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.
Mt. Davis is a fairly new road race out of Confluence, PA. This was the third year it has been run, and the second time racing it for both John and I. Confluence is about four hours away by car and with the drive we have access to some more significant climbs
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 insignificantclimbs. You finally go down that initial cat-3 climb and hit the finish after 1.5 flat miles back in the river valley.
The race this year was a game time decision for me. Luckily the weather forecast cleared up Saturday morning (with only 40-60% chance of rain for Sunday, I was in). Preparation was swapping out my carbon wheels, brake pads, and doing a bit of work to make sure the cassette on the aluminum wheels was in good climbing shape (compact up front with a 28 in the back was the order of the day). Job done, I headed off to my dad’s house to pick up my soigneur.
Upon arrival in Somerset (where we were spending the night), we decided to take a quick ride down to Confluence and make sure the course (but mostly the descent) was in good shape. Did a slow-ish drive of the front side of the course and then headed back to town for dinner and a restless nights sleep.
Found John (and some other friends from back in Eastern PA) at the start nice and early, then headed out for a quick warm-up along the river valley. John and I rode part-way up the first climb and headed back to make sure my dad had the right bottles for us in the first feed. Technically a feed isn’t necessary (my time last year was around 2:05), but having 2.5-3 bottles is a big help, so we both took advantage of having someone available.
Our field had around 40 starters and several Pittsburgh area teams were very well represented. Most notable was Nugo/Koels who had at least five riders. Fortunately this style of race isn’t easily controlled, so I doubt anyone was thinking they had a huge advantage. I recognized a rider from last year with an epic beard who I’m pretty sure podiumed in 2013. I decided right away I would mark his wheel on the first climb.
The race was basically a neutral start for the entire flat section. There was no real racing and we averaged around 20 mph. I was on the beard’s wheel at the bottom of the climb and was feeling pretty crappy considering how little effort I’d put in. The hard pace set on this ~10 minute climb put me into quite a bit of difficulty in the first five minutes, but by the second five I had my legs under me and was feeling very comfortable with the front group. Unfortunately for both him and me, the beard didn’t have the legs this year so I had to get around him and close a large gap to get to the leaders
By the time we reached the top of the initial climb the group of forty was down to five. Unfortunately this was the last I saw of John as he was one of the last discharged as we whittled the group down to five. The five of us knew a good thing when we saw it and started working together well on the rollers. I was still feeling good and did a fair amount of the uphill pace making at a speed just below my threshold, so that when the accelerations came I was able to move onto wheels. When we reached the first feed one of the group decided to sprint for the (non-existent) 4/5 KOM and this, plus the earlier climbing, distanced two of the five. The three of us settled in after a quick bite to eat and drink and were able to grow the gap on the long fast descent until no one else was within sight of us.
The other two with me were both more confident on the descents than I am (talk about setting a low bar) but I quickly figured out that if I was on the front for the descent they weren’t aggressive enough to bomb past me without a straightaway, so I could limit my losses fairly easily. Unfortunately, for most of the longer descents it seemed to rain lightly. At a few different places the road was like glass with just a fine sheen of water covering the surface. Mostly we stayed dry, but I was covered with grime by the finish.
We continued to work together and there was no real separation between us for the remainder of the race. I was feeling pretty good about my chances in a sprint since both of my companions were small climbers who I had at least 20 lbs on. This, plus the descending remaining dissuaded me from trying to gap them on the remaining uphills. I figured any effort I put into dropping wouldn’t be enough, or if it was, they’d ride back up to me during the extended descents. I expected everyone to really push on the final descent and try to gap me, but they took it easy and we all got to the final flat miles together.
We played the normal games with a slow pace on the flats, and the lack of distance to finish signs confused us all quite a bit. There was, however a 200 yards (yes yards, not meters) to go sign. One of the riders with me took that as his sign to go, so I jumped on it and was able to gap both of them and finished in 1st with about a bike length lead on 2nd. My first win of the year!
Congratulated my break companions on a race well done and circled back to the finish to wait for the rest of the group. We’d ended up with about a five minute gap on 4th place as he was stuck in no man’s land with no protection from the wind up on top of the mountains. John came in a few minutes later in 17th.
After waiting for the official results, podium, and getting hydrated we had some celebratory BBQ and got in the car for the drive home.
Sunnybrook Racers: John Mullen, Ryan Waltermyer, Mark Detweiler
One nice thing about this event was the 10:24 start time. Didn’t have to climb out of bed too early and was able to drive out to the Lancaster area for a 9 AM arrival. Quickly found John and Ryan and we rode over to the registration area to grab our numbers and size up the field (definitely the toughest field I’ve been in this year, lots of 3s, lots of folks about to be upgraded). Spin back to the cars, pin on numbers and go warm up by doing a single lap of the course.
The course was 6 laps of rolling hills followed by one lap with an extra kicker thrown in. Hardly a level foot in the whole course, but in general the only truly hard parts were the grinding hill on Blue Rock Rd (coming out of a 90 degree turn) and the Gamber Wall on the last lap. Worth mentioning that 80% of the course was closed, so the yellow line rule was only in effect for the stretch along river road. This felt great and was a huge upgrade over the regular Lancaster area road races.
