Exploring All the Podium Steps

By: Ellen Watters

Step one is higher than step two which is higher than step 3. Make sense?

If you ever get the chance to take a drive to Vermont, I highly, HIGHLY, recommend visiting the Green Mountain region. I don’t think it matters the season. The summertime is beautiful and lush and green, the trees would be stunning during their colourful changes in the fall and the winter… you’ve got ski mountains galore! Killington, specifically, still had one trail open that had countless skiers and snowboards using. It’s neat to see the costumes that walk up to the lift. Shorts, skorts, t-shirts, leg warmers, it’s almost like the 80’s tight-and-bright theme is splashed over white snow!

Killington Mountain in the background
Killington Mountain in the background

Step 3 – First stage of Killington Stage Race. It was a quiet, tame day in the saddle. Being at a stage race solo means you have to conserve your energy and use it wisely. When your team has numbers, you have the gun-power to send someone on the attack. The frost-warning issued the night before rang true and gave us ladies a chilly 8:55am start. Arms shaking, all you can do is pedal and wait for the heat to be sent to your appendages.

The neat thing about stage races are the KOM/QOM (King/Queen of the Mountain) and Sprint points. The circuit didn’t have much of a “hill” per-say, but there were three chances to be in the top 5 over the line. Basically, the person with the most points at the end of the day gets to wear a jersey. White with red spots for QOM and green with a target on the back for the sprints. I went for the final climb and snagged the most points on that lap.

Finishing stage one. Bike throw anyone?
Finishing stage one. Bike throw anyone?

The finish was at the end of a long, sloping downhill run in. So many things can happen, and you pray that none of them do, on a finish like this. The speed is so high and people are moving up for position, with lead-outs, or just single riders pushing for a strong finish. You never want to see someone go down in front of you ever, let alone at 50km/h. I stayed on a wheel and literally just drafted along behind to finish third on the stage. This finish gave me a time bonus. In the end, this was definitely a saving-grace.

Step 2 – As you look at the below photo, you will see what the course looked like for us ladies on the second day of racing. It’s a summit finish and often times referred to as the queen stage.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.35.57 PM

I like how colourful it is!

It was a quiet race up to the sprint points and then at least half the group got dropped on our first QOM climb (around 29 miles in). From there we echeloned ourselves in an unorganized manner as a rider went off on her own and got a gap. I was so happy with how I was eating and drinking during the race. It makes all the difference. You might bonk because you didn’t eat enough or your muscles cramp up because you didn’t drink enough.

For the climb I had wheels I wanted to follow and it worked well for me. Sometimes it’s the extra motivation you need or sometimes it’s the draft. Finally at the top, I finished second. You know how you see riders or runners collapse or keel over? That was me. I finished and then set my bike down and laid on the pavement.

But guess what they had at the finish?! MILK AND COOKIES! Yup, that’s right, COOKIES! Humungous chocolate chip cookies and cold chocolate milk! #sogood

Step 1 – Suffer for as long as you can in a relatively uncomfortable position. Time trial day. I’m not going to bore you with much about this stage. I think there were two moments when it didn’t feel like I was going up some sort of incline over 17km. A hard way to finish a race, not knowing who was first until all times have been tabulated. My team coach, Jenny, was the one who notified me that I had won the stage and the overall with a 2-second lead. A good moment!!

Like on the Oscars, I am going to thank a few folks who are epic. Jean-Guy Cormier (my coach), Jenny and Chris (my team coaches), The Cyclery (thank you Vince) and Opus as well as all the other sponsors (Smith Optics, Giro, Look, Biemme, Xact Nutrition, Westboro Chiropractor, Killens Reid Physio, Volvo Ottawa, Continental Tires).

Thank you Mum for supporting me with words of encouragement and wisdom!


Eat, sleep and pedal, pedal PEDAL!


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