After months of training; which included climbing intervals on fat bikes up to Stratton and Poplar Huts in 7 degree weather and snow storms; to boring 2 hour sweat sessions on the trainer; to gritting through the Men’s Tuesday Night Ride; to Dawn Patrol 5 am departure rides; to driving the Scarborough Crit Series; to doing the SMR with no finishing coffee but adding 3 extra hours of hard riding and climbing training, Kathy Ventura, Teresa Swinbourne, and Kate Lynch of the PVC p/b Chiropractic & Sports Health Ladies Race Team headed out to their first race this past weekend – The Killington Stage Race.
KSR is a 3 day stage race made up of a 37 mile circuit race (with 2000 feet of climbing) Day 1, a 60 mile/5000 foot vertical gain road race Day 2, and an 11 mile slight uphill Time Trial Day 3. After thorough analysis of Training Peaks data, the plan from their Coach, Troy Barry, was to get Teresa (who had been taking some Scarborough Crit Sprints and has high power output and a big kick) to the line for the sprint Day 1. Day 2 – the plan was to keep Kathy Ventura, (who has shown recent climbing finesse holding onto her coach’s wheel getting paced on Opportunity Hill repeats), to stay with the lead group, attack at mile 38.5 if possible, and let her show her stuff on the last 5 mile 3000 foot climb straight back up a 12% grade to the ski area. Day 3 – Kate Lynch (who has shown strength out alone in the wind – winning the final Scarborough Crit on a 5 lap breakaway) was to go for the TT.
Day 1 was at hot one at 89 degrees – a shock to all Maine riders who had just shed their leg warmers. The ladies prepared by pre-dosing with Hammer products, Endurolytes, Endurance Aminos, and Anti-Fatigue caps to fend off the inevitable electrolyte deficiencies. The field was twitchy and the first quarter of the race, there was more braking than pedaling. In retrospect, Teresa commented, “…Absolutely mind-bending. I was never sure what was going to happen out there. It certainly lacked the familiarity of wheels of folks- like John Futak – on Dawn Patrol…”The girls stayed patient. It would have been easy to attack and maybe stay away early on, but how would that leave them for the remaining 2 days of hard racing? (….Maybe next year….) Just prior to the first climb, there was an attack. Kate and Teresa were perfectly positioned riding in 4th and 5th position. They stood up and took their heart rates to 180 bpm and reeled it back in within about 4 minutes and pulled the whole field with them. The climb started and had a QOM at the top. The ladies worked to get Kathy to the front with 3 km to go before the QOM. She took the lead climbing and started to pedal away with Kate blocking the field, she got a 20 foot gap before the field realized what was happening and the leaders jumped to catch her. Kathy powered down and took it to the line with 4 super fast climbers. A few feet before the line, the rider in front of Kathy turned her head and her bike and took Kathy to the dirt. She nearly missed a crash and had to fight her way back into the field. Almost. They sat in – with watchful waiting – knowing the technical downhill sprint finish was coming. With 5 km to go, the ladies after sticking tight together for the day, were a bit spread out in the field. Teresa made her way to the front and, inadvertently, took the lead of the race, which was not going to get her into the final sprint. Kathy and Kate saw what was happening and jumped, working their way quickly to the front of the pack to come to her aid. They took turns pulling on the front on a 40 mph descent with the finish line coming fast. A team of young guns from B2C2 came from the right and took the lead. The PVC ladies train was swallowed up a bit. Kate went to the left, hoping Teresa would follow – but there was no time to talk. Kathy found a hole on the right and blazed to it. Teresa came around her and charged to the line at 40 mph, sprinting in her hardest gear, with just 1 other B2C2 racer – totally hectic, all hell breaking loose. They locked bars. Teresa says all she could envision was her 3 children – in a millisecond, she kept her bike upright, unlocked bars, and took 6th at the line. Kathy was 7th. Kate took 13th. (On Day 1 – all riders get the same time for the sprint finishing group but still get a GC standing).
