Here’s Lincoln’s report from Beverly:
Wednesday July 30 was a warm, sunny day, perfect for HOT NE crit racing. Community Bicycle racing was represented in the cat 4 race by Tod Gentry (who has since received his cat 3 upgrade) and myself. Tod took the ambitious route, opting to ride up to Beverly from Boston, while I drove up after talking the afternoon off from work. I got to Beverly about two hours before the start of the cat 4 race. This left plenty of time for a solid warmup and a bit of course recon. The course, reg. tent, pit area etc. were well organized, and pre-race preparations went smoothly.
The course is a fun, somewhat technical, flat 5-corner loop in Beverly center. The first corner is a very tight (sharper than 90 degree) right hander where the road narrows significantly. Shortly after the first corner, racers are presented with a 90 degree left turn, followed almost immediately by a 90 degree right that leads into a straightaway. Another sharp (but thankfully wide) right hander leads into the back straightaway, followed by a very slight ramp up into the last corner, a right, and into the short finishing straight.
Tod and I got to staging early, and we were able to secure spots in the front row. Unfortunately we got squeezed to the inside of the front row, meaning we would need to do some careful positioning into the first corner. Going into the first corner, I was able to get pretty decent position, and got through most of the first lap around 12th wheel. The first laps were fast. I held my own for the first few laps, managing to stay in the top 25 wheels without burning all that much energy. The course was very flat and fast, well suited for sprinters and crit specialists.
After the first few laps the field settled down. Tod and I were able to maintain good position, and the very sharp first corner was largely free of drama for the pointy end of the peloton. I maintained good position for the majority of the race, and started to get psyched for what was bound to be a fast last few laps followed by a bunch sprint.
Lo and behold, the pace picked up with about three laps to go. I was able to maintain my position in the top 15 or so riders with three to go. For the last two laps, I opened the “matchbox” allowing myself to push into the red to maintain the position that I wanted. The second to last lap was fast again, and I was working hard, but felt strong and was in good position. Shortly after we heard the bell for the final lap, we went into the sharp corner for the last time, and after that it was a hammer-fest. I was still in good position through corners two and three, and we opened it up for the back straight. I went into corner four in the top 15 or so wheels, planning to sprint for the last corner, and then again for the line. But it was not to be. A rider a couple of wheels in front of me went down. I didn’t need to hit the brakes, but at those speeds avoiding the crash was enough to cause a gap between me and the top 15 or so riders. I was able to surge back up, and found Tod’s wheel for a short fast pull to close the gap. But at that point it was too late. I was spent and out of position going into the last corner. I emptied the tanks and charged hard across the line. I took 22nd place, and Tod took 20th. Overall, The Grand Prix of Beverly 2014 Cat 4 race was a fun, exciting race, with my finishing position leaving a few places to be desired. I look forward to coming back next year to duke it out again with some of NE’s best cat 4s.