Sunapee Race Report

A big win for the the team’s only representative at Sunapee, Daniel Nuzzo-Mueller. Here’s his report:

I was hesitant to go to this race. I mean Sunapee? Like a 2 hour drive to New Hampshire, for a race that starts at 9am? Not to mention I am such a neophyte in racing I hadn’t heard of it until last weekend when I was in a crappy mood from doing poorly at Sterling. Well enough heckling from my friends and a desire to redeem my poor performance at Sterling drove me to wake up at 5am on a Saturday and slog up there with one Cat 3 friend in my family’s minivan (Best bike transport vehicle EVER).

Not much to say other then a sunny beautiful day out. I mean 70 degrees and sunny? After this past New England winter (Rain, Rain, Snow, Hail, Freezing Rain, Sun, Rain, Snow, Blizzard in one damn week) it seemed quite impossible.

As is always my luck I found myself midpack for the start. Not exactly bad but it always means that I need to spend the first few minutes of the race making my way forward which can be tricky with these little four foot tall juniors bobbing around in the pack who begin to throw their bike around underneath them at the sight of a hill.

While Sterling was my first real disappointment and poor result this year it did teach me a lot.

  1. Don’t be cocky (Being in the Cat 3s is gonna help that)
  2. If the field has marked you then trying to attack again and again is really stupid. You may have more horsepower then most, but someone will be more then happy to turn themselves inside out to prevent you from getting a break.
  3. Let other people kill themselves FIRST.

So taking these lessons to heart I moved to near the front and sat and waited. Any time an attack went I resisted my first instinct to jump at it and I waited a few seconds to see what happened. Lo and behold most of the times someone would jump the gap and drag the whole pack up (Thank you little 4 foot tall leprechauns). I even goaded one guy into chasing down the beginings of a break. Wow I am becoming devious, like a real bike racer, now I just need to shave my legs…

Around mile 12 I started to see what I love. People accidentally rolling off the front. You know that little point when someone crests the hill and they end up getting maybe 10 feet away from the pack and they aren’t immediately shut down. The people at the front are less frantic, a little tired. That perfect little lull.

So I wait another 3 miles and then on a section of false flat I sensed it, the gap. Me and one other guy had accidentally rolled off the front, the pack didn’t sense us attacking so they thought we would just fold back in a few seconds later. This is my strength though, it was early with more then a lap to go but the earlier you pull something like this, the less threatening it seems.

So I hit it, the old seated acceleration and my break-mate came with me. From there it was a full lap of working together slowly putting time into the field, it was disheartening to see the field behind us as we went up climbs knowing they still had us in sight and a few times it felt like we should give up and gamble on a break later.

But when I get a break I don’t sit up, if you want to catch me you had better work. And that is what saved us. We rode together until the same spot where we started our break and then I looked back and saw that I had created another gap. I didn’t want this yet, I was confident that I could beat my break-mate up the finishing hill and I didn’t know how much time we had on the field. I decided I just needed to ride though so I rode those last 7 miles alone, tasting that pain and anguish from riding on the rivet all the way to the finish.

One thing I have learned it that no matter how certain you are that you have the win, that you can take it easy, that you can sit-up and slow roll. Until you can see the line you never leave the pain cave, never give an inch because you may need it at the line later. And hey I won a cool glass!

-Dan

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