2015 Arsenal Crit – Mens 3/4 & 1/2/3

Its been a while for me (Eric) but I’m back on the racing bandwagon and more importantly back to blogging!

Mens 3/4 race = 60min
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/376393021/analysis
Avg Speed: 26.2mph
Avg Power = 278w
Avg HR = 190bpm

Mens 1/2/3 race = 70min of which I only did a few laps
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/376393000/analysis
Avg Speed: 25.3mph
Avg Power = 286w
Avg HR = 188bpm

After a pizza filled evening at Taconelli’s celebrating I went home and purchased my 2015 license… I feel a bit ashamed to say it but I havnt raced a bike since the last post. Even worse I havnt blogged in that long either… ooof! So much to go back to and add to the blog. Anyways I decided with the help of Jack and Greg (arrow racings finest) that I should do some racing before crit season was over. I signed up for the Mens 3/4 and 1/2/3 races. My goal was to hang with the lead in the 3/4 and see how many laps I could do in the 1/2/3

I got down early to watch our Cadence kids do the Mens 5 race along with Stevie-Snax doing his first ever crit #roadie. Unfortunately they were a few crashes taking some of them out.

The 3/4 felt fast to me. I haven’t done speed work in a very long time so it makes sense. I did end up hanging out in the back more than I should but I also secretly wanted to work on some intervals for the upcoming cross season. I took a turn or two at the front but didn’t feel like I could make many moves with my current fitness so I sat back in towards the blunt end. I didn’t contenst the sprint but rolled though ~15-20 with the field starting with about 70-80people. Mission accomplished.

There was an hour between the 3/4 and the 1/2/3 and I slurped down a coke and walked around with my skin suit tied around my waist debating the next race. Jack #arrowiseverything talked me into racing and even gave me a bottle since I was all out. So I lined up and did what I knew not to do… started at the back and played that game. Obviously this isn’t a good move but I was tired and knew that I wasn’t hanging long and honestly didn’t ewant to me in anyones way. But as we all know once people start falling off the back you have to close down gap after gap. I only had a couple of these in me and I popped… oh well. I gave the tent the ‘im done sign’ and pulled off to slug a beer. It was fun jumping into my first 1/2/3 and Im looking forward to getting in the mix again.

1/2/3 solo break win

1/2/3 field spring

Next up is Nittany Cross :)

Pinecone Circuit race 3/4 recap – By Mike Bonner

The race was 6 laps of the 6.2 mile circuit, on which I ended up averaging 25.1mph.

It was a sketchy first lap; after turn one two guys got tangled up and shook everyone around them, but no one went down.

The next couple of laps were surge filled followed by lulls. Multiple attacks and breakaways jumped off of the front but none really stuck for long. At about lap three I found myself at the front with three riders off the front with a jump-able gap to cover. So I took my turn, then jumped off of the front, bridging up to the three leaders. When I reached the break I took my turns and we lasted for about a half a lap. We got swallowed up so I reverted back to my plan ‘A’ (sit at the back and conserve energy and sprint at the end).

I took a bad line on lap 5 through turn 2, which had a sand patch in the middle of the apex of the turn – my rear tire lost grip and I had to straighten up to avoid the curb and ride it out. Losing positions but not going down, I had to push hard to get back on. No real damage done – just a sketchy moment!

Coming around the last lap the group was all together until last years winner Brent jumped off the front somewhere after turn 2 and quickly had about 15 second lead on the group and held it to the finish. As Mark said turn 4 was crap and was impossible to take a confident line through it. My biggest item I need to work on in my racing is positioning leading up to the last turn. That being the case I was too far back but still managed to sprint through damn near the entire field to get 12th place.

Pinecone Circuit Race – Mens P123 Recap


49.7 miles, 348 feet, 25.6 mph average

Road season is slowing coming to an end, which means I’m getting a lot less picky about which events I race. The Pinecone course does not suit me. It is a pancake flat 6 mile, 4 corner course. As a result of the parcours it races much like a non-technical crit.

To add insult to injury, the timing of the 3/4 field was impossible for me, so I had to sign up for the P123 – 8 laps of the course or just a hair under 50 miles.

The race started with a few hot laps averaging around 27 MPH. Despite the pace the nature of the terrain made this pace feel pretty easy. I bridged to a few early attacks, but nothing seemed to be sticking.

