Monday, July 28, 2014

Everesting: Monitor Pass (East)


Everesting was so fun the first time that I had to try it again. My original plan was to do a shorter, steeper segment so I could compare how that felt as opposed to a longer climb. I settled for Washington Street in Virginia City, which is 0.4 miles at 10%. I gave it a shot last week (Strava file), but I wasn't able to finish that ride. I found the short & steep option to be much more mentally challenging.

I had to get the taste of failure out of my mouth, so I headed out to Monitor Pass (East), which is 9.4 miles at 6%. I was able to finish (Strava file), but it wasn't easy.

I started at 4:30 AM and the wind was already blowing, but my legs were still fresh and I just kept telling myself that the wind would die down after the sun came up. I did the first climb in just over an hour. I got some great views of the sunrise, but none of my pictures really turned out.

Climbing in the dark
Monitor Pass Summit
After a cold descent I continued on with climb 2, where I was greeted by some fantastic alpenglow.

Alpenglow: Monitor Pass

Alpenglow from Monitor Pass
I did the 2nd climb in about 1:05, and then my times started to drop to about 1:15-1:20 between climbs 3-6. The wind died down on climbs 2-4 and started to pick up again around climb 5. Climb 5 is also the time when my legs started to feel dead.

The first half of the ride went pretty well. I wasn't having one of those good leg days (I actually had one of those on my failed Washington St. attempt), but I was steadily making progress. After the 5th climb my legs started feeling empty and I began to wonder if I was going to be able to finish the ride. The finish line seemed far, far away and 10 more hours of riding seemed impossible. This is exactly the feeling that made me quit last week. I was getting too far ahead of myself and needed to focus on the next climb and forget about everything else.

I was able to focus and completed climbs 6 and 7. After climb 7 the doubt began to creep in again. I really wasn't looking forward to riding the last 2 climbs in the dark, or more importantly the 2 cold descents to follow. I wanted to quit. It would have been easy to quit. I just couldn't quit 2 weeks in a row. I convinced myself to ride one more climb to see how I felt.

From climb 7 on, my pace dropped to around 1:25. My easiest gear was 34-30 and I wasn't afraid to use it. Physically, I didn't feel too bad. I was just slow. Climb 8 didn't feel much worse than climb 7, so I kept riding. The sun began to set as I was riding climb 9. The sunset seems like such a small and simple thing, but it really changed the scenery and gave my mind a welcome distraction.

It was dark on the 9th descent, but the sun hadn't been down for long and the temperature was still comfortable. At this point in the ride even descending was starting to hurt. I was going slow in the dark, so my hands were getting sore from all the braking. The pressure on my hands made my shoulders and neck start hurting. Usually the descent is the fun part, but not this time.

The final climb started out as a celebration. It's hard to celebrate for over an hour, though. At some point reality kicked in that I still had some climbing left to do. When I finally made it to the turnaround point there was more of a sense of exhaustion than anything else. I sat down on the road to put on my leg warmers and I didn't feel like getting back up. I sat there in the road for a while and it was so peaceful- no traffic, no noise, and no wind. I took a look up at the stars, which are so bright and clear at that elevation and with no city lights nearby. I thought to myself that I should be out there camping, just relaxing and enjoying a beautiful night. Instead, I was beating myself to a pulp for no good reason. Why the hell do we do this?

Around 11:00 PM I started my final descent. Thankfully, the temperature wasn't cold at all. It was nowhere near as cold as that first descent, at least. I took it super easy. Just imagine how terrible it would be to ride that far only to crash on the final descent.

I finished in just under 19 hours. I did Geiger in 18:30, and that ride was 31 miles longer. I spent about 30 minutes more off the bike this time. I had way too much off-bike time. That's something I will focus on if I ever attempt another Everesting ride. I would definitely say that Monitor was more difficult than Geiger. The climb is longer & steeper and there was more wind. The good news is that the traffic is lighter and the scenery is better.

Do I plan on Everesting again? Yes, but not this year. I want to focus on some different goals for a while, but I definitely want to finish a ride on a shorter & steeper climb. When I'm out there riding I know Everesting will be in the back of my mind. I'll always be looking for that perfect climb to Everest.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Everesting: Geiger Grade in Reno, NV


I don't remember how I heard about Everesting. I may have seen it on CyclingTips or perhaps I stumbled upon a file on Strava. What I do remember is that I immediately fell in love and had to try it for myself. The basic idea is to ride 8,848 meters/29,029 feet (the height of Mt. Everest) of repeats on one climb. Half of the fun was deciding which climb to do.

