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How The How The Race Was Won Was Made

25 May

For as long as I’ve been making these, people have been asking how long it takes. Now you can see for yourself (sort of).

The finished video is here: http://cyclocosm.com/2017/05/how-the-race-was-won-giro-ditalia-2017-stages-10-15/, though the kitchen sequence is actually from here: http://cyclocosm.com/2017/05/how-the-race-was-won-giro-ditalia-2017-stages-5-9/. Stages 1-4, if you’re curious, are here: http://cyclocosm.com/2017/05/how-the-race-was-won-giro-ditalia-2017-stages-1-4/

And the Recon Ride (Rest Day Round-Up?) recorded (off-camera) between segments here: http://cyclocosm.com/2017/05/the-recon-ride-podcast-giro-ditalia-2017-rest-day-round-up-ii/

Like the video? TAKE THE SURVEY

2007 Working Man's Stage Race – Race Report

19 Jul

So I’m gonna try to be upbeat, because this was a pretty fun event, but I didn’t get my workout in today and that makes me grumpy. Working Man’s “stage race” is a three day event, held over consecutive evenings on the New Hampshire/Massachusetts border. I think a more clever name would be “Criterium Regionál” (misplaced accent for added comic effect) since it more closely resembles the format of that storied French race than a traditional multi-day event. But I digress.

Stage 1 – Time Trial
Blue collar moniker notwithstanding, this is not a “working man’s” race. Especially if you live in Boston, where even a workday of 7:30 to 3:30pm leaves barely enough time to battle your way through traffic and get to Amesbury, MA in time for sign in. Perhaps if the organizers weren’t citing a made-up USCF rule about all fields needing to sign-in before the first rider starts racing, there would be less of a time crunch for us commuters.

The course is 6.25 or so miles, with some undulation, but nothing that should slow you down/cause you save up for the road ahead. That’s really another trait that belies the name – the parcours is flat enough that Joe Megabucks can roll up to the line on some seriously pricey aero gear confident that he’s bought himself at least a couple of seconds. I had some closeout Cosmic Elites (with some fancy tubies taped on not-so-straight) and my ole’ Vision Techs. I think I was well below the curve.

No matter. I arrived in the nick of time to give Rebecca Menke my aerobars and sign in. Start at 7:04 pm, so after reattaching the bars post-Rebecca’s race, I did my patented out-and-back with a minute to spare warm-up and arrived -1:15 to my start. I began my watch on the guy one minute ahead of me so I could forget about it when my turn came, and just do the subtraction later. Hopped out of the gate quick, jacking the HR up to 180 before settling in. Lesson for next time – go harder off the line and get the legs locked into the burn.

I felt good, but couldn’t really get the ear-buzzing, leg-searing drive that you need over every rise to do a real solid TT. Too much easy training, I think. Plus I took the corners like a myopic nun with serious reservations about the existence of an afterlife. I was a little nervous about the tape job on the tubulars still, and I felt I was having a good enough run to worry about blowing it in a crash around one of the not-completely-easy corners on course.

There’s a climb that peaks at 4.5 miles, and really, that’s the end of the race. I was about halfway up this climb, feeling good, but in no pain, when my 30 second man caught me. I followed (not drafted) him home, and it was really easy. It’s clear I need more aggressive rides, harder intervals (some effing hills around here wouldn’t kill me); something to get me back into the pain habit. I was a bit down on myself, but when results came in, it was revealed I’d started between the guy who came in second and the guy who came in third (there’s really only one worse place to start than that) and finished in 8th. Not too shabby, for even with only 31 riders, it’s still a 2/3 field.

Stage 2 – Circuit Race
The circuit was much the same as the TT, with a slight extension and another kinda hill thingy, followed by another easy descent. It turns out the TT had claimed a few victims, with Josh Lipka crashing and Josh Bardige being directed off-course by the police. So lots of riders, I figured would be mixing it up, looking to make up for lost time, especially as the race is run on a points scoring system.