Day 2 promised cloud cover and better temperatures. The race started with a 2 mile 5% grade climb – nothing to laugh at. The race then took a right hand turn at the top of the climb and had a 20 mile decent. There was a big crash in the middle of the descent – luckily the local ladies steered clear. There was ripped skin and mashed bikes, however, all involved riders were ok. All of the action occurred at mile 24.5 with a 12% half mile grind up. The group attacked at a blistering pace. Teresa sat at about 10th position and held it strong – never giving up the wheel in front of her – as the race continued uphill for the next 3 miles. Kathy had been in the front few riders and in the first mile of climbing dropped her chain. Kate climbed past her on a high speed chase group led by Green Line Velo. She realized what was happening and called to Kathy, while dangling half way between the chase group and her teammate. Kathy yelled that her chain was on and she was on her bike bridging. Kate bided her time and when she saw Kathy had her wheel, she climbed out of the saddle and bridged to the chase group again. She handed the Green Line Velo wheel to Kathy saying ‘this is the wheel’. Kathy grabbed it and didn’t look back. After 3 miles of uphill chasing, she and Natasja Brooijmans from Green Line Velo reeled in the main group – absolutely amazing. The main group stayed together, chasing down a 6 lady breakaway with Kathy and Teresa driving the chase. They caught 4 of the leaders and charged to the final looming 5 mile climb back to the resort. Kate had lost contact after getting Kathy on and chased in a group of 5 ladies for 30 miles. When all riders got to Bear Mountain Road, it was every woman for herself. The climb was absolutely grueling. The ladies called on all of their training and lots of positive self-talk and made it up. Kathy finished 13th, Teresa 24th, and Kate 32nd.
Day 3 – Almost over!! The Time Trial! It had poured torrential rain the night before and all riders were nervous about the weather. The rain ceased and it was 70 degrees with low lying fog – perfect conditions for your first Time Trial. Kate was the first team rider to go. She was not able to clip into her pedals in the start house, due to the angle of the bike holder and certainly some nerves….. She left the start house unclipped. She took a few seconds and clipped in and started her race. She reeled in her first 30 second girl, then her second, then her third. None of the PVC ladies have specialized TT equipment and most of the riders did – a distinct disadvantage but never to be spoken as an excuse for the team. Kate focused on keeping her head down, keeping her forearms resting on the bars, and keeping her wattage within her zone. (Troy had told them all their heartrate and power targets for the 11 mile effort.) With 3 km to go – all power and heart rate targets went out the window and she stood for the last two little rises and rode with defiance to the line. The final results had her clustered in a group of riders just 6 seconds out of 7th place – with an 11th place finish. Teresa stuck close to her power target and came through – not remembering much of the ride. She had a smile on her face though – saying ‘I loved that. And Troy is an amazing coach. My numbers were right on. That felt great!’. She finished 22nd. Kathy was the last team rider though the finish – see photo. She also stuck to her target numbers and left everything she had out there for a 21st place finish.
Final GC (46 total riders): Kathy Ventura 14th, Teresa Swinbourne 24, Kate Lynch 31. A huge effort and an amazing race.
“I could not ask for a better team, or a better coach. We are proud to be from Portland, ME, proud to be 40 plus year olds with kids – all just out of retirement, psyched to have had the opportunity to go to KSR, and psyched to come home – safe and sound – to our families”. (Teresa)
Thanks to Hammer Nutrition.
Additionally, Hank Pfeifle (Downeast Racing), Dan Ventura (Kathy’s husband), and Matt Robinson (Downeast Racing) for giving us a feed on Day 2 during the climb. It was great to see you guys! Thanks to our teammates, Cody Harris and Sarah Margolskee, who continued to check in. Thanks to our great friend Pete. Thanks to all the PVC and Dawn Patrol folks who showed their support. Thanks Jane Moneghan for all of the great texts and for the finishing beer! A special thanks to our coach, Troy Barry, who volunteers countless hours a week to help us out – we have made some amazing gains. We are looking forward to the Nutmeg Crit in 2 weekends – (a crit now seems short!)
Thanks to PVC and all of our sponsors for your support – we appreciate it.
Kate, Kath,. & Teresa