Arkansas – Fayetteville – Happy Hollow Road.
We, The Cyclery – Opus, met again for a stage race. The Joe Martin Stage Race. This consisted of 4 stages: hill climb time trial, two road races, and a criterium. This was my first UCI (this is the acronym for an international race) stage race. There was definite stress and nervousness heading into it.
Uphill TT – 4.3km
Devil’s Den State Park (definitely a place I’d like to explore more), was the location of our first stage. We did a recon the day before. Time trial’s are interesting beasts because it’s a test of one person’s mental and physical strength without any other riders to help. Warming up is so important for this. Getting the muscles prepped. I’ve been told that the shorter the TT, the longer the warm-up should be. I like them. I like that it’s just you and your bike and the road. No one else to break the wind in front of you, no one to spur you on.
Tara had a really great ride, placing 4th overall. Ariane also killed the climb with a fantastic ride.
Road race – Point to point – 97.2km
The day was intermittently touched with rain showers, giving the road some slick conditions now and then. One thing about racing a bike that I have learned is that it is a really nice thing to have some medical tape. Why? Well, you can write on the medical tape with a sharpie the kilometre mark when a climb starts, where the feed zone is, or maybe when you might hit some rumble strips.
Tara was able to stay with the lead group as both Carrie and I were in the split. It happened on a 15km hill climb. The ride then became lots of echeloning. Not a bad thing as it’s a chance to practice this in a larger group. Funny enough, I’ve learned that I need to know the Spanish words for “pull through”. Overall it was a hard race, but a good one.
Road race #2 – Circuit race – 101.6km
Jenny warned us that after neutral there would be a wall to climb. She was right. It was there and it was hard. We rode around circuit of about 37km twice. It was a much nicer day with sun shining. The first climb was hard, and the second time around didn’t make it any easier. A break went up the road, with Tara involved, but was caught by the chase group. The day ended with a bunch sprint, meaning that those in the bunch all finished with the same time.
Criterium – 2km laps for 50 minutes
A criterium, or crit for short, is the most fun to watch. The course profile looked like this:
You’re probably thinking, that doesn’t look that bad. Remember that it’s a short course so everything is shorter which means steeper generally. Right away, a split happened with attacks going off the front. This makes for a fast race. Positioning is something that I have to work on, because if you’re at the back of the pack and a split happens or a break, I can’t be a factor in that. Tara was in the front group, I was in the chase group. Overall, a fun, 8-corner crit with fast descending, few crashes and a challenging uphill finish.
Below you’ll see a little photo montage of the trip. I had a fun time, learned a lot and can now check Arkansas off my list of States to visit. It certainly is “The Natural State”.
Opus Bikes, without you, climbing, descending, sprinting and cornering would not have been as easy or comfortable. Thank you Giro for protecting my teammates head, keeping our feet comfy and hands warm. Thank you Smith Optics: our eyes were very happy sheltered from wind, rain, dirt and sun. Definitely looked fast and pretty in Biemme. Also nice to stay clipped in with Look pedals.