Sunday, September 01, 2013

Haute Route Pyrenees Day 1 - Wonderful Undulating Terrain

Stage 1 - Solsona to La Seu d'Urgill, 85 km, 2800m+, 2800m-

Bus trip from Barcelona to Solsona arriving early at 9:30 a.m. Race was to start at 11:30 a.m. so more than enough time to chill, pick up the bike, and get drinks ready.

Friendly racers with easy conversations with most anyone. One older French man racer saw my green morning drink, guessed it was "spiruline" and said he looked forward to seeing me racing. After the race, he saw that I had a good race and said he will now look into drinking "spiruline"!

I started with the first wave, as did a whole bunch of fit looking women. We rode a crazy loop around the village, neutralized, down the skinniest street I have ever ridden with a peloton, and on cobblestones. After 2 km, we crossed the timing mat and flew in a huge peloton up the first climb. Gentler than the Alps.

Looking at the profile, I liked the undulating climbs whereas the Alps are solid uphill climbs. My strange standing hillclimb technique works much better here.

Hope to get tips from the World's best ski mountaineer racers!
Valerie Berthod & Laetitia Roux
The peloton began to blow apart and I grabbed whoever's wheel I could. Another woman in the peloton from the ski mountaineer team, Valerie Berthod, was riding powerfully in the drops. I found I would get gapped on a steep pitch but could then accelerate on a gentler pitch and easily catch the small group as they spun at the same pace. Thanks to ERTC Thursday hill workouts ;)

Nearing the top of the first climb, I glanced to my right as did the racer next to me... and we both gasped "beautiful". It was the distant view of Solsona with brilliantly blue lakes next to it amongst the erratic landscape.

riding in the Pyrenees! -

The descents in the Pyrenees were skinnier with more blind corners. Fortunately, a motorcycle patrol would guide us down forewarning oncoming traffic of which was little. It helped to mark the motorcyclist's turns. I managed to descend well and grabbed onto a couple speedy guys at various times. Most racers seemed abit apprehensive. I was missing Ruud.

Team Girls of Ski Mountaineering
with Compression Socks & variety of shoes!
With the undulating course, it was hard to tell when we were at the real summit. I focused on the pace of one or two guys, and was surprised to catch up to Laetitia Roux, the French World Champion Ski Alpinist. I stayed the pace of my boys and passed by.

With the final descent, I needed alot of brain energy to concentrate. The road was bumpy (Canada-like) and there was an uncertainty if there would be gravel on the corners. I was happy to see the 10 km, and 5 km to go signs. Almost cramped on the last pitch with 6 km to go, though talked my muscles into being calm and managed to hang onto the boys. The last couple km were flat and I had two awesome guys to follow.

Excited to be on podium with the strong young women,
1st Marina Ilmer, 3rd Laetitia Roux
I had no idea who was ahead though saw a woman racer looking fresh at the finish, it was Marina Ilmer from Italy. I squeaked in 2nd! A very good effort of a day, and I was pleased "my legs were back"!

Awesome to hang out with the Team Girls of Ski Mountaineering!
- photo Laetitia Roux

Waiting for my massage, I took the opportunity to get a happy snap with Greg Lemond. I told him I was a fan and had the Sports Illustrated magazine with him on the cover from back in the day. He was so easy to speak with.

Greg got super excited when we got on the topic of my big ring standing climbing technique. He gave tips on how to get me to break out of it to the smaller ring with higher frequency so I could be quicker yet. Real genuine personality.

Race briefing held in an old church
Day 1 stats:
29th of the 330 total racers
5th of the 33 Iron racers

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Ruud van Dijk said...

so you _will_ take Mr. Lemond's advice?

Ruud van Dijk said...

but seriously, wish I could have been there on those descents; happy racing, looks like you'll have your hands full with Marina

Marg Fedyna said...

Maybe, once I get a power meter. I do think I have the out-of-the-saddle-climb honed!

Marina is plain powerful on the super steep climbs! Laetitia and Valerie are super strong ski mountaineer racers that are in the mix! All good comradry amongst us.

You would have loved the descents!

Aaron Falkenberg said...

Marg, your climbing technique is awesome! Chris Horner does exactly the same thing. You're the only two I've ever see do that.

Marg Fedyna said...

Thanks Aaron! My technique worked better in the inconsistent climbs of the Pyrenees than the consistent steep grunts in the Alps. Does Horner spin in the small ring or grind in the big ring? Lemond was advising on spinning quicker in the small ring, still standing.

Aaron Falkenberg said...

He turns over a huge gear at a lower rpm. It's pretty amazing to watch. So smooth, the complete antithesis of Thomas Voeckler's standing style.

Marg Fedyna said...

Huge gear, interesting...!