Monday, July 04, 2005

Le Tour de 'Burg 2005 - Stage 1

I hear that there's some little bike race that started up this weekend in france - the tour de something or other - but this weekend's real action was just a couple of hours away from DC in the great expanses of road and forest surrounding Harrisonburg, Virginia. Friday evening Matt and i set out on the road to take on the first stage of the tenth running of the legendary Tour de Burg.

Carpellini, Chris Scott, Jenkini - See All the Pics on Flickr

It's a hard event to describe, even after having done it - part ride, part race, and completely epic. The event consisted of timed sections with neutral parade sections in between and some sprint & king of the moutnain points thrown. Saturday's stage was a variation of the Southern Traverse ride that i did a couple of months ago, but instead of the 34 miles we did a few months ago, according to the tour website this stage would be at least 50 miles with 5000' of climbing, with 2 timed sections, 2 sprints on the road back, and 2 KOMs.

We arrived at Braley's Pond with plenty of time to sign in and get ready to ride and surprisingly the ride started almost on-time, not a likely occurence for a grassroots event with over 60 riders showing up. During the pre-race meeting, the route was annouced as being 65 miles, with no support untill 35 miles in (before the start of the road ride back to the start).

We started out by riding rolling fireroads out of the Braley's Pond area to 250, then a few miles down 250 to the bottom of Georgia Camp Hollow - a long fireroad & singletrack climb up to Shenandoah Mountain and the first timed section of the race. I set a steady but solid pace up the climb, trying to keep plenty of reserves for what would be a long day in the saddle. I ended up finishing with Matt & a couple of other riders 11 minutes behind the winner (Jeremiah Bishop).

After a regrouping break at the top of the climb, the organizers announce that we had had a king of the mountain section ahead, with the finish line 1 mile up a steep fireroad, followed by 3 miles of neutral parade on fireroad & singletrack to the start of the long timed section on the Shenandoah Mountain Trail. I had no intention of trying to contest the KOM so i started off near the back of the group which started really slowly - I think there was some confusion about whether the KOM started a mile ahead or finished there. I cut around a couple riders where i had a chance, but only because i stood a better chance of staying upright if i moved a bit faster. Before i knew it i was out in front of the main pack and had a pretty good rythym going and was passing a few more riders. As a rounded a corner a couple of the organizers told me to cross the KOM line they'd drawn in the dirt and i'd take 4th in the KOM. I'd like to say that i'd beaten bishop & eatough and the others up the hill, but i'm sure it was only beacuse they weren't contesting it.

from the end of the KOM we had a parade section for a couple of miles, first on fireroad and then cutting onto the shenandoah mountain trail, before getting to benson run and the start of the next timed section. the timed section from on the shenandoah mountain trail from benson run to the end of the ridge was about 17 miles and is the same as the ride we did back in may during the MORE camping trip (on that ride we climbed up benson run on the fireroad) so i felt pretty good at this point, since i knew what was coming for the rest of the ride. about 2/3 of the way along the ridge my legs started to cramp. we were almost 5 hours into the ride, with over 4000' of climbing under our belts to this point and my legs were starting to rebel. i was drinking consistently, but i think i mixed the GU2O in my camelback to weakly that morning and i didn't have any other way to get any more electrolytes into my system. i limped in the last couple of miles, crawling along every time the trail turned upwards and spinning out my cramps. i managed to make it to the road almost 45 minutes after the first riders (and almost 10 minutes after the people i'd been riding with before my cramps set it).

there was a pretty good spread set out by smbc at the end of the trail, so i refilled my camelbak and waterbottle, split a beer with matt, and ate as much salty food as i could. as we started out on the 25 mile road ride back to the cars my legs felt ok, and as the ride went along then continued to feel better. the group stayed together for most of the ride, since, with the exception of the sprints, this was a parade section. when the start of the sprint zone was announced my legs felt pretty good and i went to the front to see if i could manage the pace they were setting. surprisingly enough i could, so i tried to stay in position for the sprint. as we approached the "reduce speed ahead" sign that marked 100-meters to the deerfield town line the attacks were coming fast and frequently. i was a little too far back and closed in a bit, but i managed to get outside and gave it everything i had. as we closed in on the line i was closing on the leaders, but i couldn't quite make it up there. i was probably in the top ten, maybe 6th or 7th, but not top 5.

a stayed at the front for a bit, but the pace was pretty slow as we rolled through deerfield and towards augusta. eventually the effort of the sprint started to show in my legs and the twitches of cramps started up again in my legs, as we neared the start of the 2nd sprint zone i let myself drift back through the pack, content to just spin my way back to Braley's Pond completely wiped out.

smbc put on a really fun event and organized a great spagetti dinner afterwards at someone's house in Harrisonburg. i was only able to ride this one stage, but the tour de 'burg continues on through wednesday...


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