After turn 1 of lap 4 a group of 8 went off the front while I was in a bad position in the middle of the group. We weren’t riding fast and they quickly got a reasonable gap.  After turn 2 a rider from Shirk’s tried to bridge and I closed to his wheel. Three other riders soon joined us and we had a chase group.

However, two of the new guys were surging, trying to shrink the group. The Shirk’s rider and I were having none of this and weren’t responding, so those two rode about 5 seconds in front of us for 3 miles, with the group of 8 a further 20 seconds ahead. By the time these two realized the error of their ways the lead had stretched to 30+ seconds. We now had a group of 5 working well, but we weren’t making many inroads to the group of 8 in front of us.

Part-way through lap 5 the race situation hadn’t changed much except that our gap to the main group had gone out to over a minute and another rider had bridged to our group, making us six strong. He and the Shirk’s rider were clearly the strongest and were doing the majority of the work. Realizing this the newcomer attacked out of the group (dragging another rider with him) and quickly distanced our little group.

I was hurting pretty badly by this point, having been on the break for 15 miles and made no effort to go with them. The remaining four of us worked for the rest of lap 6 before the Shirk’s rider did the smart thing and dropped his three passengers.

I later found out that the first two to move forward out of our group bridged to the leaders, while the Shirk’s rider finished about a minute in front of the main group.

We now had two laps to go with three tired riders. All thoughts were on whether or not we could stay ahead of the 30 strong group behind us. One rider was regularly skipping pulls from fatigue while me and the other guy were struggling to keep the pace above 23. The gap to the main group was shrinking pretty quickly, and we entered the last lap with a much smaller gap.

Coming out of turn three the gap was incredibly small, and the two of us with any energy left completely buried ourselves. I had nothing left in my legs and was in pure survival mode, but all three of us (me in second) crossed the line two seconds in front of the winner of the pack sprint. In case you lost count, second place in this group of three was good for 13th place overall, the second cat-3.

Really hot, humid conditions today. I raced with two bottles and probably could’ve drank four. I did not go out planning on working this hard on such an easy course. Only real regret I have this time out is poor positioning when the break went, I could’ve covered it easily if I wasn’t trapped in the middle of the group. Other notes about the course would be that turn four is a nightmare. I’m really glad I wasn’t in a pack sprint for it – really bad road conditions

Tour de Millersburg – Mens Cat-3 Recap


Tour de Millersburg is a three event omnium stage race in Millersburg, PA (about 35 minutes north of Harrisburg). Saturday morning is a flat 9 mile TT, Saturday afternoon is a four corner crit, and Sunday morning is a 56 mile road race

Stage 0 – Getting there

Millersburg is a solid 2 hour drive from my house in Royesrford, so staying at home is off the table. Luckily former Sunnybrook racer Greg Sherrick has a family home about 30 minutes outside of town and was kind enough to offer to let me stay with him for a second year.

After a quick stop at Rob’s house to borrow a skinsuit for the TT (thanks again Rob!!) I was off to Millersburg for number pickup and then over to Greg’s to spend the night. Restless nights sleep, with an early start led to bad feelings going into both races


Stage 1 – TT

8.5 miles, 85 feet, 27.5 average

The course was shortened this year due to some safety concerns with last years course (unclear what these were), but was otherwise unchanged. Very flat out and back course with several false flats, but not much in the way of challenging terrain.

As this was my first race on my new Trek Speed Concept I was glad for the simplicity of the course and was able to just put my head down and pedal most of the course.

I finished 40 seconds off the leader in 7th place in the cat-3 field and had enough left in the tank that I felt I could’ve easily finished a few places higher with some more TT experience. Maybe next season


Stage 2 – Crit

16.2 miles, 853 feet, 25.6 average

The TdM crit is a short course of about 0.7 miles with four 90 degree corners. Corner 1 is very tight and basically has to be done single file. Corner 2 is wider but with worse pavement. Corner 3 is at the bottom of the hill and is dangerous when people bomb through it in an attempt to carry momentum up the hill. Corner 4 is at the top of the climb with no issues. Because of the steepness of the climb only the short 0.15 mile corner 3-4 section is uphill and the rest of the course is flat to downhill.

