Monday, July 28, 2008

Tour of Hilltowns - W3/4

Tour of the Hilltowns
This is considered to be one of the hardest race courses on the New
England calendar, if not the hardest. The course is a 90 km (56
mile) loop, with the famous or infamous East Hawley Road climb (a
four mile steep climb) around mile 20 which continues with a rolling
course to finish after a long uphill (10 miles long) to Notchview
Julie and I participated in the women 3/4 race category and we were
aiming to have top placings in this event. Our strategy was to start
East Hawley on the second or third wheel, stick to a break (both of
us if possible) and work together up to the finish. In case one of
us would be in a break, the other one would cover attacks and block
any progress made in chasing down the break.
The first 20 miles of the race were uneventful - there were few
climbs and the course was mostly downhill. Julie and I stayed close
to each other. By mile 18, when Julie moved to the right of the pack
and close to the front, I quickly followed. Shortly after that and
just by the beginning of East Hawley Road, a rider from CRC NY
Velocity moved to the front. I was able to take her wheel and she
pulled me right to the front. Julie also followed. It was just what
we wanted.
The climb of East Hawley Road is unforgiving and quickly the pace set
by a Razorfish rider, followed by a CRC Radical Media rider began to
shed riders. By mile 2 or so up the climb there were only five of
us - the two above mentioned riders, the rider from CRC NYC
Velocity , Julie and myself. I was happy to see Julie and I were up
in that break together but unfortunately Julie could not hold on to
the pace of the break. Almost by the top of the climb, the break was
established - the CRC Razorfish rider, the CRC Radical Media rider
and myself.
We got organized on a paceline and started working together pretty
quickly. We worked hard to keep the pace steady and fast. For the
next ten miles, we kept the paceline going. When we got to the
feedzone in mile 35, still we had no riders chasing us in sight. We
continued working steadily. Unfortunately I had a mechanical around
mile 40, just before we entered Route 9 (the final highway climb). I
had to get off the bike, and once I got back on, I started chasing.
I knew it would be hard to catch back because I knew they would
continue to work together.
For the first 8 miles of the 16 I had left, I kept a steady pace. Not
only did I want to get back to the break, I also didn't want to get
caught. The last 8 miles were grueling, it was very windy and the
climbs felt very tough. I was feeling sick to my stomach and felt
that the end was far away. I was also fearing I would get caught by
a group behind…although, I also knew that Julie would be covering for
During the last 6 miles I tried to focus, until the last climb where
I saw my husband Roger and my daughter Clara encouraging me. At that
point I knew I could do it, I knew also that the end was close. Soon
enough I saw the 1 km mark, I still looked back and saw no sign of a
chase. Finally I took a right onto the Notchview reservation and
another right to the finish line. I was happy to have been able to
hold to the third place.
A little after that, I saw the CRC NYC Velocity rider through the
finish line and soon after there came Julie. As we congratulated
each other, Julie said she thought she finished 6th; however I was
happy to see when I picked up my medal and prize that she finished
5th. We did very well, we worked very hard for the result and we are
very proud and happy.


Old Men Trying To Go Fast

This weekend was Hilltowns and Norwell, both great races.  Hilltowns has a killer 4 mile hill half way through which pretty much determines the macro order of the race.  I'd done the Mt. Ascutney Hillclimb the week before and that was a great thing.  It's the same length as Holly Hill Rd. but a lot steeper.  In any case, after a long 20 mile descent, we hit Holly Hill.  I was a bit farther back in the pack than I should have been and had to use the hill to work my way to the front of the pack.  Unfortunately, 5 guys got away on the hill.  I should have been at the front, as I had the legs to go with those guys.  The next phase of the race was a another long descent which was fast as we wanted to keep our group of about 20 small or even smaller.  On the 12 mile finishing hill, there were numerous abortive attacks but we all arrived at the top at once.  I tried to stay on Karl Hambrecht's wheel for the sprint, but got cut off on the 180 degree turn to the sprint.   19th - wish I could sprint better.

Norwell, as Josef reports, is a great course.  It's a very smooth, fast, 2 mile loop with a short power hill to the finish.  We did 11 laps.  Peter Megdal and a Tean Psycho guy got away.  Jody and Brett did too much work early and got a bit fried.  I figured Gearworks would chase them down, as they has 6 or 7 guys, including Curley and Stevens.  They didn't.  It came down to a sprint which suited me in this case as it was uphill.  I was just 2-3 wheels too far back at the turn, and got a bit tangled with Brett who was cooked and slowing on the hill, but got 9th.  Brett and Jody were just behind me.

BTW, while there was no women's field, Cathy Rowell rode with us, finished 26th and said she had a great time.  So that is always an option, ride with us old men.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Attleboro Crit

So, Alex broke down and did a crit. And naturally, she had a lot of fun! The course isn't very technical, but it also isn't boring at all. Julie and Giulia came to pick me up (Lizi was traveling down separately with her superfans) at the ass crack of dawn, and we tried to get onto I-95 southbound... except we couldn't. Apparently an oil tanker exploded, closing the highway. I'll say in this case, that was a good decision. We got to the race with barely enough time to warm up on the course a bit.

