Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Mavic Haute Route Rockies 2018: Stage 4 Avon Mountain Star Time Trial

Please consider a small donation to Team Type 1, the official charity partner for the Haute Route by visiting my fundraising page, no amount is too small.

Stage 4 Avon Mountain Star Time Trial

9.6 miles
1,898 feet of climbing
High point: 8546 feet

Stage Results

General Classification (GC):  18th (+51:56)
Age Group 45-54 (AG):          4th   (+30:05)

As nights went I had a good one only waking a half a dozen times in the night and using the time to drink water and stay hydrated.  Not having to get up at 4 am was certainly a bonus.  I had time for a good breakfast.  After breakfast I thought I would get a jump on the day by taking my bike to the Mavic service van.  It turned out that the start line was further from the hotel than I had anticipated,  but having already started I decided to continue even though I was not in my cycling clothes.

Sitting on the saddle, well simply sucked.  Every revolution of my legs resulted in a stabbing pain that I had to ignore.  When I got to the start line the Mavic team was just arriving.  I explained my discovery after the work they did yesterday and they asked me come back a half hour before my start time to look at it.  So much for getting it resolved early.  At least I knew where to go.

Back at the hotel I applied lots of cream to my saddle sore and got ready.  I wanted to give the Mavic team additional time to look at my wheel as my intuition was telling me it was not going to be a quick fix.  I arrived an hour early and handed over my bike.  After initial troubleshooting I was offered a spare wheel so that I could continue to warm up whilst they worked.

45 minutes later I checked in and the news was not good. Sometimes it sucks when your intuition is right.  The lead mechanic told me he had replaced everything that could be replaced and the problem still persisted.  I was told that the behavior was better but that the wheel needed to be returned under warranty.  They could lend me a spare wheel but it would not be tubeless.  I was surprised and mentioned that I thought they had the new wheels for testing.  They did but it was just my luck that they only had disc brake versions.  I really did not want to switch to tubes so I opt'ed to trust the improvement and modify my riding to accommodate the problem.  Thankfully the work that was done reduced the effect considerably and I was able to use the wheel for the remaining stages without the chain being thrown.  I was impressed by the support and the effort to resolve the problem, and it was backed up with contact details for the North American Mavic GM and assurance I would be taken care of.

With my wheel back on my bike it was fast approaching my start time and before I knew it I was up.  This was my second time ever on a TT ramp and it really was a cool feeling being held ready to go.  Up until I got on the ramp the riders were being sent out 15 seconds apart so I got ready expecting to go quickly when the marshal said "2 minutes to go".  I had a double take moment followed by a "What".  I had to reset myself as they decided to wait 2 minutes before sending out the last wave.  Great I thought, there goes my carrot to chase.   2 minutes later the starter said "Are you ready?", I nodded, I was counted down and with a solid push and I was off.  Time Trials get real quickly and with the adrenaline pumping I replayed my conversation with Jim (my coach).  Stick to the plan and tempo the climbs, I still had the biggest days of riding ahead.  
The start was a long slightly uphill straight.  It took time to adjust to the pain but I soon established a tempo,  putting the pain out of my mind allowing it to become part of the motion.  Left at the roundabout to shouts of encouragement from the police monitoring the coned off course and traffic.  Short climb, quick descent and onto the first major climb.   With riders leaving 15 seconds after me It was no surprise to be caught on the climb.  I had to put my ego aside and stick to the plan. I told myself "ride a hard tempo but do not bury yourself".   Over the top of the first climb and into a long fast descent.  I crested just behind Matt Busche and held pace out of his draft as we dropped into the last climb.  Matt powered away from me at the start of the climb as I settled back into my tempo.

Half way up the climb I started to increase power, lifting the pace to finish strong and limit any loses. I crossed the line tired but not empty, finishing the day in 30th place with a time of 43:13.20 which was 10:41 down on the leader.  I dropped 1 GC  place and defended my age group position of 4th.  When I reviewed my results I found that I lost 5:43 to Colby Pearce the former US hour record holder and leader of our age group.  Overall I was happy with my performance and my ability to stick to the plan.  Later I would learn that Matt Busche caught Phil Southerland who was minutes ahead of him but just before the line,  Phil always the showman hit the line with his arms in the air just ahead of Matt.  Phil tweeted the picture in good humor and it just goes to show pictures don't always tell the whole story.
I rode back to the hotel with the TT1 Team and then took advantage of the day by heading to the hotel, getting an early massage and falling asleep for the rest of the afternoon.  I know exciting stuff, but I really needed the rest and recovery.  After the rider briefing I was really grateful that the team had dinner plans at the Mexican restaurant in the hotel.  It was great to know that the restaurant could cater for my diet and that it was a really short trip back to my room for, you got it, an early night ready for another hard day in the saddle. 

Afterword:   Looking back on the day there where certainly highs and lows.  I was impressed by the help Mavic provided.  I received support from the lead mechanic and he left no stone un-turned in trying to resolve the issue.  When it was clear it was a warranty issue, he contacted his management and provided me with a contact to get the issue resolved once I got home.  It was great service and I am glad I received it.  Without the help I suspect diagnosing the problem via the bike shop and Mavic would have been difficult and very time consuming.

The TT from the ramp to the finish was a professional rider experience and one I really enjoyed.  There seemed to be Haute Route photographers everywhere but disappointingly that did not translate into pictures.  Surly it would not have taken much effort for every rider to be photographed both on and leaving the ramp and the finish but sadly that was not the case.  

Lastly I feel the need to comment on the prizes which for the most part were being swept up by the professional or ex professional riders.  I can't help feel that there should be an elite and non elite GC ranking where the pro's and ex-pros could compete against their peers whilst giving amateurs the ability to compete independently but still compare there times to the elite riders.  At the end of the day it is the amateur riders that fund the Haute Route and I was starting to feel that more could be done to recognize them.

Keep It Rubber Side Down and MaxLifeOut ...

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