I was feeling pretty crummy at the start, and despite getting a call-up wasn’t too optimistic about my chances in a crit that I remembered being absolutely miserable in 2014.

As with last year this crit course is essentially a war of attrition. There were few attempts at breaks and it was really just a slow (or sometimes fast) process of people getting shelled from the group and pulled quickly. The officials do a great job here with pulling racers before they can be lapped while still giving them accurate finishing places. Huge kudos to them for a job well done.

The main notable events in the crit this year didn’t happen to me – I sat on the entire time and finished 21st (DFL in the lead group) out of 50+ starters.

Greg crashed twice – once at the top of turn 4 when someone cut his line badly and shredded his front tire. He kept it upright but had a long walk to the neutral support to get a new wheel and restart in the race. Soon after restarting someone laid it down in turn 3 and he had no choice but to ride into them and go down pretty hard himself. This second crash was unfortunately in the final few laps so with no free laps he finished off the back in 30th.

More importantly to the GC, the winner of the TT, Robert Wasch, got tangled up with someone in turn 3 of the final lap and lost his chain. This dropped him all the way to 22nd in the crit and took him out of contention for the lead. Tough break for him as he’d been sitting up front in the group up until that point.


Stage 3 – RR

56 miles, 991 feet, 25.5 average

The road race course is an 18 mile loop with a sharp 0.6 mile climb around mile 2 and then mostly rollers for the rest of the course. The  loop ends with a descent, a sharp right into town, and then a slight chicane with another 90 degree right to the finishing stretch. The cat-3 field was doing three laps of this course.

This isn’t a course that suits me unless I can get in a break; the downhill and long flat section at the end really favors the competent sprinters.

Lap one went very fast. There were a few significant break attempts (some including me, some not including me), and the pace stayed pleasantly high (the faster the better on this type of course). The group brought back a four man break (including me) as we rolled through town and immediately another group went (not including me)  which fragmented down to Robert Wasch and a breakaway bikes rider trying to bridge. Before too long it was just Robert off the front.

With one rider (out of contention for the GC win) somewhere up front, there were more attempts at breaks, but in general everyone seemed to have lost interest. Lap 2 was fairly easy with Spinteck blocking for Robert and no one really putting in a concerted chase.

Things started to pick up again partway through lap 3 with more riders taking fliers and guys starting to put in some real effort. Suddenly with 3-4 miles to go we caught sight of Robert again and the chase was on in earnest. The group caught him just before the final downhill (maybe 1-1.5 miles from the line) and his solo 35 mile+ break ended in heartbreak.

I found myself in pretty terrible position in the finale (mostly due to laziness on my part) and ended up behind some riders who had to break heavily in the sharp right hander near the finish. This took me way out of contention so I more or less took it easy (made a point to pass the guys who were heavy on the brakes, but no one else) at the finish and came across in 30th place in the RR, 15th in the GC.


Stage 4 – Miscellany

I was pleasantly surprised with my results in the time trial. I wasn’t expecting much out of my first race on the Speed Concept, but the bike performed great and I couldn’t be happier about that result – maybe I’ll pickup a disc wheel and take these somewhat seriously next year.

The crit went about as expected – I’m a more competent cornerer than I was at this time last year, but I am not aggressive enough to shoulder past someone in the turns so I ended up tail gunning more than I should’ve – leading to unnecessary sprints as people let gaps open. Need to shut down passing attempts more aggressively to do well in this course

Driving back to the house in between the TT and the crit was a lot of extra car time, but well worth the trip to have a real lunch and a place to lay down and rest. Would be way better to stay in town, need to remember to pursue in town housing options next year.

Road race was also a disappointment for me – I know I don’t do well in these types of courses, but I had plenty left in my legs at the end and never put myself under enough duress to red line. I let myself get swarmed on some of the downhills and wasn’t able to move up enough on the rolling uphills (slow group = wide group = no passing lanes)

Overall if you’d told me 15th on GC on Friday evening I’d have been happy with it, so the weekend has to be considered a success

Mt Davis Challenge – Mens Cat 3 Recap


40.2 miles, 4652 feet, 20.3 average

Sunnybrook racer: Mark Detweiler

What we have for you today is a lollipop style course that starts with 4 flat miles in the river valley and then takes an abrupt left turn uphill for a fairly simple cat 3 climb. The course temporarily levels out and then converts to constant rollers. This portion is a test of your ability to carry momentum from the downhills into the seemingly unending punchy uphills. After 9ish miles of the rollers and step climbs the course serves up another climb to the highest point in Pennsylvania (and the first of two feed zones).

