Saturday, April 25, 2009

Masters Team Takes Win at Turtle Pond

A strong contingent of masters showed up for the Turtle Pond Road Race in Loudon, NH today. Present were Brett Rutledge, Steve Gauthier, Mike Harris, Kevin Young and myself (Doug Jansen). Lining up for the Masters 45+ race, there appeared to be far more riders than the 54 pre-registered, including a few contenders that didn't show on bikereg.

The course consists of five 11+ mile laps for about 56 miles of racing. There are two major climbs per lap. Oak Hill, the bigger of the two, was neutral starting the race. Pothole Hill was smaller, a punchy little bugger, about 3-4 miles out from the finish. The approach to the finish was predominantly downhill with a slight rise at the line.

Several teams had strong showings, including Gearworks, CCB, Corner Cycle, and especially OA/Cyclemania who had at least a dozen guys. The race was packed with attacks and break attempts. Blocking was well executed any time these teams sent somebody up the road. I managed to get into or bridge up to a couple of these breaks, but we were mercilessly reeled back in. Brett came around the blockers many times when IBC wasn't represented in the break away and other teams weren't willing to work. There were so many OA/Cyclemania guys that it was almost impossible to get around the blockers sometimes.

Going into this race, I thought my prospects were good for a podium finish. Spending a lot of time at the front of this race wore me down though. During the fourth lap, I was feeling rather cooked and discussed lead-out options for Gauthier. He's the sprinter in the group, and a climber weeny like myself wasn't getting away from this field. It always came back together. A bunch finish was imminent.

The one guy I planned to watch during the race was Paul Wonsavage (Onion River Sports). He snatched a win away from me at Bow a couple years ago. Tough as nails. He was climbing well today. On the last lap, Paul and I made our way to the front on Oak Hill. He started drilling it. Thus far, all of the Oak Hill efforts were tame in comparison. The pace Paul set this time was not tame. I struggled to hold his wheel and debated whether to let him go (ok, I almost had no choice in the matter). I crested with Paul and we had a several seconds gap. No words were necessary. We both knew what to do. Paul took some monster pulls on the descent. I also put my best effort into it. The rest of the IBC contingent knew what to do too. Brett and Kevin came to the front to disrupt chase efforts. Before Paul and I knew it, the field was no where in sight.

Continuing in time-trial mode, we worked very well together. But man, I was hurting. I'm sure I had drool and snot all over my face. Then we get to that Pothole Hill kicker. I gapped Paul but didn't mean too. I was pretty sure we still needed each other at this point, as it was 3-4 miles to the finish and I did not know how far back the chase group was. I let up slightly, but Paul wasn't getting back on as quickly as I would have liked. I decided to go it alone, head down, all-out hammer to the finish. On a long straight-away, I could see the pack. Yikes. Once I got to the small rise to the line, I was finally able to relax. I won with 17 seconds on Paul, who had 4 seconds on field. I was happy he made it too.

Steve did well in the field sprint, taking 6th place. Kevin, Brett and Mike also took respectable places in the bunch finish. So some fine teamwork brought us a win. This is significant given how well a few other teams were working together and by the shear number of OA/Cyclemania guys there. Nice job guys!

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