Things were pretty hot from the gun, and while some early moves went, no KOM points were awarded the first lap, prompting me to hold off because I “didn’t like the mix” of riders going up the road. I was waiting for Lipka or Colin H. Murphy or Ryan Kelly to put in an attack and break the field up. This did not happen. After a lap of sitting around, Josh Lipka put in a sharp attack to get the remaining KOM point, and broke a small group of guys clear over the top (self included). But the descent was too fast and too straight to get any distance.

As the race developed, it became clear a lot of guys weren’t racing to win. Maybe there was some sort of UNH lovefest going on – I can’t really tell. But lots of hard pulls and nonsensical attacks went out. Riders took flyers, but after the break was pulled back on lap 3, it was pretty much gruppo compatto. I guess I kinda got lulled into riding uptempo but not hard, too, around 160 bpm, and spent a lot of time watching and marking attacks that didn’t make sense, waiting to throw my full power into a move that never came.

On the penultimate lap, it began to rain, which I was fine with because, crooked front tire aside, Conti Sprinters at 105 psi felt amazing, and stuck to the road like you wouldn’t believe. I was getting real sick of sitting around, and so, on a long stretch of road leading into a sweeping uphill bend, I wound it up from like, 20 wheels back. Too far, yeah, so there was advanced warning, but c’mon – who’s gonna mark me? I got a gap, and out of sight for a second or two, but really couldn’t pop that zone of serious pain you have to push through for a good break. The climb, like all the others, was followed by an idiotically easy downhill, and so I was swept up after a within 3 or 4 minutes.

The attack, followed shortly by the KOM hill, really got my blood up, and I wanted to attack more. But the descent let me sit up too much, and my engine powered down a gear, even as some real watts merchants went to the front and strung out the field to no apparent purpose. I just put it in my head to get over the KOM line on the last lap in good position, so I wouldn’t have to fight through the descent. I took some yellow line liberties on the way up, but nothing like what people were pulling down the other side. I’m all for a little gamesmanship, but this race was finishing at dusk, in the gloom and rain, on essentially open roads – maybe my instincts for self-preservation are just too strong.

Needless to say, I got very confused in the mish-mash of the closing KM, and took a terrible line around the final corner, but got a descent sprint in (watts wise) to salvage 12th. This left me in 7th overall, which in a race that pays to 6th, is not a bad place to be with one event to go. Teammate Paul Richard, who’s much better at this sort of thing than I am, wormed his way up well through the closing meters, and with his 5th place finish, jumped into the GC Top 10. So we’d have some interesting GC leverage in the final event Points Race the next day.

Stage 3 – Points Race
This actually never happened. Despite a summer of drought, it had been raining all day and the officials judged the track “too wet” to race on safely. Now, I’ve only had one race before canceled due to rain, and that was something disgusting like a 6-inch, day-long downpour – one of those things that should be a nor’easter but it’s 45 degrees out. Today’s race canceling weather was on-and-off misting to light rain. Independent sources had referred to the Star Racetrack as “thunderdome” and “the circle of death”, but I’m incredulous (to say the least) that conditions were unsafe.

I’ve really got nothing bad to say about the organizers and officials at this event. They were helpful, friendly and approachable, madly in love with their 20+ year-old race, and in all ways the antithesis of most authority figures I encounter in this ridiculous sport. But after enduring the hassle of:

  1. waking up early
  2. driving to work (I never drive to work)
  3. feeding the meter ($3, plus schedule disruption)
  4. paying a parking ticket because I couldn’t get out of a meeting to feed the meter ($20)
  5. burning a quarter tank of gas ($10, plus carbon footprint guilt)
  6. 120 miles of wear and tear on my aging Subaru
  7. 2.5 hours of heavy-ass traffic

getting to the track to be told the race was canceled due to the barely-falling drizzle was a pretty effing bitter pill to swallow. Especially because I was one of the first riders not to be paid in the now-frozen GC, and especially because word of the cancellation got out to many non-Cosmo entrants (like the entire state of New Hampshire) before they invested all that effort in trying to attend.

2007 Fitchburg-Longsjo Race Report – Stage 3 Road Race

30 Jun

So I’ve been feeling kind of fat this whole Fitchburg weekend, and I realized why on the ride to the race this morning. Even on my easiest days of training, I get in more saddle time than I’ve had in two days of this race. Heck, just the ride to work takes up more time than the TT. I realize there are a tremendous number of fields to get through in a given day, but c’mon – yesterday’s Men’s 3 race was 9 laps; the Men’s 2 was 20. Until today, I just didn’t feel like I was getting my money’s worth.