From here you head downhill for a solid five miles before beginning the last significant climb of the course. Near the top of this climb is the second feed. Once you crest this climb you have a screamingly fast descent to close the lollipop portion of the course. From here you’re descending back down all the rollers you hit on the way out, which includes some not insignificant climbs. You finally go down that initial cat-3 climb and hit the finish after 1.5 flat miles back in the river valley.

After winning the 4/5 race last year I was definitely in for the race this year. However, due to the Nittany Stage Race competing for racers the fields were much smaller this time around. The P12, 3, and 35+ all started together but maintained separate finish lists and prize pools. All told we only had about 20 starters for the three fields. By far the biggest group was the 3, with around 10 starters (10 finishers).

As with every time I’ve done this race, the opening climb helped decide the race. I reached the top of the climb in a group of 5-6 with two racers from the P12 about 10 seconds in front of us and everyone else off the back. I decided to use the sharp right turn to attack out of my group and managed to bridge to the two guys off the front.

Bridging to the two leadersLeaders


This was a great situation for me since I wasn’t competing with these two and could work freely. Unfortunately the effort of bridging had burned quite a bit of energy and I needed 5 minutes of sitting on wheels before I could contribute. After some well needed recovery I chipped in whenever I could, but still wan’t contributing evenly – they were both too strong for me.

The pain face while bridging

Pain face

Unlike previous times on this course, the chase group stayed close to us. We quickly established a 30 second gap, but every uphill saw them draw within sight. This group shrunk over time, but never gave up the chase.

The chasers


The three of us stayed together until the 200M to KoM sign, at which point the stronger attacked and instantly dropped both of us. I was gapped by both of them, but managed to descend back onto 2nd place’s wheel and we collaborated for a time. Again I was more of a passenger than I wanted to be, but I was able to continue chipping in for a while. Finally we reached the last major climb and he slowly but surely rode me off his wheel.

We had opened a bit more of a gap on the group at this point, maybe as much as 60 seconds, but now I was on my own for some serious climbing in heavy winds. I could still see them creeping up behind me and used that as motivation to hit the descents as hard as I could (PRs on every descent, with a few creeping into the top 10 overall) since I was slowly but surely going backwards.

The chase group was now down to four riders (all from my field as I later discovered) and drew as close as 50 M on the last uphill, but I was able to put some time into them on the final descent and entered the final flat 1.5 miles with enough of a gap to time trial myself across the finish line in first – 30 seconds ahead of the chasers, 2 minutes behind the overall winner and 15 seconds behind my other breakaway companion.

Too deep in the pain cave to post up at the finish


Rolled over to the two who finished in front of me, apologized for my lack of contribution to the group and slowly coasted back to my car for the wait for results and podiums

This is probably the most beat up I’ve been after a race I didn’t crash out of. The time alone was pretty dark and I was really deep in the pain cave. Luckily I was able to keep motivation from the group chasing me down and used that to finish relatively strong.




results mt davis

New tires for Training Camp – the ‘old fashioned Clincher option’ Continental GP4seasons.

While collecting my new bike (separate story coming later), the discussion at Bikesport turned to tire choice for the rough and bumpy roads in West Virginia. The roads are usually cut up from the winter, with lots of gravel and stone chips, never mind the dirt roads.

With some of the team switching to 27/28mm tubeless, my normal go-to choice of 23mm smooth and lightweight road tires (currently Bontrager R4s usually) didn’t seem like a great life choice. I still didn’t want to go too crazy with fully reinforced sides etc, and weight is a constant fun thing to keep in mind, so after some research and being sold on the minimal logo design, I went with a pair of Continental Grand Prix 4 season Black Edition. I don’t know why editions and black editions specifically are cooler, they just are, so I bought them and brought them home. The box says they’re handmade in Germany, and that these are made for the North American market, but yeah, they’re tires.

