Friday, July 3, 2009

Fitchburg Stages 1&2

Fitchburg is the beginning of my second big block of races. Since getting back from World's Qualifiers in Tennessee, I hadn't done much racing other than some practice crits and time trials and the Housatonic Hills Pro/1/2 road race where I came in 7th.

When I arrived at Toby's house this past wednesday, it was cold and pouring rain. Conditions didn't change much by thursday morning's time trial, when I was awoken by the sound of pounding rain and deafening lightning strikes. The fact that I was comfortably lying on a mattress was made even better by the knowledge that my family was tenting in a campground and probably swimming by now.

The time trial was happily uneventful and I came in 4th place. Nate won with an average speed of over 29mph, and the team took 3rd, 9th, and 12th places. The next day's stage was a fast circuit race of 22 miles featuring a hard 5oo meter hill. Before the race, I was informed by certain doubters that a breakaway was impossible on this course and had never succeeded. Most of our team got front row call ups for the start of the race, so we began with good position. Nothing much happened early on other than a short-lived breakaway of 5 riders that I tagged along with. Then my teammate Ian Boswell attacked and was holding a slim lead over the field. When Nathan Wilson, who was sitting top ten after the time trial, went to bridge across I covered the move and soon found myself in a three man group just off the front.

We rode hard but the pack was strung out and doing about 40mph down the wide slightly downhill back stretch of the course. They brought the gap down to about 5 seconds, and it looked like our little adventure off the front was done. But we kept hammering and the next time I looked back the gap had shot back up again. Another rider had bridged across while we were close to the pack so now we had 4 riders. We drove the break hard until the finish. Boswell took the win and I came in with the same time at 4th place. The pack came in nearly a minute down. Ian had also taken some points sprints so he had captured the green jersey. Nate Brown kept his leader's jersey behind, and I moved up to 2nd place in the overall.

Afterwords, we came back to watch the pro race. The thunderclouds that had been looming all day finally rolled in and the race took place under a deluge. A breakaway including Vermont boy Will Duggan and Cyclo-cross champion Tim Johnson held off a hard chasing pack to the finish. The pain on their faces gave me a good idea of what to expect in a couple years.

With two out of four stages completed, our team is in good position to take the lead all the way through the final stage. I'm also considering sending my family some snorkels to help with the camping in the flood water.

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