Well like always, Green Mountain Stage Race takes a lot out of me, both before and after, but what a great race. I saw Fitchburg scaled back to a one day crit. I hope that doesn't happen to GMSR.
So Cross season is here and in full swing. It's the eve of the biggest race in this country with the exception of Natz, but with Natz being on a revolving location/venue format, I'd have to say the best race you could ever win is "Glahstah".
The PROs are exciting to watch thats for sure, but this is a place where the gray haired old farts come to read about "their" races. In the 35+ race over recent history winners have included Jim Brown, Rich Maile (3), John Verheul, Richard Feldman, Roger Aspholm, Mark McCormack, Chris Peck (2), Jonny Bold (4), and Kevin Hines. Thats quite the list, I'd LOVE to add #5. At the moment it's pouring out and thats good for me, so we'll see how soggy old Stage Fort Park is in the morning.
But lets back up. The season started at Quad Cross 3 weeks ago. Deep field for a local race as everyone needed a tune up before heading to the first Verge races in VT a week later. I separated early on, but there was a certain "Mark the Shark" lurking
in the early laps and while he was skilled enough to ride the sandy corner, I wasn't. He brought me back and then later attacked in the same place, sucessfully gapping me off with 2 to go and held it all the way to the line. A good rust shaker, now it was time for the real deal.
So just 2 weeks after being just south of Canada for GMSR we were back for the Catamount Race Weekend. The first stop on the 2010 Verge New England Series. Kevin was fresh off a silver medal performance in the Master's World Mountain Bike Championships in Brazil. He would be strong, and Roger.......well, he's Roger, and VT is pretty hilly. He was also fresh off of winning US Master's Road Natz, and a trip to Austria for Master's Road World Championships, as well as a little R&R.
Long story short. Roger killed us. Over a minute on Saturday to Kevin in 2nd and a little more on me in 3rd. Sunday it was deja vu. Kev stayed closer, while I faded, and a very strong Kurt Perham hung onto Kev's wheel until half way through the last lap. He clinched 3rd while I hung on to 4th. Kev is 20 points off the series lead and I'm 35 back. Ouch!
Last weekend Kevin and I raced Adam's new race at Loon Mt. It was tough and technical, and heavy with lots of climbing. After a so so start I took to the front and turned it up. I earned a gap over Rob Hult and Kevin and kept checking it often. Pretty soon Kev detached from Rob and so I waited a little on one of the long paved sections. When he got on I started drilling it again. We were hoping for a nice 2 man show in our flashy new National Champ's Kits, but in the next technical section I put a little gap on Kev. OK, that just doesn't happen. He's way better at cornering than me. I though he might have just made a small mistake, but it turns out he was just on a bad day. So I just rode. After a while Rob went back by Kev and all of a sudden I started to feel horrible. The climbs started to really slow me down and I pretty much cracked. Rob tasted blood and came back from a healthy deficit to overtake me and win going away.
After the race, Kev and I were starved to death and we realized we didn't do such a good job of feuling up for the 3 o'clock race. Not to take anything away from Rob. He rode great! But we learned a little something about the late afternoon start. Good thing too, because our race the next day was at 2:30 in the Elite Race at Sucker Brook Cross.
We had an actual lunch this time and felt a lot better racing. Not a lot of guys on the pre reg list, but at the line we had 4 Corner Cycle Riders, (me, Kev, Jamie, and Bill) plus Synjen on the Bay Hill, CL Noonan, Corner Cycle Squad and also Nate Morse on the same team. Dylan Mcnicholas, Al Donahue, Josh Dillon, Josh Leahman, Brian Wilichoski, Chandler Delinks and more were all on the line. Good field.
First lap was fast as expected and extremely dusty. Theres a great sand pit feature near the end of the lap and that thinned things down a little. I was near the front with Dylan and the next time through the sand I led in. I rode it and gapped the field a bit which was already pretty strung out. Dylan closed the gap back up to me over the paved start/finish area and as we went into the serpentine sections on the fields I said "let's just work this thing together". He was cool with that and we worked hard like teamates to get away from a few guys nipping at our heels.
We stretched it out pretty well over the next 4 laps and it looked at that point like the group behind (Al, Josh Dillon and Kev) were racing each other. We had a solid 35-45 second lead I'd guess. With about 3 to go Dylan ran the small stair section really well and also remounted very fast, with a solid click in of the pedals he attacked hard down to the grassy, loose dirt 180 degree turn. I fought to limit the damage, but he slowly pulled away. That was just about the 45 minute mark of the race which is what I'm used to racing and he also was simply stronger and had another gear. He put a solid gap into me over the next 2-1/2 laps to easily win. I was very satisfied with 2nd. Al Donahue attacked late to gap off the others and finish out the podium in 3rd.
Highlights of the day were Solobreak dropping by while we warmed up and entertained us with some hilarious cheers/heckles. Also a nice surprise were the podium girls!
The course was the best yet at Sucker Brook in my opinion. Jack Chapman and crew do such a great job at this race. I look at it as a sort of "Canton North". With so many big races around it's nice to see one with this vibe.
That brings us up to speed for now. Hopefully I'll have something worthwhile to say after G-Star.
Thanks for stopping by, JB