Living in Boston, MA for the time being… although originally from Virginia.
Day 1 Circuit Race-
I remembered this race very well from last year. I remembered where the roads narrow, where the pack ramps up for the KOM, I remembered the KOM hill being harder than it was, the steep decent, the false flat where the attack would happen, and the glorious glorious down hill to the finish. I knew this was a sprinters race and that I’d have to ride smart in order to come away with a good result. What can i say, I felt comfortable throughout the race and played it like a fiddle. Hang in the pack, stay out of the wind and make sure you’re in a good position for the final sprint. I wasn’t going for points or anything, I just wanted a solid GC place, so on the second lap, approaching the final long descent to the finish, I found the wheel of Brittlee Bowman, who I know placed 5th in this exact race last year. Brittlee rides with an effortless fluidity earned from countless hours spent on a bike. I know she raced track bikes but even if I didn’t, one look at her legs would tell me that she’s seriously fast. Just the wheel I wanted to have as we hurtled ourselves down the hill at 40mph. Hugging the yellow line, we move up the left side of the field. At 1k to go the descent really drops and the field stretches. I’m off Brittlee’s wheel and get into an aero tuck to bomb the hill. My gamin says I hit 48mph. The road levels off a bit and the sprinters are at the front pushing the pace. There are maybe 15 or so riders ahead of me when the center line rule is lifted and we can spread across both lanes. At 45mph, I was already spinning out in my top gear so I just put my head down and went with it. Channeling my best boldsprint skills, I squeezed through a gap and held a steady line. I could barely see the line as we flew over it.
Pulling up at the stop sign a lot of the riders around me were commenting on how scary fast we were going. Truth be told, I thought it was awesome, and I was hardly out of breath since I was basically drafting the front line. All said and done, 11th place and I beat the woman who would go on to win the GC (that’s her in the yellow/orange kit directly to my right). Wee!
Day 3 Road Race-
Day 3 is a drastically different kind of race. My only real objective was to minimize personal suffering as much as possible. Day 3 is a long race, 62mi, with climbs positioned right at the start, half way through, and at the very end of the race. The climbs decide your fate and as long as you don’t get dropped all by yourself during either the 1st or 2nd climbs, it’s really just a matter of getting to the final climb with as much juice left in your legs as possible. First climb, no problem, long gradual descent spent dodging cracks in the road and hanging at the back flowed into the only sprint followed immediately by the 2nd climb(and the 1st KOM). I forgot to start my garmin at the beginning of the race which threw off my mileage and left me lagging as the field launched into the sprint. Too much energy burned catching back up put me in a bad way for the start of the climb. And since there were KOM points up for grabs, the front of the field did not take it easy. Ah well, so it goes. Find a rhythm to your breathing, stay on top of your pedals and keep your head up. 6 of us came together to chase. I felt pretty good through all the climbing leading up to the KOM and feed zone. There was a gravel hill and a hard packed descent. One rider dropped her chain, more descending. At one point an official car said we were 2mins behind the field. I was perfectly content to pace line it to the base of the final climb and let it all fall where it would. There were a few motivated riders in the chase however, who seemed to want to really push and I guess try to catch back on. It didn’t make a ton of sense to me since we’d use a bunch of energy to catch back on, only to be spit out the back again when the field went for the remaining KOM points on the final climb. Ah well, I’d rather do work in a fast pace line than solo TT, that’s just how it goes sometimes. We kept the pace line cruising until we hit bumper to bumper traffic. The field was ahead. When we finally caught sight of them there was no choice but work hard and catch. And we did catch them. With about 2 miles to go before the climb. Alas, my legs felt creaky and I knew any hopes i’d had of climbing my way up a few spots in the GC were toast. Everything from that point on was pretty simple: suffer and sweat. Punctuated only briefly by Sean, Ted and Julia screaming their faces off. Love the enthusiasm guys, give me a push next time though?
I ended up 26th on the day and 25th overall in the GC. Still more work to be done, but I’m satisfied.