Trophee des Grimpeurs

Or…as we can say in English, the Climbers Cup.  This was another Coupe de France race, with a large 150+ field.  It was an 8k circuit done 8 times. 64k, not so bad? Then you put 1.2k wall in it, and 8 times is the longest countdown you have ever done.  It isn’t that bad of a climb, but goes well over 15% for a good 500m which all you can focus on is putting one foot in front of the other.  The rest of the course contained technical descents, tight corners, and then rinse and repeat the cycle.

You have good days and you have bad days.  I try to limit my bad days to the bare minimum, however they do show up every once in awhile.  A valuable lesson in cycling–you can’t always have a good day.  Sunday, 03 Mai 2009, not a good day for me. 

It started out where I realized I was getting a little sick.  Sore throat, headache, slight fever.  On the pre-run of the course on Saturday afternoon, Chris was dropping me and he was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  Warning sign? Nah, I was just feeling the race from Friday.  That evening he discussed our race strategy.  Go from the gun, attack Jeannie Longo, suprise her, and make her work. Right.  Attack Jeannie Longo.  I am used to just trying to stay on her wheel, but I was motivated.  He took one look at me, and asked if I was feeling all right.  Of course, I am fine.  Just fine.

Morning of the race.  Not feeling so hot, a little feverish.  4 espresso cups later, I am sure I will feel better.  Not so much.  Couldn’t keep any breakfast down, but drank a bunch of water.  Rolled to the start, took a gel.  Ready to rock.  Fever wasn’t feeling so good.

There was a 15 minutes neutral rollout, that consisted of a promenade through town.  There is nothing neutral about a neutral rollout.  It is time to jockey for position and get ready to race.  I was in pretty good position at the start, but not the best.  When I started the wall for the first time, I got slightly gapped from a break.  I chased to get on, got a little boxed in as girls starting just popping.  I chased and then I cramped.  Ouch.  Maybe today was the day to settle in to ride with the peloton.  I was shaking, I was feverish.  The peloton suddenly sounded like a marvelous idea.  It was a bad day.  However, I worked on my position.  I worked on my descending, I worked on my cornering, and I worked on my climbing.  I tried not to lose position in the descents or corners.  I tried to move up in the pack, and suddenly my bad day did turn into a good learning experience.

With 3k to go in the race, I attacked and went nowhere.  With 1k, I attacked again, and stayed away to win the “field sprint”.  Not very impressive, but someone came running up to me at the line and said, “I heard you won the field sprint! Congrats, I knew you had a sprint…” My response, “Well…not really….”

Anyways, so the Climbers Cup was tough. It wasn’t my best day, but I am going to take it right on the chin. I won’t lose any confidence from this, I won’t fear the next race…I am going to continue to build on my skills!

Bring on the Alps dans le weekend!

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