I admit, after seeing the course shapes of Worcester and Fitchburg, I wasn’t that interested in what I thought would be a “boring” 4 corner 80+ rider criterium. But, what made the course interesting were the roller coaster elevation changes with a nice rise up front, descent, then short little rise around one of the last corners. Weather was sunny and we had almost a full team lined up. I could tell because I could see the backs of their jerseys as I arrived just in time to be in the back, a stellar place for getting punished over the first few laps if not the entire thing.
Things started fine and luckily the first rise in the road eventually created opportunities to move up as people fanned out. The descent was fast and was also a great spot to move up, but had to temper that with the upcoming corner 20 guys were trying to squeeze into at once. Having found a home toward the front sooner than I had expected, it could’ve turned ugly quick- by the grace of some higher power and/or spidey senses I managed to avoid the 3 crashes of the day that all happened just a couple spots in front or to the side of me. The majority of them came on that uphill corner, which seems counter intuitive given how slow we were going up it, but probably makes sense given the change in speed plus the cornering required. Teammates managed to stay out of that garbage too which was great because not everyone could say that.
Last couple laps, maybe let a few too many dudes take spots ahead. By the last lap I saw too many bodies in front of me and tried that make that up. Alex Grabau from Boston Racing Independent made a nice move early before the 3rd(?) corner to take off for the win. Seemed like he caught everyone looking at each other at the right time but the rest of us pressed on to the finish. I knew I was too far back, but picked a kid up front and told myself to beat him at least. I didn’t, but I made up a few spots catching up, and it being who it was, prodded me to a 3-month 5 second power PR, and was actually my best sprint of the entire weekend.
I have a lot of feelings about Worcester. I went to school at Quinsigamond, spent a lot of time with friends at Becker, grew up a few times at the Palladium, and my mom sings at Mechanics Hall regularly with the Worcester Chorus. So knowing the area was settling amid a lot of uncertainty, in and out of racing. What I didn’t expect was the number and depth of pot holes on course, I think a lot of us couldn’t believe it. After a few laps though, they got “smaller” and easier to manage, like any other course feature. Also didn’t expect to be called up having landed a mere 6th yesterday- so sorry to Richard Fries if I strained your voice yelling for me several times while I was doing my pre-race thing of drowning out the world. By the way, how he announces 3 straight days of races so effectively is over my head- that’s got to be a ton of work and discipline.
As the lap cards came out, so did a 2 man break with Emerson of GLV and someone from CF Racing. I knew GLV had all the blocking skills in the world and that it was definitely advantageous to be in a break with them. Knowing that, I scooted up almost kind of looking to pounce up. I was on the in-side of the guy sitting second wheel just as the front man struck his pedal and he bobbled and slowed. I saw/heard it and barely thought before exploiting the pause to jump up the break. A quick look back to ensure a gap, mmk-check, and vroom. Verbally encouraged the 2 to work together to move us forward and it wasn’t too long before Zev Myerowitz Jr. of Downeast Racing joined us. Zev ended up being clutch because he apparently has a huge engine. Our pace was just a little too much for our CF friend so soon it was 3 drilling around the course, doing pretty well. All of a sudden I pull off the front and I see none other than Matt Gilbert of Ashton-Greycork/Middlebury College come around. Kid had bridged 2 laps by himself to join in the fun.
By 5 to go, it was really starting to hurt, but there’s really no choice; you’ve already written a check you need to cash. So whatever, we’re like 15 seconds up on the pack (out of sight out of mind/confusion/blocking-why I love being in breaks) and 1 lap to go comes up. I start riding like a goober, missing my pull, taking the spot I want in line, maybe tried a verbal distraction or two. I had wanted to hit the last corner first and drill it home, and I was set to do that being third wheel and being able to chop the corner, but my mistake was telegraphing it- Gilbert saw what I was doing and was ready to jump on my wheel when I took off. To be honest though, he probably didn’t need any kind of lead out from me and he came around for 1st as I ate my handle bars in disgust and joy for 2nd.
