Sunday, July 13, 2014

Rundle Mountain Road Race Scorcher

Wanting to get in a good road hill climb workout, I opted to jump into the road stage of the Rundle Mtn stage race. With a Cat 1/2/3 women's licence, I was to race with the Cat 3 men. With no hill in the Criterium and the powerful jump guys have, it was an easy decision not to join in all the stages.

There was plenty of time before the 10:50 a.m. start though I certainly doddled getting ready. Fortunately, awesome ultra rider Dallas Morris was near my car and offered his assistance. He saved me time to tape my race plate on the bike. A few 100m of warmup after dropping off a spare water bottle at the feed zone (thanks Tiff!), I was in the corral with the Cat 3 men waiting for our call up to the line.

Minutes before the race, kudos to CP Walsh who was ready to race and offered up his bike to a young teammate whose brake was damaged, so the youngster could continue in the stage race.

After the short neutral start to the main road, the pace went hard. I wondered if I made the right decision to join in! It was easy enough to get settled amidst the pack, as the odd attack went off the front.

Ha, this profile needs to be majorly stretched out as the course was more rolling

The course was a rolling 6 loops of 16.5 km with a 30m elevation 10% grade at each end (reminiscent of Cameron Ave in Edmonton).

Fortunately, on the Three Sisters Parkway side there was a round-about after the climb which gave enough time to latch back onto the pack. Each time the pack approached these climbs, it's like the boys saved all their energy to power up as hard as they could. After a fast descent, the peloton rode casual in the middle sections.

I was close to the front of the peloton as that is where I prefer to be. A smarter strategy if I had wanted to stay with this group, would have been to cling onto the latter half of the pack and rest for the power climb. Not my style of riding!

On the 2nd climb up the Spray Lakes Road side with the 180 sharp turn around a pylon, I struggled with the turbo pace the boys went. A couple stragglers still ahead of me which I did not work hard enough to latch onto as I still heard a strong guy behind me.

On the descent, I waited for the strong guy to come by ready to jump on his wheel back to the peloton. Looking over my shoulder, darn, he dropped out!

Doh, we had only finished 2 laps of 6. Immediately, my little gremlins began nattering to drop out as I would have to ride 4 loops all alone in the heat and wind. I managed to sway them that I was here for a training hill climb road day and got them to stop!

Riding alone, it was cool to get to blow straight thru the few intersections as the volunteers were very attentive to stop traffic.

Felt good to get half way done. End of my 4th loop I managed to catch up to one Cat 3 guy. What a difference it made to work together and get a breather every so often. I took lead on most of the climbs, while he took the descents.

Into the last loop, the wind direction switched in a good way. It was now a tailwind towards the finish. What I did not notice was the last section going east was now into the wind. My left adductor began to cramp scaring me from pushing too hard up the last 10% climb. My buddy surprisingly took off on me. Up ahead there was a straggling Cat 3 guy, so I guess it was a guy thing.

Women's peloton climbing up Three Sisters Parkway - photo Speed Theory

There were 3 separate races going on at the same time… Cat 1/2, Cat 3 and me, Cat 3/4/5 women. As we passed each other each lap, it was cool to watch how the races split apart. I waved or nodded at most of the women hanging in there on their own. One woman broke away strongly and it seemed we were going about the same pace, separately. Would have been fun to ride together in the same race.

I caught up to the straggling Cat 3 guy up the last tiring climb to the Nordic Centre and stayed in pace with him. Looking back behind me, I saw that the huge peloton of Cat 1/2 men were about to finish. I hollered at him "they're right behind" and darted off for the line.

All in all a good workout, hot day, fended off cramps. I WAS toasted… went straight for the car and guzzled my fresh watermelon juice! Only thing I forgot in my early haste was to load up on salt supps… it was one of the first really hot days… and my first cycling race of the season.

rough cellphone shot

Brought home a haul of at least 50 litres of spring water from the Canmore spring… always a good thing!

RED loaded with spring water, two bikes, surfski, juicer, Vitamix, dehydrator…
off for playtime!