Euro Beat w/ Spencer

Finding Truth at the Tour du Jura
So, in last week’s post I focussed on learning from the little mistakes I was making with the goal of remaining optimistic and progressing in mind. I did not address, however, something larger holding me back, and it was visible in plain sight. I have been feeling as if I am trying to catch up on my recovery without being successful. As I have continued through training, I have found it harder and harder to do the same volume. This weekend, I finally recognized that I have been overtraining/under-recovered for some time.

Thursday began with rain once again, making it difficult to want to get out on the bike for a slow-paced recovery ride. The rain turned into a light drizzle and I decided to head out for a brief turn of the pedals around town. I didn’t stay out too long as it was cold and wet and I had felt like my past sickness was maybe returning.

Friday morning I woke up and got everything prepared as that night I would be racing. I met the team at 2 pm and we drove off to Voiteur for the first stage of the Tour du Jura, a 5-6 km uphill night prologue. It stopped raining in time for the team presentation, but substantial flooding was occurring and the river running through Voiteur was very close to overflowing. I began warming up and while a little rushed, made to the start, where they mounted two small LED lights on the bike. As I made my way up the mountain to Chateau-Chalon, I crossed streams flowing across the road, briefly distracting me from the pain of the race.

As I approached half-way I began to feel stomach acid burning my throat every time I pushed harder. This forced me out of the big chain ring which the team wished me to ride in, and I therefore rode slowly on the most important part of the climb. I crossed the line in pain as I should have been, but without having felt as if I made a huge effort. I was unable to push as hard as normal, but I attributed this to the stomach acid and just reminded myself to take an antacid before I race. I was 85th on the stage.

After a rather small amount of sleep, I awoke Saturday morning prepared to face the large amount of climbing ahead of me in the second stage. We rode to the start at Aire du Jura, a tourist attraction, and were soon lining up. I had changed wheels to race on my Mavic Kysriums, which were lighter than the team’s Aksiums. Being pressed for time once again, I neglected to check that the gears were aligned the same. Within the first kilometre I had problems with ghost-shifting in all but the hardest gears. So I rode with a slow cadence as we approached the start of the climbs. On the first GPM, the road kicks up well over 10 percent and the pack seemingly fell apart. I felt strong enough to stay at the front, but the gear I was in was much too hard for the grade and when I shifted down, my gears were ghost-shifting all over. I made it to the top with a group off the back and was within reach of another chase group. They were within sight and we put in a large initial effort to join them. As the race turned once again to the climbs, we lost sight of them. Much of this was due to the lack of cohesion in my group with the chase being sporadic and poorly organised. Late in the stage as we climbed into the snow and mist near Switzerland, I found myself too strong for the group I was in. I crossed the line at the front of the group, determined to be much higher up in the next stage. It turns out my teammate Nicolas Bourdillat won the stage with Emilien Broe 4th and both in a small breakaway group. This put Emilien in the best young rider jersey and gave Nicolas the most aggressive rider jersey for his attacking. I was now in 91st and thirteen minutes back from the leader.

The third stage on Saturday afternoon was supposed to be relatively easy as it was mostly descending down from the Alps at the border with Switzerland. For the entire neutral start I rode right at the front, drafting the press motorbike. As the ‘depart reel’ got underway, I was at the front and feeling alright. I looked to Nicolas, a few kilometres later, whom I wished to help improve his good position and he said “allez Spencer”, sending me up the road to take pressure off himself in the chase. The timing was poor and I should not have listened to him as Emilien had just attacked and as I tried to open my gap over 15 seconds, we turned onto the only GPM of the afternoon. I soon was back in the pack and sliding back. I pushed hard to stay with them, but all of a sudden I just blew up. This wasn’t a normal cracking like I have experienced before. This time I had nothing to push with. I couldn’t hold onto people I should have been able to drop and quickly fell out of the caravan with only the broom-wagon behind me. I tried to push myself harder, but could not push myself. I took risks on the potentially icy roads descending from the GPM and passed another rider, giving me motivation to work harder. Still, with this motivation, I could not get my legs moving faster. Later in the stage after overtaking another rider and being overtaken by the previous motivator, I found myself at a level where I could not push past a soft-pedal or raise my heart rate above 145, which is very low for me. At approximately 15 km from the finish, I was caught by the last rider and the broom-wagon. I pulled over and stepped off the bike, getting into the sweep vehicle, inadvertently coercing the other rider to do the same. My team held the best young rider jersey, the team classification and Nicolas was second on the stage.

Sunday morning I woke up with ease and tried to relax while everyone prepared to race. In Arbois, we ate our lunch and before the start, headed off with our mechanic to give our riders feeds later on the course. It was interesting to follow the race by trying to show up at each successive position before the riders, but it was not my preferred way of attending a race. That night we lost all of over classifications when a breakaway got away containing none of our riders.

This week has been rather relaxing, with me off the bike to recover from overtraining. I have been able to do many things I wanted to get done as well as spend time doing different activity. Today, for instance, I went for a long walk to the park in the center of Le Creusot, which with 20 degree weather and the season, was quite beautiful. I am not hiding anything from myself anymore. I have recognised that I am under-recovered and understand the reasons it has occurred. I will have to come back slowly, but I can come back to form and be much stronger than before.

Spencer

Photo credits: Grégory Oudot

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One Response to “Euro Beat w/ Spencer”

  1. Thanks you for the article about tour du JURA. see you again on this race

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