ECCC Conference Championships 4/5 Rhode Race Report (April 27th, 2014)

by John Moore
40 degrees and rain.  The forecast didn’t change all week, so on Friday night I packed all my wet weather gear and prepared to drop my tire pressures.  Scituate, RI is not a place you might expect a good long course, but it’s one of my favorites.  A 20-odd mile loop of rolling hills, fast descents, crosswind, rain, and dirt.  Sorry, did I say dirt?  Mud.  It was mud.

Pat, Brendan and I lined up with 27 other guys in the Scituate Middle School parking lot, which was overrun by energetic college students for the ECCC championships.  This year the organizers were kind enough to host a couple USAC races.

The field started off briskly, but the first few rollers killed everyone else’s good mood, while I stayed chatty to whittle down their morale.  As usual I let myself drift to the back.  No use fighting for position when every attack gets chased down and guys will fight you for 20th wheel.  Then we hit the mud.  It was a well trafficked section, so not as loose as Battenkill’s slop, but we took our very sweet time picking our way through the potholes, rocks, and ruts.  The rest of the lap went by without incident.

hay

Brendan thinking positive thoughts.

On to the second lap it got interesting.  The rain was coming down.  The strong riders were feisty.  The first real attack came from 545 Velo.  I said to let him dangle, but he was making headway so I went to the front to do… something.  Suddenly Brendan flew by me to bridge up.  “Come on,” and I went.  Up the next hill, we  passed 545, who was tuckered out, and then I was alone, climbing hard and making no progress.  I sat up and took a good spot near the front for…

The mud miles again.  What we had planned was for Brendan, our resident dirt expert, to hammer through and take a small group to the finish, but he was going backwards.  Having just that minute found my own love of all things muddy, I powered through and got psyched for the next mud section.  Recalling that the long winding road was coming up before dirt section two, I attacked in the saddle, wanting to go into the mud at the front, and hopefully form a breakaway, which I did, and which was chased down promptly.  Maybe if I hadn’t been advertising my good form they’d have let us go.


pat

Pat also thinking positive thoughts.

This paragraph is about Pat.  Up one of the last rollers he attacked, and it was the first time I had seen actual panic from the other teams.  He had 20 bike lengths and it was going out by the time Green Line Velo started to chase.  It took a solid while to reel him in.  He sat in for a few miles, and then when he saw me on his wheel, he hit the front for the very last roller/false flat combo.  He just sat there and turned the screw, making sure nobody could attack, giving sprinters (me and Brendan) a chance to do well.  Worked like a charm, even if he did almost drop me.

The finish is like a crit: downhill, right hand turn, and 300m to the line. As the only one who knew the course (I’d raced collegiate last year),  I advised Brendan to get on my wheel and went wide outside into the last turn, carrying as much speed as I could, and opened up my sprint immediately.  The finish line surprised everyone else, so knowing I had a big gap I looked over my left shoulder and eased up a bit, ready to celebrate my first win…  I heard woosh woosh woosh from my right.  I hit the gas again but it was too late, I’d been passed at the line by a cat 5 sprinting on the hoods.  My power meter fritzed out for the second half of the race so I can’t give you numbers, suffice it to say that when a cat 5 catches and passes me for a sprint win, it’s very well deserved.  Just behind, Brendan was taking 5th place.
After the race it was great to see old friends and get warm neutral service hugs from race officials.  But best of all, we raced as a team in miserable conditions and we came out with blue-lipped smiles and good results.
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