Stage 3 and 4 are the over the hump stages. There are moments where you think, “Really? I have to do this for 3 more days?” You betcha…and what else would I rather be doing? For the most part, not a whole lot!!
Warming up this morning(after copious amounts of coffee), I thought my legs would give me trouble. I couldn’t do any efforts so I decided to start slow. Fortunately, I started slower and steady, and picked up the pace with the increase in mileage. (Photo by Bill Hade) My legs even felt strong despite my warm up thoughts. One thing is certain, I’m not struggling in the mornings like I was last year. I recall having nausea, bathroom problems, trouble eating, and thick mucus issues last year. Improvement!
My plan was to start drilling it on the hike-a-bike up to French Pass, and that I did. I was even running at the top – thank you CTR training. I put my head down and charged the climb up to Georgia Pass and after the climb and descent, had opened at least a 10 minute gap on 2nd place.
Photo from Devon Balet
The American Gulch climb went well. I ended up riding with Jordan Carr for a part of the climb and he mentioned how he had flatted and wished he had had my tires. Moments later on the descent, disaster struck an almost perfect execution of the day (well… other than a grumpy drive train stopping me in my tire tracks on multiple occasions to get off the bike and get the chain back where it needed to be). Raging down what should have been a quick descent (and a few rollers) to a Stage 3 victory, the air gushed out of my tire. In disbelief, I looked down. Flat rear tire. I stopped and used my Big Air to fill the tire. I saw a small slit in the sidewall and hoped the Stans would hold it and jumped back on to keep going. My tire was flat again. This time, I took my wheel off my bike and used the rest of my big air and shook the tire horizontally. The hole sealed. YES! I still did not see 2nd place. I put the wheel back in and hopped back on the descent. Within 20 seconds, my tire was flat. I was frustrated and admittedly rode the rim for another 10 seconds.
Time was ticking by. I got off my bike and took the wheel out again and removed the tire and rim strip (which I had to shove in the top of my bib shorts b/c my pockets were full!). I was out of CO2, so I went for the pump I had been carrying. It didn’t work. Miles and Jen came by and threw me a CO2. My adapter failed and all the air rushed out of the CO2. A guy without a number plate was coming down the hill so I flagged him down and he and I tried to get his pump to work for a few minutes. It failed. Selene blew by taking the lead. The time cutting in my GC started ticking. Tick tock. Another racer came by and threw me his pump(thanks!) but we couldn’t get that one to work either. 3 failed pumps. A minute or so later, another guy came by and threw me his Big Air and adapter. It worked. I filled the tire so it was very firm. I was back in business. All in all, I had spent 20 minutes messing around with my tire. A tremendous disappointment.
I rode the rest of the race (the last 10 miles or so). My legs had shut down from standing for so long. I had to ride the descents much slower than I normally would because I was afraid of flatting again. I managed to stay positive – at least I was moving again!
Entering the last 2 miles of singletrack, I threw caution into the wind and time trailed to the finish. In the end, I had lost 9 minutes in the GC and about 20 minutes in the stage taking 2nd place.
I was not alone in my flat trauma today. At least 10 people I know had issues. I was bummed, but that’s part of racing. It happens to everyone at some point. I’ve been very lucky and can count the number of flats I’ve had in races in my hands over the last 8 years. I’m hoping not to repeat this incidence in the last 3 days, but I’m armed and ready. I bought a new pump, am carrying 2 CO2 adapters, and carrying 1 Big Air and 2 16 gram CO2s. Overkill? Yes. If I had that stuff with me today, the flats would have been less costly. Again, that’s racing!!
Overall podium today. I am currently in the lead by 27 minutes. Good, but not comfortable.
Here are the women’s results:
Yuki, Jorge, and Jeff kicking ass in the 3 day race.
Tomorrow: Keystone Stage. I blew sky high last year. Fireworks could be seen from Denver. I’m hoping to have luck on my side and ride smart tomorrow. Day 4!!!!