Comparing Climbs

The first climb that came to mind was Geiger Grade, the first climb I rode on my first visit to Reno and the climb I do most often. It's 7.7 miles at 5%, and I would have to do 14 repeats for a total of 215 miles.

Mt. Rose (East) was my second thought. It's essentially Geiger Grade times two- 16.6 miles at 5%. It would take 7 repeats for a total of 232 miles. The bad news is that there's construction going on on Mt. Rose highway right now, so I ruled it out immediatly. I doubt I would have chosen Mt. Rose if not for the construction. I like the sound of only doing 7 repeats, but it can feel like a long climb even with fresh legs. I can't imagine what that 7th one would feel like. I felt like I could stay close to the 1-hour mark on Geiger Grade, even on the last few climbs.

On the short end of the spectrum, I considered Gold Hill, which is 1.8 miles at 9%. That translates to 34 repeats and 123 miles. 34 may sound high, but check out the Everesting HOF and you'll see that others have done much higher numbers than that. I liked the idea of only riding 123 miles, but I was afraid that I wouldn't have much time to recover on the descents. Again, I compared it to Geiger, where I would have 15 minutes of rest on each descent.

I also considered Gold Hill's less steep counterpart, the 341 Truck Route. It comes in at just under 5 miles at 5%. This climb isn't as steady as Mt. Rose or Geiger. It's steeper in the middle and eases off for almost a mile towards the end. It would take 23 repeats and 225 miles. Traffic is very light out there and I love the 341 descent.

A few other options crossed my mind. Kingsbury (13 repeats, 205 miles), US 50 (14 repeats, 254.8 miles), and 6 Mile Canyon (19 repeats, 224 miles). There are tons of other climbs around Tahoe and I could even head towards Markleeville and do Monitor or Ebbetts. However, Geiger Grade just felt right to me. It was in the Goldilocks zone- long but not too long, steep enough but not too steep. On top of it all, Geiger Grade has that sentimental value to me. When I want to know where my fitness stands, I go as hard as I can up Geiger. I've tested myself there so many times. It was only appropriate that the biggest test yet should happen on the same road.


I was already in training mode for the Alta Alpina Challenge (200 miles, 20,000 feet), so the timing was perfect. I was up to 130 miles with 16,000 feet, so I was looking for a ride of ~150 miles with at least 15,000 feet. I decided to try 10 repeats of Geiger to both prepare for the AAC and see if I was Everesting material. That ride went pretty well for me. I finished in just under 12 hours and learned a few things along the way. I don't do many repeats when I'm training. I don't know why, but that's just never been my style. So most importantly I think I was training my mind of how to make it work. I know it's cliche, but you really have to take one climb at a time or things get overwhelming.

Here are the Strava links for that ride: Part 1, Part 2.

Here are the times for all 10 climbs:

My interpretation was that I started out too fast. 38.5 minutes isn't a fast time on a normal day, but I'm not doing 10 climbs on a normal day. As you can see, there was a big jump between climbs 4 and 5. I wanted to start a little slower next time and see if that would change anything.

After the 10 repeats I took an easy week, then two weeks later was the Alta Alpina Challenge. I didn't ride all that well at the AAC, but I did finish. I guess the good news is that I learned how to climb with dead legs. At a certain point I felt like I was going in slow motion, but I just had to keep moving. Put the ego aside and just finish. I had to do a lot of that when I was Everesting.

After the AAC I planned to do the same thing- take an easy week and try Everesting two weeks later. I didn't have the patience to wait. I felt good by the middle of the recovery week and decided that as long as the winds weren't in the 15-25mph range, I was going to give it a shot.

Everesting- The Ride

(Strava Link)

Let's start with a weather report: temperatures in the mid 90s with 10-15mph winds. I don't mind the heat. I worry more about the wind. 10-15mph is a normal day around here, so all in all it was a beautiful day to ride.

I started the ride at 3:20 AM. The temperature was about 60 and I had my leg warmers on and a jacket in my pocket for the descent. My two goals were to (1) take it easy on the first few climbs and (2) be sure to eat and drink early on. I was able to accomplish both goals.