Even todays race, all 68 miles of it, felt a little on the short side. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Yesterday was miserable, so I decided to forget about racing for a bit, eat some grilled steak, watch some Big Love and drink some beer. And I did and it was awesome. Woke up this AM on short sleep, but had two bowls of Honey Nut, a cup of coffee and was out the door. Skipped warm up entirely, and took my time swapping cassettes, chamoising up, and visiting the porta-john.

Despite this, my HR was 173 on the line (f-ing Timex. I can’t wait to tear into their cruddy HRM with a product review). Got rolling and the break went early (4-5mi?) and took its time finally getting together. Lots of people laughed, but there were some solid riders in it, and had I been feeling a little better/had a well placed GC teammate, I probably would have taken a shot at it. Various teams shuffled riders in, but I think the final composition was something like Anthem, NEBC, Velo-Europa and NorEast. Apparently no GC contenders.

The course is decent, a flat, rolling backstretch with a few short climbs, then a fairly steep transitional climb into the feed zone, then a rolling, wide-open climb and a wiiiiiiiiiide-open descent back through the lap. Points sprint on top of the hill. Last lap (that’d be the 6th, in our case) you race up Wachusett Mountain. A house on the back side of the course had a lawn party that was well underway when my field (the first of the day) rolled through at 9:20 or so. All in all, it was ok.

However, the officials (IHMO) began muffing things up around 9mi in, as they neutralized our field (for like 15 minutes) so the Masters could pass us. Despite my I usage of this neutral time to bum a homemade energy bar off Roy van Cleef, I think the neutralization was a mistake. It really interrupted the flow of the event, and in all honesty, I don’t think the Masters’ field ever would have caught us without the neutralization.

Certainly, the un-neutralization could have been done better. I think some riders just decided we were active and began rocket tucking up to, behind and eventually AROUND the official’s moto. Next lap, we caught the Masters back, and I commented “Not in such a hurry now, eh?”. They said some very dirty things back, but I believe also enjoyed the opportunity to do so.

With the break snatching up most of the points sprints, the racing activity was fairly limited. The escapados drew out their advantage to over 2 minutes as riders managed to cartwheel off the course on small climbs, pee on me (a first), break chains, and generally fart about. With three to go, some organized pulling got together, and I kept out of it for the most part. However, from my cheap seats, it appeared that GC contenders were pulling all on their little old lonesomes.

I mostly concerned myself with getting to and staying at the front during the steep climbs, and it proved fairly easy. Even as the break was caught at two to go, no one countered and we rode as a unit through the points sprint. There was still a man up the road, but with just a fistfull of seconds, we caught him well before the final shakeout. Which came way, way later than I would have liked.

Basically, I clung in with the field until the access road split into two one-way roads. Then I was riding – not just suffering over the pedals, but really riding – as steadily as I could, trying not to blow. There may have been a few seconds hiding on that ascent, but I was in no shape to pick them up. A few riders (Miro) who I would have liked to stay ahead of passed me, but what can you do? This race has basically been an expensive series of progressively less-annoying training races. Maybe I’ll be on form at Working Man’s or something.

All told, I’m thinking this race – like the other two – should have been longer. It was pretty much just a group ride to the bottom of the mountain. Granted, the final mile or so of climb takes a few minutes (7? 10?) but until it kicks up, everyone was just riding for position. I think there needs to be another pressing obstacle on the course somewhere. I only lost a 1:40 on the leaders, but was way back in 43rd. Put me 1:40 back of the winner during the queen stage at GMSR, and it’s a completely different story – though considering how much I love GMSR, comparing the two is a dangerous road to start down.

2007 Fitchburg-Longsjo Race Report – Stage 2 Circuit Race

29 Jun

So one for the “The Universe hates Cosmo” file today. Drive into the start with no worries (other than the massive calzone I foolishly ate all of the night before), and rode up (helmet on) to staging to sign in. Immediately I get yelled at to get off my bike at the staging tent. Keep in mind, no one else is here – the Cat 4 race is done, I don’t race for another hour, and Masters 35+ is on course. But hey, just because I loathe authority doesn’t mean I always ignore it. I get off my bike, sign in and head back to the car to warm up.