First impressions? They could be a bit more ‘black edition’, but that’s me being picky. I always nerd out and align the manufacturer logo with the valve stem (you know, because it’s P.R.O. and helps your mechanic locate it quicker in those critical race conditions), which was satisifying to do with the yellow 4, but the bright white logos could be a little less bright white. Packaging was nice, but they’re tires so really, who cares? Warning booklets were there, and I ignored them perfectly. If I crash because of a torn sidewall you’re welcome to laugh.

I’m not one for tire leavers, preferring to work them by hands while trying to make sure the tube is sitting safely away from everything. The sidewalls on the GP4’s were a bit stiff, but definitely not as bad as some of the reinforced tires out there. The bead hooked really nicely.. and that’s about it!

There’s plenty of room on the Trek Emonda SLR frame and fork for the 25mm tire, with what looks like a lot more space to go wider too.

First ride was pleasant, with around 95psi randomly selected to try as the pressure. I normally run 110 all the time all the way, but that’s on thin 23mm tires, so I figured I might as well really try out this comfort thing..

So, with all that said, here’s the rest of the photos of them mounting on a Bontrager Aeolus D3 3 clincher.

Pre Training Camp Road Trip and Riding

This year I decided that three days of training and hard riding at Raw Talent Ranch wasn’t going to be enough so I decided to take the whole week off work and head out for some destination climbing before joining everyone else in West Virginia.

Saturday 04-Apr-2015

Joe Haney and I were aiming to get south to Lynchburg, VA in time to ride Thunder Ridge by nightfall. With Lynchburg about six hours away by car, Joe showed up at my house at 5 AM and we caravan-ed down to Lynchburg. We made a quick stop for a sandwich at Subway then quickly checked into the hotel and got kitted up.

Our planned route was a touch under 80 miles with slightly more than 8,000 feet of vertical. Unfortunately there aren’t many flat roads between Lynchburg and the Blue Ridge Parkway, so just getting to the climb gave us 25 miles and 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Luckily, these rolling hills protected us from a sustained headwind. On the way there Joe confessed he hadn’t been on a ride over 45 or 50 miles in 6 months so this was going to be quite an adventure.

We took a quick stop to refill water bottles just outside of the park and stashed the half gallon we didn’t use outside the convenience store for use on the way back.

Once on the Parkway the climb starts almost immediately. It’s remarkable in it’s consistency with the grade sitting  between 4-6% for long stretches. We settled into a manageable pace and enjoyed the scenery on the way up. I had a rear flat about 5 miles into the climb that we stopped and dealt with and that led to me replacing the tire with a spare (luckily I brought spare wheels and gatorskins for the trip) when we finished.

The climb led to some pretty spectacular views and an even better descent. That consistent grade made the descending fast and easy. We bombed our way back down, quickly stopped to use the last of our water and headed back through the rollers with the tailwind we had earned earlier in the day.

The ride back to Lynchburg was a real grind; having 25 miles to go after that type of climbing effort was a bit of a routing mistake and both Joe and I were suffering by the time we reached the hotel.

We got cleaned up and went out for a well deserved burger and brew before calling it a night.

Sunday 05-Apr-2015

Up early, as always, I swapped my spare tire onto my wheel and bade Joe farewell. He was heading back home and I was heading further south to spend Easter with my Aunt in Charlotte.

I made a quick stop en route at a bike shop to see about a pedal problem which they diagnosed (pedal worn beyond repair) and were unable to solve (no speedplay zeros in stock) and then was on to the large family meal.

After a prolonged food and wine coma I roused myself and spent the evening driving to Asheville, NC for some more cycling adventures.


With rain in the forecast for both Monday and Tuesday but Monday looking significantly drier I decided to do Mt. Mitchell Monday as that was my primary goal in Asheville.

Mt. Mitchell has two primary ascents, one starting from Asheville (significantly less elevation gain) and one starting from nearby Marion, WV which has a much lower starting elevation. Being stubborn, I wanted to do the longer ascent (note that I didn’t get a time on the ascent due to some GPS irregularities).

I drove to the Walmart in Marion where we would be starting the ride around 9:45. There I met Jeff Watts, friend and racer from back home, who was vacationing in Asheville with his fiance Tara. They were heading home Monday but Jeff wanted to make time to go up Mt Mitchell so Tara dropped him off and away we went.