As you can see, the first climb was slower than last time. I'm not so sure if the strategy paid off or not. I'll get into that more later, but for the first 4 climbs at least, everything was going to plan. I was really enjoying being out there in the morning. Obviously my legs were fresher, plus it was just so peaceful out there, especially on the first two climbs. I felt like I had the whole mountain to myself. When the sun started coming up, I had a great view of the alpenglow on Mount Rose.

Nutrition is always a challenge on long rides like this. I find that I can get away with almost anything up to 6-7 hours, but once I go past 7 or 8 I find it difficult to get enough calories in. Today more than ever I wanted to be on top of things. I'm a small guy (5'7", 136 pounds on the morning of the ride), so I have a hard time digesting anything more than 200 calories per hour. On a short ride I eat almost all of my calories, but on a long ride I try to eat half and drink half. For the first two climbs I was drinking water and eating fig bars. For climbs 3-6 I was drinking Gatorade or Heed and eating fig bars. After climb 6 I was sick of fig bars and started drinking more calories. I would eat whatever sounded good at the moment when I got back to the car. I had a mixture of bananas, Doritos, Wheat Thins, Skittles, and Sprite. Not exactly the health food of champions.

It was a hot day, so I was taking in 1-2 Endurolytes per hour. Placebo or not, I find that they work for me. I was drinking about one bottle per hour, which is about as high as I can go without getting sick to my stomach. I was switching between Gatorade, Heed, and plain old water. I know a lot of people hate Gatorade, but it works for me. When I was having a long break (after 6, 8, 10, and 12) I'd drink Sprite. I don't know why, but I really love Sprite during a break. I went through more than 2 liters throughout the day. Again, not health food of champions. As much as I tried to drink, I still went from 135.6 pounds in the morning to 127.8 pounds after the ride. That's a 5.75% weight loss. I'm not sure how avoidable dehydration is on such a difficult ride. I couldn't have had much more to drink without upsetting my stomach.

Back to the ride. The first 4 climbs were relatively uneventful. I told myself that after climb 6 I'd take a longer break at my car (at the bottom of the climb at 341/Kivett). For some reason I felt like crap on climb 6. I experienced a similar thing when I did 10 repeats, but that time it was climb 5. You can see the big spike on climb #6 on the graph above. I took a long break, ate some Doritos, and bounced back. Climb 7 was better, and then on climbs 8-10 I settled into a consistent pace (slow, but consistent). At this point I was taking a long break after every even-numbered climb.

Climb 1: The Geiger Summit sign in the dark
Alpenglow over Mt. Rose. Pictures don't do it justice.

I knew I could complete 10 climbs. It's what came after the 10th climb that worried me. I had no idea what to expect. Would I keep riding at a similar pace? Would I really hit a wall and get super slow? Doubt started to creep in. 4 more climbs may not sound like a whole lot, but I knew it would take 5 hours at the very least (it ended up taking 6).

Climb 11 was the most difficult of the day by far. I'd like to say the wind picked up or the heat was getting to me, but I was simply doubting myself. Part of me wanted to quit. My mind wanted my body to give it an excuse to quit. The main thought in my head was, "I didn't come this far to give up now." I've quit a few things in my life, and I'm not just talking about bike rides. Quitting sucks.

Once climb 11 was over, I knew that climb 12 was the make or break climb. If I had a solid climb 12 I knew I was going to finish. If I didn't, who knows? Luckily for me, I had a solid climb. I was starting to settle into a rhythm. It was a slow rhythm, but it was a rhythm.

I continued the positive streak into climb 13. Climb 13 felt like the last climb in my mind. Once 13 was over I knew I'd do anything to finish climb 14. The rhythm continued. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you look at climbs 12-14, that's what my body was capable of at that moment. Climb 11 is what happened when my mind interfered.

I had a rush of energy at the beginning of climb 14. I shifted into a gear that I would have been using 12 hours ago and said to myself, "I'm going to ride this one hard." It was a fun little moment, but it didn't even last 5 minutes until reality set in and I had to settle back into the pace that I was using for climbs 12 and 13. The good news is that I didn't ruin my rhythm and I was able to find that pace again. I wasn't in celebration mode quite yet. I was focused on the task at hand.

