Yesterday, I decided on a whim to do a circut of the Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon loop. I called up Bjoern and he was down for it so we drove out to Middlebury and let the fun begin. Now for anyone who's done this loop with me (Cough Angry Runner! Cough) they know the first 2 to 4 miles are mostly flat to down hill, with a lovely little "S" curve at the 3 mile mark. At the 4 mile mark things start to go up hill, at the 5 mile mark it goes up hill in a hurry, at the 6 mile mark your quads and calves are burning almost saying no mas...the 7 mile mark things start to flatten out. 8 miles, and wonderful little down hill section with a couple of small climbs thrown in for fun. At the nine mile mark you hit the infamous last hill with the smiley face, by this point you want to shoot the race director, especially during the Olympic race, which I once called " CT's Alpe Du Huez", because it is a long gradual climb followed up by a nice 35 mph ( 50k +) descent, followed a sharp right hander and a little bump on route 64 then a nice down hill back toward Quassy Amusement Park ( which on Race day is the Transition area.) Now that I have established the setting for this epic, I will now do a brief profile on Bjoern. Bjoern is the founder of CCSU's tri club, a former soccer player, and Germany's greatest export...next to the Porsche 911...also I don't know if it's in the water in Germany or something but it seems like the country produces great cyclists, Normann Stadler, Faris Al Sultan, Jan Ulrich, Andreas Kloden...Bjoern is no exception the guy man handled me on our 3 looper.
On the first loop things started out pretty well I lead through the first downhill section, he would hammer past when the road flattened out a little bit, We rode together until the "S" Curve he took it at full speed, I slowed a little bit and did the whole " Apex the corner", thing similar to him but a tad bit slower ( and no I was not at my usual Granny-esque pace on this ride...well ok I was on the 3rd loop because some Bimbo in a Mercedes was driving through and had right of way, stupid yield sign...) Anyway when we got to the climbs something that never happens to me happended, I got smoked...I don't mean like he was a few bike lengths ahead... I mean like he did the Lance Armstrong look kicked it into overdrive and surged pulling a good 200-300 meters ahead. When I finally caught up to him, we were going up another series of hills, again he surged and again I got dropped... I caught back up to him on the flat section and we tackled the "last hill" toghether when we got to the top he looked over to me " You're climbing into big a gear." He said as he looked at me rear cog. Now I agree with him on that , there are 3 other reasons I think he beat me on most of the climbs, the first I think his chain ring is a 12-25 rear cog, because we both went up one of the tougher climbs in the biggest cog on the back and he acclerated away, and I know for a fact that I have a 12-23 on the stomper, the second he rides a road bike, shallow seat angle = better climbing, the third and I'm not gong to lie, he's better conditioned, he rides at least 5 days a week, and has been doing long rides for the last 2 months, so for me picking up after a 3 week hiatus I shouldn't really be surprised that he can ride circles around me, granted even when we're both at our peaks he's better on the bike. The sceond loop was a little more painful than the first... I lead on the descents and for the second or third time in my life I was really loving the descents, not having to pedal hard and going 30-40 mph I was loving it. the climbs was more of Bjoern pulling ahead...at the top of the last climb he shouted " Where's my polka dot jersey and 300 Euro bonus!" I quickly chipped in "I want my 40k individual time trial, and my flat sprinting stages." Complete role reversal of last year's mother of all bricks, where I was the climbing god. As we approached the the parking lot I wanted nothing more than to collaspe, my lower back was spasming, my calves were burning, my hams and quads felt cooked...." One more loop he asked?" "damn." I muttered to myself I went along with it telling him I'd probably be falling back. Once again I lead on the descent, when we got to the S curve he took it at full speed and manged to beat the afformentioned bimbo powered Mercedes. The climbs wnet as they did before although I held closer to Bjoern on the big one. On the last hill he said to me " let's hold 20 on this one" "20?" I said my eyes opening wide..." 20k" (13 mph) oh ok I could try for 20k I held on to his back wheel until a few feet from the summit, then I cracked and slowed to about 10mph he got back to the car about a minute ahead. All in all it was a good weekend, I got some desperately needed saddle time as well as a gauge on how much I need to improve. We hit the pool afterward, I got in about 3100 yards he did about 2700, he'll be set for Switzerland in June, I'm just hoping to get my butt ready to haul at Eagleman...granted there is no climbing at Eagleman...although if Bjoern shows up for the griskus sprint, my chances of a podium might once again be in doubt.