The parking lot is filled, I mean swarming, with dudes riding around with no helmet on. But hey, no big deal, right? The officials can’t fine everyone right? Cosmo should just watch out for Cosmo. I get the bike ready, and as I am doing so, realize there’s about 65psi of pressure in my tires. Granted, I left the wheels in my car, and there were big temp swings (91 the previous day, around 70 this AM) but still, I’m betting that I didn’t have 110psi in yesterday’s TT.

Once everything’s set, I ride around Fitchburg, adhering to the rules of the road, and not, as the race bible insists I avoid, riding on the course for warm up. I get a good HR in, the legs still feel effing horrible, but no big deal. Line up, endure a massive wait (scheduled start was 10:55, I think we were off by 11:10). The course suffers a bit from the Cox problem – the downhill is too long and gradual so everyone keeps on. Points sprint lap the first time around, too, so without a call out or a well-chosen starting position, really no shot at it.

Pace is decently hot (27.something mph avg for our pathetic 28 mile race), so I hang out in the wheels mostly, dodging the twitchy riders, staying out of trouble and moving up carefully. The descent is terrifying – I’m in 53/11, turning 80 rpm or so, surrounded by people moving this way and that. No one really has much faith in this field, so people start trail off in these 40mph half-wheel echelons as soon as they need to hit the brakes to avoid plowing into the rider of front of them. I come around the final turn for the second point sprint around 10th or so, but it’s still too far back to make an attempt.

Next lap I sit up a bit and get enveloped. No one wants to pull into the headwind so things spread out across the surprisingly bumpy road. When we make the sharp corner onto the downhill (w/ a tailwind) it doesn’t string – just a little cone of 10 or so guys, then a wall of the half-wheel echelon. I try to move up, and suddenly there’s a massive weave in front of me. Apparently, someone had been indecisive about which side of the median that appears about 2 miles into the lap to swing to. No one crashes, and I make it through ok, but at this point, I admit to myself there’s no way I can win/score points in the race with my legs like this.

So for the rest of the race (which was too short – barely an hour. Men’s 2 race was more than twice as long) I’m sitting like 50th or so, just trying not to get killed. At one point, I was on the wheel of the race leader (they wear orange here), all alone, about 10 feet to the left of the main field, because the twitching was so ridiculous. As we’re coming into the finish, people are going uber-nutty, and I end up dead last around the final corner. No big deal, and I cruise past a couple guys, for what I think was a pack finish. Certainly, I didn’t see any gaps up the road.

Au Contraire, it seems. Though neither I, nor anyone else watching the race saw it, apparently a nearly FOUR SECOND (!) gap appeared 4 wheels in front of me. I had my doubts, but what can you do? Protest the finish camera? So I lose 28 seconds because so herb (Andras Gipp of Affinity, you just made The List) couldn’t hold a frickin’ wheel. To add insult to injury, as I’m cooling down, I see some Women’s riders just riding into the sign-in tent, unmolested by the officials, and a guy from Rite-Aid doing repeats up the hill during the Women’s race. Then, on the way back from changing, I got yelled at for riding on the sidewalk.

2007 Fitchburg-Longsjo Race Report – Stage 1 TT

28 Jun

The last time I did Fitchburg was back in 2005, and man, was it a high-strung race. People cussing, shoving at the start lines, knocking each other around on course. Granted, today was a TT, but I’d have to say the overall scene was far more laid back. Lots of guys in the Cat 3 field just kinda sitting up, missing starts, no aero kits or nuthin’. I’d love to say that this was due to the more selective (if way stupider) course, but I don’t want to advance my own opinions on course design or anything.

I got to the hotel for reg about 40 minutes later than I’d planned, then rallied my Subaru to the start, only to have State Trooper Friendly tell me there’s no parking at the start line. No biggie, the last minute panic thing works well as a warm-up for me, and a megadose of caffeine never hurts. Drove to the civic center, checked in with the squad, had a bathroom visit and hammered off to the start.