The race started out, and we didn't have much of a plan, so I mostly just sat on the front because my brain doesn't function too well when I'm racing, and occasionally I would try and actually go fast, but that never really worked. I went for one prime, and discovered that I still can't sprint, so I just rode around on the front again and pulled the field some more. Then I managed to get myself boxed out on the hill on the last lap behind two girls who felt the need to exchange some words and elbows over some swerving, sprinted back up to the field, got ridden onto the sidewalk by the giant NEBCer, hopped back over the curb, sprinted down the hill to catch back on, and hit the final turn at the back of the pack. Girls start sprinting and its like I'm standing still, I might have even coasted over the line. But, Julie ended up 3rd! Go Julie!

Despite all that, I had a good time. Who'd'a thunk it?? I might be back to do another crit before the summer is up... but don't hold your breath! I can't break my streak of more than one race a year, after all...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

OK, you wanna know about Fitchburg 2008?

I kind of feel bad about not writing much about my races, mostly because I get really conscious of "tooting the horn", if you know what I mean. Anyway, since I came away in one piece and can live to tell about it another day, I thought I would give some nuggets of (joy)...

Just as a background- The masters field was somewhat smaller than usual, for reasons I cannot explain- Masters Nationals are at the same time, but many big guns who didn't come here were not on the rosters at Nationals either. In any case, as a little "throw the salt on the wound" tactic, just at the last minute, Mark / Frank McCormack, Tobi Shultze, Troy Kimball, AND Roger Aspholm sign up at the pre-reg deadline. For IBC, we had Brian, Jody, John Fennel, and me.

TT-I love listening to the parking lot/warm up/starting line/portapotty chatter at epic races. This is one where it's just part of the club to complain about the course. Everyone has something to gripe about, and I always answer like Letterman would, which is "just send another angry letter from Lou Rawls". I suppose people don't like the climbing, or the poor road surface, or the rain. Not ever having even seen the course before, I didn't know what to expect, so I just brought the road bike (Sorry TT bike-you still get to be the weekly tempo workout bike for now).

I'm glad I did- Eddy B always says that if there are hills, go light- no argument. I think I would have suffered like mad on the TT bike, especially since I only have 52 tooth chainring on the front. BTW- that reminds me- Eddy B also likes to remind people that in a course like this, you CAN switch bikes mid-race...yes- you can have someone standing by at the top of the climb and you can just hop off a la cyclocross and hop on the TT bike for the rest of it. I don't know if anyone at Fitchburg did it, but that would have been cool to watch. Anyway, I finished in the middle of the pack, which is better than usual for me- In the past, I would fall about 2/3 down the list, so this was improvement.

RR- Rain. The previous night's news did not predict this, and I came in a t-shirt/shorts. I was impressed with the fact that 99% of the rest of the racers had full winter gear- Lordy! It's July, for crying out loud! Are you all that anal when you travel? I kept thinking, "You know, it really can't rain THAT hard for too long". And like that, the bulk of the rain was over by our start time. When I thought about it, that was great- All my previous Fitchburg RR's entailed some level of a Bataan Death March through 90 degree heat. John decided he didn't want a feed, because he wasn't planning on staying with the field for too long. I wonder if carrying three bottles had anything to do with that...As such, this race seemed just so short to me-No breaks, and because of the cooler temp, I was able to take each climb up Princeton with relative ease. For every descent, I think I was DFL, because I am just that much of a chicken (although it's a mile long straight descent, it curves to the left somewhat in the middle, and when the road is wet, at 50+ mph, I experienced some extreme peristalsis each time). SO- that meant that the race would be determined on the final ascent up the access road-Sure enough, the big guns were up at the front, and they took off- I was about 30th going into the climb, and just kept passing guys, and almost catching a group of 7-8 right at the end- POOPY! Had I placed myself further up, I think I could have attained a top 10 placing. In the end, I got 18th, moving me up to 27th overall. Jody and Brian stuck it out until the last ascent to Princeton, where they got split, but made it up handily. As expected, it was Aspholm, McCormack, and Tom Francis (good for him!) on the podium.

Circuit race-OK- I had no aspirations to flash my 27th to first in a circuit race which is blazingly fast with a KOM point sprint on every other lap- BUT-the leaders are all watching each other- I was hoping for what I call the anonymous getaway-grab a group of strong non-contenders with me in a break, and hope for the best. In fact, in the first lap, I found Matt Kressy and told him my plan. With 3 to go, (not a sprint lap), I peeled off the front, and at the top of the climb, I found Matt with me...but NO ONE ELSE! Oh God, I thought- this will be painful-we made it up to the next climb with a 10 second gap, and argued with each other that the other should take the points (I let Matt take it, he pulled more!), and then Troy Kimball caught us, and SAT UP! Well that was it, so it turned out to be a field finish- I have no idea where I finished, but it was in the middle. It was one of those races where at the end of the climb, you look back to see that the pack has shrunken another 10 guys-I don't know how many finished in the end...

Has anyone noticed that I'm writing this BEFORE the crit? That's because I'm doing Wells Ave. tomorrow! That's right- Explain to me why I should drive another hour there and back to do a roller-derby crashfest of a course so that I can preserve my 27th GC place? Thank you. In the end, although I wasn't a contender overall, I performed better than any other Fitchburg of past, so I got that going for me. Also, I got to meet Lizette from the women's 3 squad, que estaba bueno, por que ahora tengo una otra personna quien puedo hablar en espanol. Que suerte!

Cheers- Marvin