Jeff and I cruised about 8 miles to the base of the climb and spent the next 28ish miles going uphill to the summit of Mt Mitchell. This climb has steeper pitches than Thunder Ridge, but is still largely do-able.

The climb breaks down into several pieces, and for me the best part was the bottom section on winding Rt 80. It included switchbacks and views of a small stream that had carved out the valley we were riding in. Once we got up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway the views got better, but the climbing got more monotonous. The long straight sections wore me out a bit mentally and having Jeff there really helped keep the pace high. He and I are fairly evenly matched with me having a slight advantage on the uphills and him having a slight advantage on the downhills.

Once you make the turn into Mt Mitchell State Park the average gradient increases noticeably, but since you only have 4 miles to the summit it balances out. We hit the top and chatted with some other tourists who had driven up and then started our descent.

It rained on us fairly heavily for the first 5 miles of the descent and then dried up for the rest of the ride; great luck since the rain hurts at 40 mph.

Jeff bombed ahead of me on the descents but was kind enough to wait every once in a while to make sure neither of us had gone over the edge. Probably the hardest part of the day came on the way back, which was the 1.9 mile uphill midway through the descent. My legs were pretty chilled when we hit it and both of us were bitching about the interruption to the beautiful descent.

Overall the most striking thing about this ride was just how long the descent was. You don’t really realize just how far you’ve climbed until you go both up and down. We were paid back over and over again for our hard work on the way up as the downhill never seemed to end.

We got back to the parking lot after about 4 hours of riding time. I got changed and we headed over to a local eatery to wait for Tara to come get Jeff so they could begin the long drive home.

Really glad he could make it out as I’m sure the ride would’ve been 10x more mentally taxing to do alone. Having someone else to chat with and hear bitching about the climb definitely made it a lot better day in the saddle.

Spent some time on the phone and found a bike shop that had pedals in stock and went over and picked up some replacements; a bit expensive, but problem solved so money well spent. Stopped for some take out BBQ and called it an early night.


Lots of rain in the forecast for Tuesday, but no real indication as to when it would start or stop as of Monday evening. Woke up to find the best window was going to be morning. Powered through some oatmeal and got on the bike ASAP for an 8 AM start.

The plan was to do Mt Pisgah from Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway and loop back into town from a different direction.

I really struggled to find my legs on this ride. Took me almost 40 minutes to loosen up and start spinning – and even then I was loathe to push myself due to a sharp pain in my right knee (had shown up for a brief cameo the day before) and my general muscle fatigue.

The recurring knee pain and a new noise in the back end of my bike (maybe something wrong in the cassette/derailleur) distracted me from the fog and intermittent showers that I was riding through for most of the climb – but did little else positive for me. I was in a pretty dark place when I finally broke through the fog and got a look back at the climbing done. Talk about a great way to change your mood; suddenly I was back in the zone and the pain and bike problems seemed inconsequential.

This climb was similar to Thunder Ridge from Saturday with a constant grade and great road surface (thanks National Park Service). Several longer tunnels were a bit intimidating since I didn’t bring lights with me and the cars were screaming past but despite one close call I had mishaps.

I had chosen the easier ascent (approximately same elevation gain, but significantly longer mileage, so shallower) and on the way back down I regretted this choice as the steeper way down was still shrouded in fog and rain. Thus I carefully picked my way down the mountain before beginning the spin back to Asheville.

On the way back I had my first major routing problem (Joe and I had minor ones when one of the roads I picked was gravel and gated – but we walked around the gate and rode it anyway), coming to a road that was gated with a barbed wire fence, something I wasn’t going to risk.

Pulled out the cell phone and picked my way home along some regrettably major roads. Back into the dark mental place – checking your phone for directions every 5 minutes really takes the fun out of a ride

Back at the hotel I cleaned my bike up a bit (drive train only) and tried to find the noisy piece of equipment but found nothing suspicious. Luckily I’ll be seeing Ness in two short days and if it’s still rattling hopefully he can solve it for me!

Tomorrow it’s off north to meet Glenn, John, and Mike at Skyline Drive for another nice gradual climb before the steep nastiness in WV starts on Thursday.