I nailed the race clock syncro, rolling into the start house 40 seconds before my time, with an HR of 151. My 30 second man was absent, which gave me nothing to chase. And the holder held me crooked. But what can you do, right? Eventually 13:02:00 rolled around and I was off. Settling in was hard. My evil HRM was spitting out ludicrous figures (239, 240) so I had to go by feel. Aerobically I felt good, almost too easy, but the legs, even at 85 rpm, just couldn’t get on top of the gears I wanted to turn.

After my recon, I thought this might be an aerobar-free course, but last night I put them on, figuring better to have them than not. I think it was a good call, with a solid headwind for much of the climb. By about ten minutes in, I was getting a good lock on my minute man, and just pulled him back steady, passing him on top of the hill despite an inopportune chain throw. Only the steepest or longest bits forced me out of the aero position, but I still just couldn’t put power I wanted into the pedals sitting down.

I tucked into the aerobars and 53/14 on the descent. I was going probably 90-100 rpms with it, but still – the power just wasn’t there. Dodging the bumps was easy, but even with 1k, 500 and 200m to go signs, I really couldn’t push it red. I suppose any chance I had of doing well today disappeared with my bike under the front wheels of a black SUV last Monday, but it would have been nice to at least have the sensation of leaving it all out on the course. C’est la vie.

Finally got back to the hotel to check results later in the afternoon. 19:47, bad enough for 64th place, about 2:30 back from the worst sandbagger best finisher. No one else on INTERNATIONAL BICYCLE CENTERS fared particularly well, either, with C.Greg in 33rd with 19:09 and Paul and Mike a few ticks behind me. But it’s really only incentive to be that much more active over the coming three days.

2007 Cox Charities Cycling Classic Race Report

24 Jun

I am hilariously frail right now. Yesterday, I bumped my elbow with me knee and it hurt for like, 10 minutes. Most of my wounds have healed/scabbed, but now huge bruises are rising on my forearms and shins. I’m hoping they’re from Monday’s dust-up with the car, but the way I feel right now, they might very well be from scurvy. Even as I type this (lying prone on a blanket alongside the Cox Criterium course), I have to be careful what parts of my body I lean on. I’m essentially disabled without a bicycle underneath me.

So obviously this is the perfect time to start racing again. Especially in a 3/4 criterium with 125 riders on a non-selective course with a fast, bumpy downhill, like the one I was upended on at Great Falls. To be fair, the Cox Criterium course is kinda fun, but it’s not exactly kid gloves for coming back from a hard crash. Plus I drove down with Darcy, who promised that if I crashed again, she’d beat the living $&!t out of me. And Lord know, I don’t need that.

The INTERNATIONAL BICYCLE CENTERS team had more than 10 registrants, so we were officially a “VIT” (very important team), meaning a special warm-up tent, with its own bathroom, trainers, free Accelerade, Endurox, Poland Spring and underripe bananas, was ours to use. But I hate the trainer so much that even this wasn’t enough incentive to get me warmed up properly. At any rate, they kept us on the line for 10 minutes, and there was a neutral quarter lap or so, making warm-up essentially irrelevant.
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2007 Great Falls Criterium Report

8 Jun

Ok, so despite the fact that I’m healing extremely well (basically by throwing calories at my wounds), I bet you’re all probably still wondering how I got so beat up this weekend. Well, the story begins in a tent in my teammate Stephanie’s backyard around 8 in the morning, when people were like “Hey, are you two still here? The Women’s 4 start is in just over an hour!”

So it was another rushed scramble through Southern Maine, where confused CVS employees told us that 95 and 295 were “essentially the same thing”, despite the fact that we were trying to get to Auburn. No worries, though – another full-bladdered scramble, forged signature and truncated warm-up later, Sally was on the line (with her numbers pinned on, this time) and off, on her way to a 6th place finish (upgrade points!) after conquering the Boston Scientific sandwich with a dominating sprint.