I was feeling pretty great about the weather. I like my rainy race bike set up and training in the rain makes it feel regular. By day three, started to feel the fatigue, but a good warm up (like the previous days) makes a big difference. The course consists of a long uphill drag on the front start/finish side, a wide sweeping corner, then a bumpy fast descent with some deep puddles into 2 90 degree corners. The long shape of it allowed for the pit to be accessible on both the front and back end, which proved amazing when I started to feel my rear tire giving out. It lasted a few laps before going out. SRAM neutral was great and got back in the next lap.
Name of the rest of the game was to stay up front and out of trouble as crashes kept going off. The front stretch was really starting to hurt and by the last lap I had to play that game with the pain where I try to ignore it for as long as possible, kind of like I did my to my homework in high school or anything else that may be bothering you. On the back descent, I once again found myself 3rd wheel sitting behind Matt Gilbert- I was just about frothing at the mouth either in pain or in anticipation for a win at that point. I think our CF friend from the previous day dug deep to pull for his CF buddy Sam Damphousse (3rd) until the last 2 corners and no one was coming up the sides. Gilbert took up the front from the last corner to the finish line, me behind him. My mistake here was maxing out my gear as we turned- it had worked at Keith Berger, but that was flat, and here I didn’t take into account the significant rise in the road. Matt powered on and I tried to “sprint” around him, but my cadence was like 85-90 and it just wasn’t very effective (see dramatization below). Not a terrible result and a pretty valuable lesson for next time.
Made up metric of the day: “Overall”, 2/28
So I’m a data analyst by day, and having no work today (transitioning jobs, buh-bye Boston, hello Berkshires), it would have felt weird to not write some Excel formulas. I took road-results from the 3 days and put results side by side for everyone. Filtered out the DNFs and folks who skipped one or more days and we get the following 3-day result-set with a sum of placings for the 3 days. So clearly, it’s an achievement to finish all three days healthy and upright if only about a quarter of the max field is doing so. See GLV representing nicely, and many other soon-to-be-2’s. Also see that Matt Gilbert pretty consistently whooped me this year, which is awesome, funny, and frustrating at the same time. And you know, as with any metric, this doesn’t tell the whole story of the battles, mishaps, successes, and failures everyone poured themselves into this weekend. I’m totally thankful to have had such a great three days with so many great and supportive friends and family. The Longsjo event was so effing well organized in my eyes, and it was awesome to see fellow MA natives getting into bike racing, even if we are a relatively quiet folk. I mean, having a conversation with with a guy my age walking down the street with a vaporizer, who’d never seen a bike race, in a Worcester alley while I’m the goof in lycra warming up on a loud spinney platform thing, and seeing him and his buddy get interested in spectating was pretty ill.
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Sum||Team|
|BrendanLonge||6||2||2||10||Community Bicycle Racing|
|MaxwellNagel||15||16||6||37||GREEN LINE VELO driven by Zipcar|
|StevenHopengarten||23||8||21||52||GREEN LINE VELO driven by Zipcar|
|SeanCasey||10||5||45||60||GREEN LINE VELO driven by Zipcar|
|StevenDe jongh||17||37||9||63||Golden Sports|
|JeremyCratty||21||43||8||72||Minuteman Road Club|
|PatrickCollins||11||28||47||86||Minuteman Road Club|
|StephenJette||61||20||7||88||Cannondale Sports New England|
|AlexanderGrabau||1||72||16||89||Boston Racing Independent|
|KylePenny||64||31||12||107||RHR p/b Shirks Bike Shop|
|NicholasTham ming qiang||56||26||28||110||MIT Cycling p/b FXDD|
|NateSievers||26||51||38||115||Atomic Energy Squad|
|KameronClayton||50||35||31||116||GREEN LINE VELO driven by Zipcar|
|DanielFitzgibbons||39||63||36||138||GREEN LINE VELO driven by Zipcar|
|AdamBernstein||47||61||32||140||GREEN LINE VELO driven by Zipcar|
|TravisDawson||63||36||43||142||GREEN LINE VELO driven by Zipcar|
|KyleButler||57||50||44||151||GREEN LINE VELO driven by Zipcar|
|GregoryColby||44||75||42||161||B2C2 p/b Boloco|
|JustinClark||70||49||51||170||State 9 Racing p/b Vittoria|
|MichaelMartin||62||73||41||176||B2C2 p/b Boloco|