The feeling at the top of climb 14 was more relief than anything else. I was too exhausted to do any fist pumping or shouting. I just stood there at the summit trying to catch my breath and trying to make sense of it all. As I write this (3 days later), I'm still not sure what to think. I'm just grateful that I'm healthy enough to enjoy the beautiful sport of cycling. I'm grateful that there are groups out there like Hells 500 who have the spirit that embraces a good challenge. I never would have thought about doing this on my own. I'm inspired to find the next challenge and I hope it will be as fun and rewarding as this one was.

If you've ever done a long ride you probably know that feeling towards the end when you say to yourself, "I'm never going to do this again." You're also probably familiar with changing your mind. I'm not ready to commit yet, but I'm kicking around the idea of trying a shorter and steeper hill. We'll see what happens.

Once again, thanks to Hells 500 for the inspiration!

Monday, June 30, 2014

5 Months Since Surgery

I made one more step in the right direction. I was able to complete all 8 passes at the Alta Alpina Challenge. The good news is that I finished. The bad news is that I didn't feel like I was riding my best that day. Last year I had the dreaded DNF at the actual Alta Alpina event, but ended up finishing all 8 passes on a solo ride two weeks later (more details here) in 14 hours and 14 minutes. This year I finished about an hour slower (Strava links 1 and 2).

I felt good early, then started to fade a little bit on Carson and Blue Lakes. However, I managed to get a second wind at lunch time without really taking too long of a break. As usual, my plan was to take it easy on Ebbetts to save some energy for Monitor. I was able to do that, especially on the west side of Ebbetts. However, when I got to the top of Ebbetts I was having breathing issues. This has become a pattern for me, unfortunately. It's happened to me twice at DMD and twice now at the AAC. I get short of breath when I stop to fill up my bottles. I'm not sure how to describe it. I don't think it's exercise-induced asthma because I don't feel any tightness in my chest or anything like that. I feel like I'm breathing hard like I would if I were actually pedaling. You might expect this after a tough climb, but only for a matter of seconds, not minutes. I can just sit there for a long time and I'll still be breathing hard for no reason. That makes it difficult to eat/drink, and more importantly I think I let my mind run away with it a little too much. I've quit rides because of it before and quitting seems like the only option. But maybe this AAC was a breakthrough. I sat at the top of Ebbetts for about 30 minutes, thinking I'd just muster up enough energy to ride straight back to the start. If I wasn't going to finish the ride, why not sit there for as long as I wanted? Well, it turns out that my breathing eventually got back to normal and I was able to finish the ride. If this happens again (hopefully it won't), I'll have more confidence that it will pass.

I may have finished the ride, but I wasn't exactly setting the roads on fire. I was in my easiest gear, struggling. Part of it was because my legs were dead and part of it was because I was afraid to push too hard and suffer another breathing problem. I took longer than normal rest stops on the Monitor climbs, but nothing too unreasonable. Once the final Monitor descent was over and I knew I was going to finish, I decided to make a little effort on that last little hill before the finish. It actually felt pretty good.

You may have noticed that I didn't mention my hip at all. It wasn't really an issue. I feel like I underperformed, but the hip was no excuse. I did 10 repeats of Geiger Grade 2 weeks ago (more on that later), and after that ride I decided that I am no longer defined as a guy with a bad hip. I'm just a rider like everybody else out there. It may sound small, but that was a big breakthrough for me. I was being too much of a drama queen about it. We all have our issues, right? I'm no different.

Again, this happened for me sooner on the bike than it did off the bike. A week later I went camping with my wife and we were playing in a river with our dog. I didn't feel much like playing in the river. My balance isn't what it used to be and what if I fell down on my bad side? Well, my wife called me out on that. I thought about it and realized she was right. I was letting my hip hold me back. I was using it as an excuse. I got in the river and guess what? Everything was fine.

What's the next goal? Everesting. I did Geiger x 10 (Strava 1 and 2) 2 weeks ago. I managed to do that in just under 12 hours. I'd need to do a total of 14 repeats to hit the magical 29,029 mark. In total it would be 221 miles and ~30,000 feet. I was pretty happy with my performance on the 10 repeats, but I know adding 4 more is a whole new ballgame. Nevertheless, I want to give it a try. I don't have a specific date in mind. My original plan was to do the AAC and then try Everesting two weeks later. I'm going to be a wimp and look at the wind forecasts, though. If we're having one of those 15-25mph wind days, I'm going to change my plans. I'm all about accepting the mental challenge of a windy day, but not for a ride like that.

