Jacob Mueller in the 2013 Green Mountain Stage Race, Stage 4 Burlington Criterium
What a ride! What a place! Vermont and the Green Mountain Stage Race lived up to its reputation yet again. I've done this race 3 times and I'm always amazed at Vermont's sheer beauty. 4 days of racing, gallons of coffee and maple syrup on every imaginable food item, and I now find myself sitting in the greater Philadelphia area, plucking away on this computer. I'm sticking around the area this week to prep for this weekends UCI Bucks County Classic. I'm back into living the life of racing 2 wheels. Travel separated by racing. Legs are tired. Stomach is groaning. I'm eating everything I see. Hamstring is holding up. I'm happy.
I got exactly what I needed out of The Green Mountain Stage Race; confidence. It's been a long road coming back from my injury, but jumping headfirst back into a pro race was what I needed. My results were nothing to write home about, but building confidence sure was.
Friday's time trial was a good dose of reality. Nothing major to report on except that it was a good dose of quick pain. Roughly 14 minutes with a chunk of climbing brought me in at 29th place. I'll take it. Not great, not horrible. Perspective.
Saturday's 70+ mile circuit race was filled with obstacles, heavy rain and low visibility. We hit a 2 mile climb on each of the 4 laps. Staying near the front and hoping to jump in a break would be my goal for the day. I certainly stayed up there, but an untimely mechanical would send me off the back just 2k out from the intermediate sprint point. Quick adjustment and I was chasing for dear life to catch back on. After a stiff effort, I found myself sitting in the field the rest of the race and finished with the sprint finish for 25th place. Not great, not horrible. Perspective.
Sunday was the queen of all queens. 100+ mile road race including a mountain top finish up Appalachian Gap (20% in spots). I'm a climber, right? Wrong. Maybe in Door County, but certainly not in VT. My coach, Blair Berbert, put a carrot out for me, "Get in the early break and I'll buy you a liter of Switchback Beer". Boom!…the Switchback is now sitting in the refrigerator. Goal accomplished. I got in the early move of 10 riders 10-15miles into the race. We stayed away until App Gap when we got caught. I did everything in my power to hold on to the group, but fell off as we ascended the monster. I settled into my pain and started fighting my demons: "Quit, no one cares", "Why do I do this?", "No more racing after this", "You're really not that strong of a rider", "Why did you think you could climb this beast?", "GO HOME!!" This is the point I've talked about over and over in other blog entries. No one is around anymore, the race is up the road and there you are….alone and tired. So easy to quit. This is the moment that starts to represent how you deal with life issues. Fight on or give up. Your choice. You live with your decisions. I took a big gamble by getting in the early break in hopes to stay away and move up in the overall standings. It didn't pay off this time but I fought and finished 49th. Not great, not horrible. Perspective.
Monday criterium's was a fast, technical 6 corner course in downtown Burlington, VT. Being that I had not raced a criterium since my May injury, it was my goal to race aggressive and build confidence back up. As with most crits, the first 10 laps were brutal. Hamstring hurt, couldn't breath, couldn't get into a groove, horrible positionening and there I was again, facing that moment I just described above. I'm done. I quit. No. Fight on Jacob! I did just that, rode aggressive, got up in and off the front and finished with the sprint for 21st place. More importantly, I walked away with confidence. Not great, not horrible. Perspective.
This week is all about recovery as I look forward to a full squad of Stan's No Tubies coming in to race with me at Bucks County Classic in the greater Philadelphia area. Saturday is an epic 100+ road race with 8500ft of climbing and Sunday is a white knuckle criterium. I got this.
Thanks for reading.