Kate Buss: The Joe Martin Climbtrial

Kate reports on her 3rd place finish at the Joe Martin uphill Time Trial

"Joe Martin, I'll be back..." - Kate Buss

I first went to Joe Martin Stage Race in 2016. I had applied for my Cat 2 upgrade just a couple weeks prior, and I must admit, the race resume on my upgrade request was embellished to say the least. I had set my goals on this race and had upgraded to a Cat 2 so that I could race in the JMSR P/1/2 field. Fortunately, that year, the race started out with the iconic Devil’s Den uphill time trial (or more accurately named, “climbtrial”), and I somehow managed to claim a 3rd place against all the pros, gaining a bit of confidence and setting myself up in good GC position. Throughout the next three days of the race, I fell from 3rd, all the way down to the second page of results. That whole weekend was a whirlwind of emotional highs and lows. From being thrilled at my TT result to being utterly terrified in the middle, or more accurately, back of a speeding peloton.

In 2017 it was a different story. I returned to Joe Martin with a bit more experience and my team, Team TIBCO - Silicon Valley Bank, around me. I went into the time trial feeling confident and came out with a satisfying third place finish, sitting just five seconds behind both the leader and my teammate, Lauren Stephens. That year, I protected my GC position much more successfully, dropping down only to 4th GC after fighting to try to get Lauren the overall win on the final stage.

This year I set my sights once again on Joe Martin and that infamous climbtrial. Neither of the two riders that bested me last year were returning, and I knew I could be in contention for the win. Unfortunately for me, the race changed slightly so that the time trial moved to stage 3, after the two road races rather than before. Admittedly, this change led to a more exciting and dynamic race for the overall win. Selfishly, I preferred the time trial first because it set me up in a good position going into the rest of the race. No matter, time trial day came, and I was stoked. This was my day.

The night before I had discussed wheel and bike choices with my DS, Ed Beamon. I could either ride the Fuji SL, which I had ridden the previous year, or the new Fuji Supreme, my bike choice for 2018. While the SL is lighter, the Supreme is one of the most aerodynamic road bikes on the market. Since the time trial does have a short downhill section I chose to go with the Supreme with disc brakes for the aerodynamic advantage. Plus, in past years riders have finished well on all out TT bikes so I figured I’d split the difference. I did the same with my wheel choice - best of both worlds. I chose an Edco Umbrial Aero wheelset on the front, a bit deeper to give an aero advantage, and the Edco Julier climbing wheel in the rear to lose some weight. We pumped the Maxxis Relix tubular tires to around 90 psi.

As I was warming up, I mentally prepared myself for the suffering that was about to come. I remembered all the workouts I had done leading up to this race and told myself that I would have been wasting my time if I didn’t go out there and give everything I had. And so when the time came, I did just that. Riding down the mountain I knew that even if someone bested me, I couldn’t question whether I had given it everything. So with my fingers crossed I waited for results. Regularly pestering Ed and my teammates, “do you know yet?” Alas, the news came from another rider.

“Congrats! Nice ride.”

“Oh,” I said, “was it? How did I do?”

“Third!” She said with excitement. I put a raw smile on my face. Third again. For the third year in a row. A bit later I saw the official results. Second place was only 0.63 seconds ahead of me. What could I have changed to go one second faster? Should I have been more aero? Been lighter? Maybe I shouldn’t have been swerving across the road as I was going cross-eyed toward the top of the climb.

There are probably hundreds of changes I could have made that would have given me that one second, but at a certain point you have to stop dwelling on what you could have done and focus on what you did. I rode my bike to the best of my ability. I had the best wheel setup on the fastest bike out there. And I was still third. Apparently third time isn’t the charm. But luck only gets you so far. Hard work gets you further. I’ll be back, Joe Martin. I have a race to win.



  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon