Sunday, July 26, 2009

Norwell Circuit Race

This is a great little race. Some grades, some punchy climbs, and a rolling closure that allows us to use the whole road. Kudos to MBRC for this one!

So last year with a similar field I sat back and waited for something to go up the road, finally it did late and I bridged up and was able to work over the other 2 guys for a nice win.

I figured they'd think I'd do that again, so I attacked hard before the first lap was over. Got a huge gap, but also no mates. Got caught a lap later. Marky Mac countered with his entire team on his wheel along with several others. I sat back and recovered. It was pretty much every strong rider up there so it was imperative that I get there.

On the big downhill I dropped it into the 11 and crushed it. Got there. Some looking around ensued. I attacked again at the finish climb. No legs this time. I wonder why?

Several lame attacks followed that never got any real gap.

At about 5 or 6 to go Mark Gunsalis, well known good guy from Fuji attacked. I followed since I needed to be in with a Fuji rider for any chance at all. I got to him and gave him a small push forward to keep him motoring while I took a second to recover, then I pulled through. Near the finish climb I looked back and all the usual wheel suckers were in place.

I was pretty tapped and figured I'd better keep my speed up in order to respond to the inevitable counter attack. I was on the front and kept a good tempo and waited for the move to come. 200 meters to go, nothing, 100 meters....nothing. I looked back and I had a big gap. Really???

I looked back again after I drilled it over the top, having seen the opportunity. Marky Mac was coming alone. I pulled for a while and was flicking my elbow for some help. Mark came through, but I think he wanted one of his other guys to get there, so it wasn't everything he had. But hey, he was helping and that was all I needed to continue. We gapped them pretty good and I was doing the majority of the work, but Mark is the smartest racer around so I just figured even 2nd place is pretty good. Better than letting the spineless sprinters have a crack at it anyway.

At 2 to go I attacked Mark on the finish climb, but guess what? He covered it. I seriously think the highest compliment you can pay a rider of that stature is to attack him. I've never been big on hero or taking.

So having attacked and not getting a gap, it was now my job to drive it for the last 2 laps where Mark would then blow my tired doors off in the final kick. Thats fine, I knew this before I attacked, but I was gonna keep making him suffer if I possibly could. he he he

With a lap and a 1/3 to go I flatted my front tire. AWESOME! I limped it up the grade as the last little breath of air left my tire, and Mark was nice enough to try to get the people at the line to have a wheel waiting for me when I got there. Have you ever seen 5 lumps on a log? Thats what I saw when I came through. But I think they did radio Mark in the wheel car and he was behind the field, the field has the whole road remember.

So anyway I saw him coming and put my hand up as he pulled up behind me. I had the wheel off and he did an awesome wheel change and gave me a my teamate Sam Morse flew by 5 seconds up on the field. I was caught instantly as I wasn't up to speed. Mark G was on the front trying to bring back Sammy, but Sam was burying himself 100% committed. He Made it!!! By about 2 feet. I received a nice chop from old friend Leo Devallian just before the last corner, Thanks Leo. I gave the sprint a try and was right on Leo and Billy Y when the wheels came off at about 100 yards to go.

I hate bike racing.

I love bike racing.

Sammy saved it for the team. Atta boy Sammy!

Kevin raced up in VT this weekend at Mt. Snow. He won the hill climb on Saturday. He won the cyclocross race Saturday afternoon. And he finished 2nd in the cross country PRO race today. Great work Kev!

Thats it, JB

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fitchburg Stage Race

Fitchburg is always a tough choice for me. It has an opening stage Time Trial which I love and it offers an opportunity to gain a prestigious leader's jersey. The goal is to get it and hold it all the way to the end. In 2007 I came the closest I've ever come by finishing 7 seconds back on GC to Roger A. A last lap attempt to steal the crit from the sprinters and the 10 second time bonus that would have won me the overall fell just 40 - 50 feet short.

I've been turning pretty good TTs in training and I have my weight down to my lowest in years, but still 175 lbs. is a far cry from the 135 pounders (and less) that I'll be battling with in the hills.

The drive up to the TT was a complete torrential downpour. The kind of rain that usually only lasts a few minutes, but I drove in it for well more than an hour. The rain let up as I got there and got my #s at the hotel. I pinned up and did a nice warm up on the road with good pal Sammy. When we finished, we were both wearing game faces, and I told him to meet me on the podium.

The conditions were ideal. Cool temps, wet roads but not raining, and a pretty steady breeze. I drilled it and felt strong. Turns out I was strongest and won the TT by 24 seconds over former Saturn PRO rider, Chris Fisher. Roger slotted in 4th, 54seconds back, Sammy was 5th at 1 minute. That was painful as all hell, and a huge load was now off my shoulders.....replaced by a snazzy new leader's jersey with the classic Longso logo emblazened across the front of it.

