To start let me say that this was the longest road race I have ever done. Not my longest ride, (That honor goes to the 200 on 100 that I did with my girlfriend, Anne) but it was the longest race I have ever done by about 15 miles. I was definitely nervous going into it.
The mood was pretty somber, Chad Young a former CCB rider, had crashed at the Tour of the Gila earlier this week and passed away the night before Quabbin. I know this hurt many of us in the local area, but I feel that there was a particular heaviness that fell on the shoulders of CCB, the team where Chad had really made his first mark on the racing scene. It was appropriate to have CCB lead us through neutral and onto the course. My condolences go out to Chad’s family and his friends both racers and non-racers alike. Chad, I never really knew you personally but you were an inspiration watching you race.
The beginning of the race was either going to go really easy, or really hard. It was the latter. Attacks went on every hill, with counters flying quickly after. Quabbin is a course that just punches you again and again, with each hill coming up to a false flat, then pitching up again. The field wasn’t about to let an early break go, with moves going off the front and then quickly being reeled back in. CCB was especially keen to make sure they had a person in anything that went, or else it was quickly brought back. Surprisingly the race kept together until right around mile 35 when John Harris (CCB) and Daniel Jeske (Chobani) managed to slide off the front during a lull. I had debated trying to jump to them, but my legs were fried from an earlier OTF foray I had tried and I had the feeling that none of the other big names would be willing to let me join them.
From there we rolled along at a more moderate pace, the two man moving gaining two minutes the last I had heard. I was not exactly content to just ride in the pack and wait though. I had a plan before the race, and I decided to execute it. During one of the uphill lulls I struck, jumping away with a pretty meager acceleration but that part of the course has always favored me getting away all the times I have raced it. And there I was riding as a solo bridge attempt with more than a lap to go. Right as I was finishing Lap 1 I looked back and saw a two man move was slowly making it’s way to me. It turns out it was Jonas Gustaffson from Rockstar and a Lupus rider (I forget his name). Well, this was good news for me, we now had a Lupus rider and a CCB rider up the road from the pack, which meant that the two largest teams there would not chase.
We continued on into the lap, working as effectively as possible, but we were tired and couldn’t all work an equal amount. Somewhere around mile 70, we came across Harris who had nothing left in the tank thanks to a stomach bug he caught earlier in the week. When he fell away from us I knew that things had taken a turn for the worse. CCB would be motivated to chase us again and we were completely dry, having seen no neutral water. We went on until we found Daniel about 15 miles later, who was also burnt from having spent so long on his own. Luckily for me, that meant we were the front of the race when we came around to the sprint point with the break agreeing to let me take first place. Later I found out, this was how I came to win the most aggressive rider Jersey for the series.
Around mile 95 I looked back and saw what I had feared, a 7 man move that contained not only 3 CCB riders but also Tim Ahearn, Eneas Freyre and Tim Mitchell. When they caught us I did everything I could to grab onto wheels with every ounce of strength I had left. Luckily this move prompted a moto official to arrive with water as the entire break pleaded with our lead official to get us water. I went through two bottles on the spot and finally felt my legs return a bit. I knew this would probably be the winning move and I could tell that everyone was tired. The few attacks that did fire didn’t have the same savage quality as the earlier ones and we stayed together for the final 10 miles of the race.
As we limped into the final climb up the park Tim Mitchell put himself on the front and simply drilled himself into dust with me sitting second wheel. I will always be impressed with Tim’s sheer strength and ability to withstand pain. He pulled us until the last mile of the race where he let out a scream that I have definitely done myself when I push to the limit. He left it up to Patrick Collins and Ansel Dickey to bring home the win for Chad. Tim Ahearn made the first move and I jumped onto it with everything I had left with Tim towing us to the last 200 meters to go where the “sprint” went. I just had nothing left and barely hung on for 6th out of the 7 of us left at that point.