First things first, though. I need to make sure I recover well from the AAC. My hip was a little bit sore afterwards, to be completely honest. But hey, so was the rest of my body. Today is my 2nd day completely off the bike, then I'll do a super easy 10 miles or so tomorrow and see how I feel on Wednesday. I don't have any plans for this weekend. It all depends on how I'm feeling.

Friday, June 6, 2014

4 Months Since Surgery

June 4th was the 4-month anniversary of the surgery on my broken hip. Life isn't "normal" yet, but it's close.

My limp is much better. I still limp a little bit, but it's not as obvious and I'm not as self-conscious about it. I think it's one of those things that just takes time. As my leg gets stronger, the limp decreases. I have better balance on my bad leg, I can lift heavier weights, and I can use a tighter resistance band. I can do lunges now, which I couldn't do a month ago. My flexibility is very close to where it was before the injury. I still have progress to make. I don't climb stairs well. The lunges still hurt and my form isn't perfect. My left leg is still much weaker than the right except for maybe my calves. I'm getting there, but I'm not there yet.

I'm a little more patient now. At first I was so worried and I felt like some of my pain was a sign that something was going horribly wrong. I didn't have any trust in my recovery and I hated the idea that there was a foreign object in my body. Now I've seen progress and I've felt the pain decrease over time. I feel like a little pain here and there is normal. I'm still not crazy about the foreign object in my body, but I'm learning to accept it. I'm mostly pain-free. I still get pain when I sleep. If I've been sitting around too long, those first few steps after I get up hurt a little bit.

What about the bike? I did my first century on May 3rd and I've been doing one a week since then. It wasn't a goal of mine to go back to doing a century per week right away, but I've felt good and the weather's been nice, so I couldn't resist. Because things are going so well, I've made it an official goal to complete all 8 passes at the Alta Alpina Challenge on June 28th.. With that in mind, I did back-to-back centuries on the 24th and 25th. I did 120 miles on the 30th and will work my way up to 150.

I'm not as fast as I used to be (which wasn't fast to begin with), especially on the climbs. I'm not sure how much of that is my weak left leg and how much of that is just being out of shape. I'm not too worried about it at the moment. It may sound corny, but as long as I'm out there pushing myself and making progress from week to week, I'm happy.

I'm still lacking confidence in my bike handling abilities. I take it super slow through the corners and I'm extra cautious on the descents. I'm wearing the hell out of my brake pads. I had a moment on the Mt. Rose descent one week where I freaked out and my hands started shaking enough to make my bike wobble from side to side. I had to pull over and compose myself. I'm not even sure what caused it. I wasn't really going all that fast. I was just worrying about crashing. Overall, though, I am getting more comfortable. I did both sides of Monitor and Ebbetts and I never felt scared. I kept my speed in check, but I was never uncomfortable. I think this is another thing that will come with time. I do the Geiger descent a lot and I know it very well, so I just let myself go a little bit faster each time. I have my ups and downs, but overall I'm getting better.

Physically, my body feels fine. My hip doesn't bother me when I'm riding. A month ago I could still feel some pain when I was out of the saddle climbing. That's pretty much gone now. As long as the hip itself doesn't hurt, I feel justified in riding as much as I want. (The off-bike workouts I've been doing give me more hip soreness than riding does.) I did over 1,000 miles in May. A lot of it wasn't high intensity, but it's still a positive sign.

As a whole, I feel like there are two sides to my recovery: the bike side and the off-bike side. Recovery has come much faster and easier for me on the bike versus off the bike. However, the gains I make on the bike give me the confidence that gains will come off the bike in due time. I just need to keep doing my exercises, keep stretching, and give it time.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Spectator Report: 2014 Tour of California Stage 1

2014 is the 4th year in a row that I've visited the Tour of California. Unfortunately, I was a little pressed on time this year. I was only able to go see Stage 1 in Sacramento (a sprint stage ultimately won by Mark Cavendish). If you want to take a trip down memory lane, here are some Spectator Reports from last year:
 And here's one from 2012: Spectator Report: 2012 Tour of California

On to the action. The plan for the day was to hang out at the team bus area before the start (my favorite race viewing experience), then drive towards the KOM in Auburn to find a spot to watch the peloton roll by. The day went relatively smoothly and all goals were accomplished. The KOM was packed, so we ended up driving a little more and found a nice and quiet uphill section a few miles down the road.