I had a much calmer time of it, and this time even a teammate (Greg), who I’d ridden with before. The form’s just coming around for him, so we talked a little tactics after signing in. The course was (IMHO) fantastic, because, like the previous day, it lent itself to a variety of tactical scenarios. 90 degree corner, short wall, flat, 90, downhill, 90, downhill, 90, short, barely uphill finish straight. Plus, I found it darn fun to ride. Sure, a few pavement spots were a little bumpy, but I live for that Roubaix-style stuff. And with an overcast sky and a night of rain, I was more concerned about the corners than a few choppy patches.
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Lake Auburn Road Race Report

6 Jun

So at the end of my last race report, I noted I was coming up to Auburn (home of the J-Bone) looking for results. But come race day, I was heading up to Maine looking mostly for a bathroom. Further complicating things, my chaffeur/domestic goddess was in extreme danger of missing her start after my poor directions and road awareness sent us on a brief side trip to Gloucester. So treat your mind’s eye to the image of me careening through the hills of Central Maine, clinging (with a full colon) to the “Oh, s&!t” bar of a turbo VW wagon, piloted by the madwoman who purchased the vehicle with just such scenarios in mind. High comedy, indeed.

Upon arrival, I hobbled out to registration with her license, where the officials pulled a Sergeant Schultz (that’s two “Hogan’s Heroes” references in one day, BTW) and let me sign for her while she got changed. I then spent a few nerve-wracking moments in the porta-potty line before finally getting to relax and prepare for my race. The site was pretty nice – park in a field, some buildings, some shade, but no water(!). Apparently, there was water, but no one found out where it was until the p/1/2 field got rolling. Still, friendly officials, well managed.

The course was (IMHO) great. The start was downhill, followed by a good, short wall (probably 45-60 seconds of ascending?). Two corners atop the wall were interesting, followed by a bumpy gradual downhill to the lake. The last 3k had a good 250 feet of climb, and the last KM was a false flat until 200 meters. So no easy sprint, no mass/power contest. It would take some smarts, either in selecting a move or position, to do well here.
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Cyclonauts Racers Criterum Report

1 Jun

So after a weekend of being spoiled in New Hampshire with scenic, hilly rides, delicious food, fresh coffee, and all the other things a cyclist can be spoiled with, I figured I better even my karma out and do a criterium around a sunbaked race track. Twice. And that’s what I got. Believe me, the Cyclonauts Racers Criterium holds no secrets.

I left my base of operations for the weekend (Hanover, NH) around 11, enlarging my carbon footprint substantially on the ride to Stafford Springs, CT because I didn’t want to be late. I rolled in about 30 minutes ahead of start time to a barren wasteland of a parking lot, with no signs anywhere. I couldn’t see cars, cyclists or anything from the road, and pretty much every gate I came to was closed. Still, I refused to surrender, and eventually found my way in.

Registration was something of a mess, with high winds (maybe the infield wasn’t the best spot for reg, eh, Cyclonauts?), long distances to the car and bathrooms, and no real signage. But because it still wasn’t complicated enough for me, I left my license in the pants I wore to Sunapee, so I had to go back to my car, open my laptop, find my race resume, take the license number off of that, write it down, and finally return to the registration tent.
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Lake Sunapee Race Report

22 May

Around 7:30 am, I departed Hanover for Lake Sunapee, having passed up massive opportunity for drink and debauchery the night previous, with passenger Erik Newman, who most certainly did not. We were hopeful when we left that the damp, but not rainy, and cool, but not cold, conditions would continue throughout the day. As we hit the highway, the rain seemed to increase, but we were hopeful it was an illusion caused by increased speed. By the time we made it to the humble village depart in the Sunapee Ski Resort parking lot (an adventure in itself), we were hopeful of nothing. Not that I don’t enjoy riding in the forty-degree rain, but I generally don’t hope for it.

On the way into the lodge, my brain and colon had an argument about which to hit up first: the bathroom, or registration. My colon won. As a result, I registered late. I was expecting a fine (they fine you for everything) but my only penalty was a different number and no warm-up. Ran into teammate Greg at the start and we discussed strategy – mine was to hang on and maybe try stuff in the second lap. His was (having only two weeks of riding) to maybe hang on and help me. Since NEBC had, like, 10 riders, it’s clear we wouldn’t be dictating the tactics regardless.

