I made the drive out to East Hartwick, CT on Sunday and lined up for the Tokeneke road race with Brendan in the 3s. It was a strong field, with lots of former and current rivals, including others who finished near me in the hilly 4’s races this spring and upgraded at the same time. We were set to do 3 laps of the hilly 22 mile loop for a total of 66 miles. I loaded up on food, and counted on the always excellent neutral Bonk! support for hydration midway through.
The first lap and a half was a pretty steady grind. Nothing easy, but also not particularly surgey, without threatening attacks. Somewhere early in the third lap, a large and sprinter-looking gentleman who had already attacked several times took off, and this time we let him get a bit of a gap. A KMS kid joined him. Everyone was tired and wanted someone else to chase. The gap grew. We did a little rotating, largely at the admirable direction (and vocal encouragement) of Smith from GLV. This chase led to so some serious attrition in the field, whittling the group down from 54 starters to maybe a field of 25. I helped out in the chase a bit, if for no other reason than to gain a little respect from my newfound brethren in the 3s. Plus, who really wants to race for 3rd?
The final climb was a 2.2 mile grind averaging about 5%. Initially nobody attacked, but we kept the pace high and whittled it down to a group of maybe 15. About halfway up the climb a couple folks upped the pace. I did my best to hold on, but watched what remained of the field slowly roll away from me. The two off the front would end up staying away (both of which now have plenty of points to upgrade to the 2s – I don’t want to see them at GMSR). In the chase group, 2 other attackers took 3rd and 4th, about 5 seconds ahead of the group. I rolled in 19 seconds later for 11th. I wish I could have done better – I tasted the potential for a podium in my first cat 3 race – but I can’t really complain. It was a great course, and I will certainly go back next year. [Strava]
I suspect one limiting factor over the long hot day may have been hydration. I downed 3 bottles over the course of the 66 miles and could probably have used a fourth. The feed zone was awkwardly placed so it was hard to grab a bottle the first lap, and too close to the finish to grab one on the last lap. Back to carrying something in a jersey pocket next race.