2014 – Mount Joy RR – Mens 4/5 Recap


28 miles, 2,083 feet, 22.9 mph average

Sunnybrook racers: Mark Detweiler, John Mullen

On the books for today, four seven mile laps with approximately 500 feet of climbing per lap. The hilliest of the Lancaster road races, Mount Joy has a decent kicker around the half-way point of each lap and a few other uphill sections that can be done in the little ring.

The sun was shining already when I left my house at 6:30 for a 7:40 arrival at the start location. This gave me plenty of time to check in and ride a quick recon lap with John. The wind was extremely high for the time of day, and John and I discussed the chances of a break staying away as well as our overall strategy of taking it easy today to save our legs for Tucker County the next day.

Arrived at the start for a quick lecture on the yellow-line rule and it’s merits (we were told it would be enforced even on left hand turns…which is hard to imagine, and predictably it was not enforced on these left hand turns). A few teams (most notably CS Velo with about seven riders) had big representation in the group. After a short neutral roll-out from the staging area to the official start we were racing.

Straight into a headwind for the first half of the lap, so not much serious action going on. The pace is low and the effort required minimal. There are a few predictable surges around the various short climbs, but nothing serious and certainly nothing to put anyone into difficulty. Finally around mile 6 a three man break formed and got maybe 100 yards on the field. As we entered the single stretch of the race with no yellow line rule I completely forgot the plan to save our legs and sprinted across the gap; three were now four.

Unfortunately, four almost immediately became two as a Green Mountain rider and myself rode away from half of our group (unintentionally I assure you). We worked together for half of the second lap, but the writing was on the wall and the gap we had grown to 20-30 seconds seemed destined to shrink. However, on a long gradual descent three other riders broke free and bridged to us. Two were now five.

Joined by two more Green Mountain riders and one from CS Velo we felt a lot better about our chances and worked well together for the last mile of the second lap and all of the third lap. Having someone from CS Velo and half of Green Mountain gained us a lot more blockers (John was doing his best for me back in the field, but one man does not a field block) and a lot more people to share the work.

I was pretty gassed by this point and skipped a few turns on the front during the third lap. Rotating was wearing me down and at this point I just wanted to stay away from the main pack for duration.

Our advantage was up above the 40 second mark and we were mostly out of sight for the third and fourth laps, although we did feel some pressure at the top of the hills on the third lap. This helped rally the group and we got back to business.

The finish couldn’t come quick enough for me, so when the CS Velo rider tried to go for the win at 1k to go I let him pass me and hoped to hold the wheel of whichever of the three Green Mountain riders went after him. Unfortunately two of them passed me quickly and I couldn’t hold the wheel. Suddenly it was down to me and my original breakaway companion for fourth place and I had just enough to finish in front of him.

We all caught our breath and waited for the bunch sprint to come. The main group had whittled itself down to a much smaller group from surging as they had attempted to catch our break and the tailwind helped to make the sprint a very fast one for the well rested blockers.

Caught up with John and saw Maria M at the finish. No major mishaps in any of our fields other than me burning all my matches in the race that was supposed to be the warm-up for the main event in West Virginia on Sunday

2014 – Tour of Tucker County – Mens 4/5 Recap


56 miles, 6,400 feet, 17.4 mph average

Sunnybrook racers: Mark Detweiler, John Mullen

The Tour of Tucker County is considered one of the hardest road races within our general racing area. The route has a few geographical features of note; in order, they are:

Limestone Road Climb – A seven mile long climb with some spiky rollers at the top

Awesome descent – A three mile stretch of good quality road with sweeping turns

‘Small’ cat-4 climb – Interrupts an otherwise peaceful flat section of road which follows the Cheat River; feed zone is located on this climb

Sugarland Road Climb – A five mile climb with several long stretches above 10%, including a 1.1 mile stretch that averages 12%. The race finishes at the top of this climb

John and I decided to hit the 4/5 field (as opposed to the 3/4) this year due to the Mount Joy RR the day before and hopes for a strong finish. We showed up at the start location around 10:20 in the morning to get signed in and hopefully get a good warm up in. We both setup our trainers and did some easy spinning for 30-ish minutes. While doing this we saw Jay from Raw Talent Ranch and Mike (a rider both of us know from our semi-casual Monday night rides). Didn’t speak with Jay but he was registered in the Pro/1/2/3 field. Caught up a bit with Mike who is a casual racer and was trying his luck in the cat-5 field.