Though the flyer proudly proclaims 1200 feet of climbing per lap, it’s really not that bad, with mostly mild rollers and one pitch of notable steepness. Back in 2004, the last time I did this race, we just rolled around the lake in a big clump and waited for the sprint, which is somewhere between uphill and flat. It’s nice because while the entire field is motivated into riding because they (like idiots) think “hey a sprint, anyone can win”, but then find their motivation sapped by the bit of rise preceding the line.

Once active, someone started pulling on the field. Nothing hard, but a good tempo. I was too far down/too much rained on to tell who was doing it, but I’d assume NEBC, since they had like 10 guys in the race (out of 43 starters). After a bit of riding, everyone settled down because it was rainy and cold. Over the first few rollers, I felt ok, keeping in the saddle and pushing just a bit to grab spaces. By the time we hit the wall climb, I, and some others, had enough of this junk, and got some space.

I don’t remember if there was an NEBC guy with us, but there must have been because I can recall pulling through once or twice. For some reason, I was really frustrated by the soaked feeling of my arms, so I took off my gloves, which impressed everyone. Eventually, though we climbed hard, we all sort decided not to try the break, but one dude from CCB just kept rolling over the top and got clear. From there we sort of puttered through the lap, with me wondering if we’d ever see the breakaway again.

I kept this thought for a while, but eventually, NEBC decide to send a bunch of guys to the front to make some pace, and we caught sight of him on the wide, straight-ish roads that make up the first part of the course. He hung out a while longer because I guess NEBC figured it was a done deal, but we finally recaptured him just as the rolling hills were beginning.

By this point I was feeling antsy. The legs were surprisingly good-feeling, not “holy crap, I gotta take off ASAP” legs, but decent. So I’d come to the front just at the top of each little rise and coast down, getting a head start on the next one, while keeping an eye on things. Eventually, an NEBC guy went, and I was like “ok, we can do this”. Honestly, I figured it was a good move because the dude appeared beefier than I was – maybe I could ditch him over a rise an solo in.

Not the case. It became immediately apparent that this guy would climb the legs off me. We went with about 12 miles to go, and held out until about 4 or 5, and I think I pulled through on an uphill exactly once. This isn’t to say we didn’t work well, sharing work without complaint when possible, but I was getting hurt over each climb. Which I guess is good, since I never get to climb w/hurt in my current environs. Coming over the hard pitch put me into some serious hurt, but I found a rhythm and it was a good experience.

Finally, over the last climb of note, they pulled the truck out from between us and the group. I looked back, and the field was there, and up the road, my companion had a few seconds. So I let up a bit, seeing as my legs were pretty toasted. The catch took a while, and I was kinda starting to regret not fighting to the last by the time the field swarmed over me. I retook position pretty well, but as we crested the climb, waiting for another non-NEBC rider to come through and chase, someone managed to bridge across, and the two piled up time on the downhill.

Complicating the chase was a steady stream of dropped riders. They didn’t get in the way, but made it impossible to see up the road, and to determine who, exactly, had jumped across. I pulled on some downhill stuff, but with the legs gone, I couldn’t really put in an effort. Hard to say if I would have been able to keep up if I hadn’t given in just that little bit, but I sure am regretting not making a go for it.

By the time we started sighting up for the sprint, they were clear to win. I grabbed second wheel coming through the traffic circle, remembering that in my last time out here, I’d left myself way too far back. Second wheel is too close though, and there was no leadout to speak of (ahem, NEBC, I’m looking at you, here), so I was down in 53/23, doing like 40 rpm, waiting for someone to go. Not that I would have won or even placed well in the sprint, but I would have enjoyed grabbing a wheel for a “true” ST, rather than limping in however many seconds down.

So, in the end, 19th place and the personal satisfaction of sticking a break, at least for a little bit. Erik was already back in the car, having bailed from the 4 race after going off the front for a lap. I drove home feeling OK but sad to lack the high-end grit when it mattered. I’m still trying to get skinny, which might have been the cause of some of the leg weakness in the climbs, but I think the problem is just not enough genuinely hard riding. Maybe some shorter, harder intervals are in order. Maybe I’ll get some next week in Connecticut.