were 2 category 3 climbs and a 12k cat 1 climb at about 140 k into the race. There were also many rollers along the way. I felt pretty good for most of the day. A break went about 80 or so kilometers on one of the rolling hills and stayed for the rest of the day. I was too far back for this split, but two of my teammates made the split. I felt ok at the base of the cat one climb, but about 2 k later just lost my power and started to go backwards in my group. As the climb progressed I went further and further back and felt really bad. Over the top I was in a group of three people and just chugged on to the finish that was 30 k away. I finished 12 minutes down on the winner and lost the best young rider jersey.
Stage 4 was the toughest stage of the race. It was also about 180 k long and started with a cat 3 climb to start the day at about 50 k in. Then at about 80 k there was a 12k long cat 1 climb, and at 145 k there was another 9k long cat 1 climb to finish off the day before a decent into Waynesboro. I didn't feel that good today but mentally told myself I could do it. I was ok on the cat three climb and was in decent position on the first cat 1 but felt horrible. I was going as hard as I possibly could which was horrible and just started going back and back and back. I crested the climb with a group of 3 or 4 guys and we worked together for a while until about 10 or 12 more guys caught us. This was around 100 k in. I didn't have any more water and food and just felt horrible. There was a feed zone around 125 k and I got some food and bottles from other teams and decided to keep going. I ate and drank but still felt horrible. I started getting dropped on little rollers and knew that a cat 1 climb loomed in the distance and there were still 50 k to go. I knew there was no way that I could stay with the people in my group over that climb and decided to pull the plug at kilometer 135. It was a very tough decision, but I didn't want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere dehydrated and cramping.
I am a little disappointed that I didn't get to finish this race, but it is literally one of the hardest races in America as far as terrain and distance go. I also know what I have to work on for race like this in the future and am confident in myself. I am also very happy with my result in the first stage.