The circuit race is one of the resons I sometimes decide not to race Fitchburg. I hate it. It's always dangerous, and full of crashes and ambulances. This year was no different. Actually it was different....the road condition has deteriorated badly making the back stretch in the woods a horrible section of potholes and bumpy, sloppy cold patches. The road lends itself to swarming at the bottom of the hill leading into the last corner. The climb is a little beast and the sprinters wage war every other lap. This stage needs to be replaced with something else. On the last lap it swarmed at the run in as described and I went from being in a good spot to have a run up the hill to slamming on the brakes and hoping not to hit the deck. I didn't crash, but watched Chris Fisher who caused the mayhem with a very sketchy chop of the entire field, sprint up the hill with a lot of snap in his legs and take the stage win as well as the 10 second bonus. My lead was now 14 seconds. Crap!

This is gonna hurt! I knew the road race was gonna be harder than usual for me, because Roger needed a lot of time and Fisher wanted the jersey ASAP. I was willing to fight for it and got a light warm up in before hitting the line. The call up as the leader at Fitchburg in the Mt. Wachussett parking lot is sweet. I want to have it in the crit some day!

The 1st lap would be civil right? Wrong! The pace was brisk right around to Princeton where Roger and Fisher put the pressure on, on the wall leading up to the right hander. I was right there and so were lots of the big sprinters looking for points 100 yds up the road. They surged and I let it go as I was pretty pinned as it was, but Chris and Roger surged with them. I thought "ut oh", but I also figured it was way too early to go any deeper than this. Richard Fries annonced to all that I was gapped off from the leaders and when the sprinters sat up after the line there was a lot of real estate between the 4 leader's and myself. Whats worse was that Roger had a teammate (3rd place overall David Friefelder), and Fisher had a teammate too. How could I let this happen so early? well I didn't let it happen, they came out and killed it and put me into difficulty. Long story short, Friefelder got dropped after a lap while we chased our brains out. The other 3 rode like the class of the field, which they were, and CREAMED us. I owe a big thanks to lots of guys that helped in an effort to bring them back especially during laps 2 & 3. My teammates, Sammy, John Mosher, and Ronny Jacobs. George Opria who absolutely sacrificed himself and dnf'ed as a result. Patrick Ruanne, and his teammate Bruce Diehl, Eric Marro, Doug Thompson, Fabio Pergentilli and more. Even though we never got back we tried as best we could and I'd be happy to buy any of you guys a beer or two.

Of course a few guys sat on the chase the whole time, Ed Beamon, Paul Richard and Dzimity Buben being the biggest offenders. That was smart on their part I suppose.....whatever!

At the end of the day we lost about 10 minutes. We had been neautralized multiple times and later learned that the break never was, but it didn't matter. Our 70 man field was down to about 25 at the end of the race in the main group with 3 up the road. Lots of attrition! Everyone thought it would be so great to do the road race without having to go up the mountain.....Ya Right! Hardest Fitchburg road race I ever did!!! Roger took it with Fisher grabbing the jersey and his teammate (Andreas Gil from Stckton CA) taking the green jersey and 3rd overall on GC.

The crit is mostly a parade. I threw down a serious attack about 3 laps into it as I was feeling full of piss & vinegar. I was hoping for a couple strongmen to join me, but my jump caught them all off guard and I had a nice big gap, but no mates. I drilled it TT style for 3-1/2 - 4 laps hoping someone would bridge, but it wasn't to be. That was painful, but I figured I owed it to myself. The whole field caught me and then they threw up a $150 preme. I never understand why they offer more prize money for 1 lap of a crit than the overall GC. It's kind of lame. Maybe have 3 premes at $50 apiece and keep the action going for the whole race. Anyway, Patrick Ruanne killed it and took the $150. That made me happy after what he did on Saturday. The last lap was too fast to attack, so I surfed up to the front. On the back stretch, I was in a good spot when it slowed down again. I wasn't gonna see a redo of the circuit race, so I surged into the corner 1st, Chris Fisher was on my wheel. I knew I wouldn't win from here, but with Chris on my wheel he was gonna be dropped off in the wind and one of the other guys that I owe a favor could come around him. We (Corner Cycle) really lack a race winning sprinter, so it was about the best way I could spend my energy. Turns out it was old friend Troy Kimball that had just enough to get around Fisher after I pulled it as far as I could. At least I kept it fast and safe through the corners and onto the finishing straight.

Another Fitchburg in the books. One stage win and 4th overall. Not bad in this field. Stressful race though. I'll see you guys at Pat's Peak for some no pressure mountain bike racing through the beautiful woods and ski trails. That'll be good for the head, then maybe a little break from the Mountain Bike Natz for me this year. I'm afraid of the altitude completely spoiling the trip, and I also fear USAC will screw it up, and I can't really afford it anyway.

Thats it for now, JB