This past weekend was MIT’s ECCC race weekend out near Mount Wachusett. I wasn’t able to get out for the crit on Sunday but I was able to go out for the road race and TTT on Saturday.
The day started out very early, leaving the house at 5 am to head down to MIT and pick up people and bikes to drive out to the venue. We were on our way roughly on time and made pretty good time out to Westminster. I got my race numbers, pinned them and got ready. First event of the morning was a team time trial so I headed out with my team to pre-ride the course as a warmup. As we warmed up, it was colder than I thought it would be so I was glad I had grabbed arm and leg warmers as I left the house. We mostly got into a groove and got back just in time to line up. A little bit of waiting later and we were off. Being on the new bike with a new pedal system, I was a little slow to get clipped in, but I don’t think I slowed us down too badly. We rode hard and I enjoyed it… final time for the 7 mile course was just under 18:30 giving us sixth place.
Then a cool down and stood around a little bit to wait for the road race. Did something of a warm up (aka climbed a few of the close hills) and lined up. Ended up standing lined up long enough that the warm up probably didn’t matter. The start was a neutral rollout with a large field (56 riders). As we went down the first hill, the sketchiness began — between the riders, the potholes and the oil slicks (!), it was a bit nuts. As the pace car pulled away, the field started to stretch a little. Still lots of sketchiness, plenty of disregard of the yellow line, and watching people moving into the other lane with cars coming in the other direction. I picked a semi-safe spot, but wasn’t really able to move up with the way the pack was working.
As we reached the fourth mile, we turned onto a road with a sign mentioning the Wachusett ski area. And at this point, the field blew apart as we began the climb. I was moving forward but the front of the pack had surged forward. I tried to bring along one of my teammates (Zach Y) but he was in pain so I kept moving. As I reached the top, I pulled together a small group and started urging them to work together so that we could catch however many people were in front of us. I didn’t know how many there were, but I knew working together was our best chance. To some extent, this was successful as a few of the people eventually fell into working with me in a pace line. And we caught up with some more people. But as we moved forward, the pace line began disintegrating. By the beginning of the second (of three) laps, it was largely to myself and one other guy working together. But we kept at it. Unfortunately, on the hill on the third lap, my left leg cramped in a major way. A combination of the heat and a lack of drinking much through the race were the probable causes. But in any case, I fell off my little group and limped my way up the climb. From that point, I basically soloed the rest of the course. As I came to the final finishing climb, I started to cramp again, but as an RIT guy who had originally been in my little group but not working much started to pass, I dug deep and sprinted for the line. End result of 33rd. Not what I had hoped for, but there were definitely some good parts from a learning perspective. Hopefully I can put some of them into practice soon, maybe even this weekend at Blue Hills.
After the race, changed and then got to work for my task of shuttling marshalls around to their posts. I was kind of glad to have a job that let me sit in the air conditioned car as the temperature was above 90 degrees at that point. Then, eventually back to Cambridge and then home.
A well run race weekend and a good chance to get out on the new bike and see how it performs. Answer is that I’m pretty happy with it. Now just to work on racing smarter and not missing when the front of the pack goes off rather than being towards the middle and falling behind.