Capital Region Road Race. That’s right, road race. That means we’ll go uphill, and hills are my nemesis. On paper, this race shouldn’t suit a cyclist like me. There are a solid amount of hills and super punchy drawn out spots, with a gut busting finish that crests about 50 meters over a series of 4 pretty steep kickers, totaling about 1k long. However the other half of the course is gently rolling terrain and wide-open flatter roads. Theoretically, if I could somehow survive all the uphill madness, I had a shot. Three times, that is. The course is a 20+ mile loop, which meant I had to survive the hurt in the hills again and again and again.
The morning started early for me – I was up at 2:30 AM. My plan was to ride to the race in Central Park from Darien, CT (about 40 miles), then treat the race like a hard training ride. I wanted to work for our sprinter, Greg, as much I as could because he’s been hot lately. My teammates, Justin and Chris, were also going to be racing, and they each have the ability, fitness, and talent to get on the podium at Central Park. I just wanted to get some tough miles in and support my team. I had no intention of trying to win, it just turned out that way.
It was a bizarre scene as I approached the finish line of the Hollenbecks Spring Classic in upstate NY. I was alone, and there were a lot of spectators at the top of the final climb, many of them clapping and shouting words of encouragement to me. I heard things like, “You’re almost there!”, and, “Keep going!” But it was the tone of their voices that threw me. It was like they pitied me.
When I finally did cross the line, there wasn’t much fanfare. In fact, there wasn’t much of a response from anyone except my dad. He EXPLODED and said that I was the sickest rider he knew. That made me proud.
About three minutes later, the peloton came into view, and the crowd went CRAZY as they witnessed an epic sprint for the line – for second place. Apparently, my dad, some members of my family, and a few race officials were the only ones that knew that, just a few minutes prior, I had won the race.
I did the C race on Saturday (Cat 4/5, 36 miles) and finished 8th. Didn’t make the winning break of seven riders, but—thanks to Deluco and Grippo—I won my field sprint.
Lorenzo, Chris, and I did a couple laps of the short course before the race, and they were kind enough to offer lots of pointers. Three of which I remember vividly: (i) “In this race, nothing good happens at the back,” (ii) “Wait on the sprint…guys will jump too early and you have to trust that everyone else will turn to mud in the last 100m,” and (iii) “You want to stay to the right during the sprint.”
Spring arrived in Coxsackie, New York on Saturday just in time for the second of three Trooper Brinkerhoff Memorial road races. With the sun shining, and little wind at the start, week two proved to be worlds different than the prior Saturday, which featured blustery winds and temps in the 30′s. Also unlike last weekend (and much of March), I was in this race alone. It being Easter weekend, many of my teammates had full family schedules. I would be doing the Cat 3/4 race as a solo effort.
The race started with an eerily calm neutral roll out, and a smooth transition to the race course. We would be racing four 12-mile circuits on the rolling (and sometimes windy) course, but guys were immediately rolling off the front, trying to create space up the road. I sat in towards the front of the field and watched the moves happen, and had convinced myself that anything that got away this early was destined to fail. I was confident that my game plan of waiting and riding along for the first half of the race, then attacking and getting away during the second half was going to work. As it turns out, my instincts were wrong.
Here we go. The race this past Sunday was in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, at 6:45 AM. Starting this early is borderline insanity, so I left my house on Saturday night and headed south to stay the night at my teammate Chris DeLuco’s house. On Sunday morning, the alarm clock went off 4:30 AM. Ugh. Chris and I ate a quick breakfast, got dressed, loaded the car, and went to pick up another teammate, Justin Tyberg, at 5:15 AM. He was on a tight schedule, and squeezing the race in before his daughter’s swim meet.
The three of us headed into the city before dawn, we discussed a little race strategy. I was still upset about the way Johnny Cake #1 ended up for me the day prior, and knew I was going to ride angry this morning. We arrived at the park, unloaded the bikes and gear in the frigid air (temps were in the low 30′s) on Flatbush Avenue, and pedaled slowly over to registration. We pinned our race numbers on with shaking hands. As I shivered putting on my jersey, DeLuco pointed out to me that my number was upside down. That’s what happens when you pin numbers on in the dark. Wonderful start to the day. I eventually straightened that out, still shivering, and finally went for about a 5-10 min warm-up.
Bethel P/1/2/3 – March 17th 2013
At the start line, I assessed the situation and tried to determine who was racing. This was going to be my first race at Bethel this season, and I felt fortunate to be able to be here at all (kids, family, etc). I also had done a long training ride earlier that morning, so I was feeling really lucky to get some race miles in too.
I was hanging out with my teammates, Dorsch and Tyberg, and a couple friends from the FusionThink team when we lined up. As we all shook and shivered in the 40 degree temps, I asked about Rob Marcinko, because I know he’s both super strong and smart. My buddy Brian Zeroff pointed him out to me, and I made a mental note: if he goes off the front, go with him, because he always makes the break work. Rob is smart, Blaine is not…stay with the smart people.
The first thing I noticed about Blaine as he walked over to me was his fluorescent green shoes. These were not his cycling shoes, mind you, but laceless sneaker thingies, and they were bright. I just smiled, because if there’s anyone that can back up the bling, it’s Blaine.
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