Team Bus Area

The team bus area is great. You get to see the buses, tons of bikes, and a few of your favorite riders if you're lucky. The race started in downtown Sacramento.

Team bus area
The buses were parked on a long, straight stretch of road. I didn't have my bike with me and I can't exactly run around on my hip yet, so I focused most of my energy on the area that had Omega Pharma Quickstep, Giant Shimano, Cannondale, and Trek.

It's always interesting to see how different the buses are at these North American races. Some teams (Garmin) have a big bus like normal, while others are in rented RVs (Omega Pharma QuickStep). Here's a collection of team buses.

Garmin Sharp bus

BMC bus

Cannondale bus

Giant Shimano bus

Jamis bus

Jelly Belly bus

Team Sky bus

Trek bus

United Healthcare bus
Belkin bus

As you can already see, the bikes are usually lined up by the buses and they are surprisingly accessible. For some teams you could just reach out and touch them. The most interesting bike of the day was Tom Boonen's custom "Tornado Tom" themed paint job. You can see more pictures here.

Tom Boonen's custom bike for the 2014 Tour of California

The paint changes colors from different angles

My pictures don't really do it justice
I got a few pictures of some of the custom national champion bikes while I was at it.

USA (Freddie Rodriguez)

Rotor made some awesome looking chainrings to go with the theme

Mexico (Luis Lemus)

The Mexican-themed chainrings. Also, Luis Lemus is pretty active on Strava, so go follow him there.

Norway (Thor Hushovd)
Here are some other bikes:

Jens Voigt's bike

Stage-winning bike of Mark Cavendish

Matt Goss. I highly recommend watching Orica GreenEdge's videos on YouTube.

Peter Sagan's bike for the 2014 Tour of California
One of the more interesting things I saw was the camera on John Degenkolb's bike. It turned out to be a Shimano camera that recorded this awesome footage.

John Degenkolb's bike.

The Shimano camera with an interesting looking mount

Degenkolb giving and interview
Here they were actually getting the camera ready before the race.
I also got to see Giant Shimano's photographer at work.

Giant Shimano's photographer

My low-budget version of the team photo
I managed to see quite a few riders.

Freddie Rodriguez

Greg Van Avermaet

Michael Schar

Niki Terpstra

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan

Peter Sgan

Sagan draws a huge crowd

Peter Stetina

Peter Stetina

Thor Hushovd

Thor Hushovd
I'd like to give special mention to Jens Voigt, who is going to retire after this year. First of all, he came to Reno last year and did a ride up Mt. Rose, which was a really fun time for me even though I got dropped about halfway up the climb (read about it here). Second, I've seen him quite a few times over the last few years and he is always super nice to the fans. Today was no exception. He took more pictures than any rider I saw. He always seems to have something funny to say and he gets a laugh out of every fan who takes a picture with him. The sport is going to miss you, Jens. I hope he ends up on TV. He'd be perfect for it.

Jens Voigt

Jens Voigt

Jens Voigt

Jens Voigt

Jens Voigt
Here are a few random photos.

I spotted the GCN crew in Sacramento. They are my favorite channel on YouTube behind Orica GreenEdge.

This little fan got a Peter Sagan autograph
My wife was on Tom Boonen patrol. He's one of the few riders she's actually heard of. She also got a good picture of Mark Cavendish.

Tom Boonen

Tom Boonen

Mark Cavendish

The Race

As mentioned, the KOM was packed, so we kept driving and found a small uphill section where there weren't too many people around. I had enough time to get in a short ride, then I could tell the race was getting closer. None of my photos or videos really turned out all that well, but I'll post them anyway. There was a small breakaway group and the peloton was closer behind than I expected. Omega Pharma was on the front, followed by Giant Shimano and Sky. Cavendish ended up winning the stage in a very close photo finish against Degenkolb. As it stands right now, it looks like Bradley Wiggins is going to win GC. So it appears that the proper teams were at the front already on Stage 1.