I’ve raced the Purgatory course enough times that I didn’t need directions to get there. It’s my second favorite course after Battenkill, but taking into account the work that GLV puts in to make the race happen like total clockwork (nobody on their GIGANTIC team is allowed to race except the women, who are still awesome enough to do lots of race day duties), it’s easily my favorite, and the only race this year where I really wanted to do well.
Purgatory is a rolling 11 mile loop punctuated by Lackey Road, aka the Climb That Probably Keeps Field Sizes Down. Let’s consider the previous week’s climb at Ken Harrod in Harvard (80 starters) where you fight gravity on Oak Hill and beyond for a pacey 3 miles, then you throw elbows setting up for a sprint doing 50+mph downhill while trying to soil your bibshorts as casually as possible.
Purgatory (45 starters) only requires that you climb for a paltry 2 minutes up Lackey. MERCIFUL, RIGHT?
Lackey Road looms so large over this course I spent the first half lap on the front, pedaling like I had glass cranks, and nobody protested. A lone rider went clear from about 10 wheels back and clearly didn’t invite anybody to his party. After the first lap we heard he had a gap of over 2 minutes. Around the start of lap 3 he was back. Sorry I just described a chase scene so boring that it would have been cut out of Empire.
Lights, camera, bike racing.
Bell lap: Lincoln rode up and said he was lucky to have made it, was there anything he could do for me? Sure, I’ve always wanted a domestique! “Ride a good tempo on the front and chase anything that moves.” Despite having barely made it back on, he did 15 minutes on the front and pulled back five attacks, or the equivalent of doing a long threshold interval with accelerations AFTER 2 HOURS OF RACING. After Lincoln’s tank was beyond empty, a TSS rider got clear and I pulled back one chase group, but other than TSS flyer (spoiler alert: we caught him on the hill) we were all together and nervously approaching Lackey Road.
NEBC, Downeast, and ECV went clear. Not wanting to be EXCITABLE PUPPY and have my legs melt too early, I paced myself well enough to catch ECV just as the road flattened out and I caught a draft long enough to recover for a sprint. He had no idea I was there, not freewheeling, for I am stealthy bike ninja who steals podium spots.