The race starts from the bottom of Sugarland Road due to the grade and road conditions leading to an unsafe racing environment. We joined the rest of the fields in a controlled descent to the bottom of the steep portion of the climb. From there we staged with the rest of our field (about 40 altogether) and waited about 30 minutes while the earlier starting fields got underway. This is a frustrating wait, but there doesn’t seem to be a great alternative given the controlled descent.

The race starts with a few miles of gradual descent with a few rollers mixed in. Our field wasn’t too interested in racing these miles hard as the climbing would decide the race either way. The pace picked up as we started up Limestone Road and before too long the field started coming apart. The approximately 40 starters were down to around 10 when I finally lost contact with the front group. They stayed tantalizingly close to me for 15-20 minutes, but I couldn’t bridge the gap and I finally saw them for the last time across a long bend when they were maybe 2 minutes ahead of me.

I gave up my chase and waited for some help which came in the form of a group of four riders who had also been dropped. They came up on my quickly and I had to dig to catch their wheels. A little surprising since they’d dropped before me on the climb. I joined up with them for the rollers at the top of the ridge and we worked together well through the remainder of the climb. At the top of the hill we agreed to regroup at the bottom and work at chasing down the leading group. After a fast and fun descent we did just that. Surprisingly one of the group couldn’t work well in a paceline and dropped out of the group.

The four of us took stock and agreed to put a chase together to try to catch the leaders; if we didn’t see them by the time we reached the feed zone we would start resting for the remainder of the flat section to prepare for the final, brutal climb. We rotated well, but the pace didn’t feel fast enough to catch the lead group. Thus, when we finally did reach the small climb and hadn’t yet seen the leaders none of us were too surprised.

We took our collective foot off the gas and conserved energy until the bottom of Sugarland Road. The upside of the work we put in meant no one else from our field was likely to catch us. the downside was the burnt energy for no real gain. I did my best to describe the climb to my three compatriots who hadn’t ridden it before. The bottom half is the hardest with a stretch that kicks you in the mouth and then continues to stomp at your will to ride for a long long time. It is definitely a climb where you want to go at your own pace; working to hold a wheel will end with you walking.

At the bottom of the climb I was able to put some time into my group and before long was riding on my own. I passed several riders (some walking, some cramping, some just riding extremely slowly) from the 3/4 field, but didn’t see anyone else from my field. This let me take my time for the second (easier) half of the climb as no one was close to catching me and I wasn’t about to pass anyone else. I finished a relatively easy time up the climb and crossed the line thinking I was somewhere in the 12-15 range (not knowing exactly how many were up the road from me). I ended up in 10th as the remaining lead group of 9 had all crossed the line in front of me.

Overall I finished about five minutes slower than the year before. My time on the first climb was faster than last year, despite being dropped on the climb. My time on Sugarland was significantly slower but probably isn’t a true comparison since I wasn’t racing for place for most of the climb (unlike last year when I could see the riders finishing ahead of me). I could blame it on the temperature being 10 degrees higher, or the race yesterday; bottom line I’m not climbing as well as last year.

John’s race was somewhat more eventful than mine. He dropped out of the front group a bit before me and was behind my group (not within sight) when he hit the fast descent. Unfortunately he hit a hole (that no one, not even he, saw clearly) at 40+ mph and did some damage to his front wheel, including a pinch flat. Fortunately he was able to keep the bike upright and come to a stop. He was on the side of the road for at least 10 minutes working on fixing the flat before a wheel car came by and helped him out with a neutral wheel. This probably ended up costing him at least 5-10 places since a large portion of the field was behind him and took this opportunity to pass.

Back on his bike he quickly found a group to ride with and ended up passing quite a few people on the final climb. He finished in 26th.

We both agreed that putting 2k and 1k to go signs on a climb like Sugarland is a cruel joke played on the field by the organizers. Absolutely brutal to see 2k and do the mental math and figure that’s about 10 more minutes of suffering.

Both of us took three bottles (having no neutral feed, and no one to hand us bottles) and drank every lost drop by the finish. I personally could’ve used a fourth bottle, but it wasn’t practical to carry.

Great weekend of racing for John and I, a bit more driving/travel time than I prefer, but there aren’t any races like Tucker County close to home. Hope to make time for it again next year and finally end up on the podium.

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