After a short warm-up we took a trip back to the car to get rid of the extra gear we all wore while warming up and got to the start about five minutes before start time.
The race started hot (or maybe it was just the lack of serious warm up), and the hardest lap for me was the second. My Garmin tells me the fastest lap was the third, but I must’ve had my legs under me by that point.
I spent most of the race sitting in the back third of the pack which made for some hard sprints out of the turns, but also for some easy sitting in. John was riding very strong and was staying around the midpoint of the pack with ease. Over the course of the first three laps the field shrunk from 100 to somewhere in the 70-80 range. Unfortunately around this time was the last I saw of Ryan, I believe he was dropped around the finish of lap 2 (which was around when I was feeling pretty awful as well).
The first three laps saw lots of small group attacks, but no breakaways ever got more than a 10-15 second lead on the group.
The race settled into a slower pace at the end of the third lap and followed pretty much the same pattern for the next three laps. Minimal attacks, slow downs on most of the hills, everyone more or less saving themselves for the last lap. Every time down river road with only a single lane available there was some shady braking and merging but no crashes (yet).
Last lap sees the field take the detour up the Gamber Wall. This shrunk the field down to about 50 (last I saw of John, who had been riding further up in the field than me to that point) and it further whittled down on the back straight hill (to maybe 45ish). I was riding about 40th as we crested the last hill and entered the fast downhill stretch to the finish. I was able to move up a bit on the descent but could see that the 45 man bunch sprint was already away from me so I wasn’t really on the gas when the crash happened.
I was maybe ten lengths back from the crash so I don’t know how it got started, but a bunch of bikes went down on the right side and someone went careening off to the left and took out another big bunch there. About fifteen riders up front stayed clear of the chaos and contested the sprint. The rest of us all either crashed or dropped so much speed that our race was over. I ended up rolling over the line in 20th at a very gentlemanly 15 mph. All in all about 20-30 riders went down and they had to call extra ambulances (I saw at least 4). Hopefully no one was seriously injured, but there wasn’t much good info at the finish.
At the finish John, Ryan, and I were all happy to see each other upright with no complaints other than our overall conditioning. Ran into a bunch of friendly faces at the finish including Maria who was waiting for her race to start.
I had definitely expected Gamber Wall to take a bigger toll on the field, but I guess that the reduced pace on laps 4-6 allowed too many folks to stay together.
Great event put on out there despite the crash. The course could be made safer with a slightly different finish point (at the top of one of the false flats) or with more trips up the wall, but overall having a mostly closed 5 mile lap is awesome.
Tour de Pitman is a flat circuit race in New Jersey. Each of the 8 laps is 3 miles long and has 5 corners. Turns 1,2,4,5 left and turn 3 a mild right. There is a minor climb between turns 1 and 2 (maybe 15-20 feet in elevation) and a longer grinding uphill on the back side between turns 3 and 4.
The race starts with a neutral roll-out from the start/finish to turn 1 due to road conditions. There are a few noteworthy holes between turns 5 and 1 and again between turns 4 and 5. Nothing that will crash a bike, but certainly worth knowing about. The yellow line rule is in effect for the entire course except for turn 5 to the finish. Roads are narrow and passing is a challenge. The yellow line rule was very heavily enforced. There were a few times when I thought a rider could have been pulled to the back of the field, but mostly the motos did a consistent job with it today.
Huge field today, with 87 pre-registered. Lots of cat-5s and a number of folks who had never raced before, or hadn’t raced in the past few years. As a result the field was a little choppy with a lot of line diving and near crashes. Early on we’d identified a few guys who were strong enough to hang but very sketchy in the turns.
The race started fairly slowly with a solo break going almost from the start. The group held him at about 10-15 seconds for most of laps 1-3. I was riding near the front (top 15) at the start of lap 2 when someone dove across my wheel in turn 2 and I lost a ton of speed and a lot of folks went by me. This forced me back to a tail gunner position for a couple of laps.
I had moved back into the front half of the field by the start of lap 5, which was when the only serious move was made. A small group tried to get off the front and we actually raced for a bit. Chased the group down, but the pace had finally been raised. I was still easily sitting in and never felt under any pressure. The pace stayed a little higher (26ish for laps 5 and 6) before dropping again in lap 7.
Around the end of lap 7 I decided it was time to actually use some energy so I moved up and was riding around 20 or 25th position for most of lap 8.
Coming into turn 4 of the last lap I had positioned myself almost where I wanted to be. Maybe too far back to contest for the win, but certainly thinking about a relatively certain top 5 or 10 (considering my effort level thus far was low). I was riding around 20th wheel, positioned on the outside line (which was passing the rest of the field quickly) when someone in front crossed wheels in turn 4. Several riders made speed wobbles and I could hear spokes breaking. No choice but to go wide and hop up onto the sidewalk and lose all my speed (down to around 10 mph). Somehow we all stayed upright but I was now unofficially out of the race.
I cruised on the sidewalk for a few blocks, jumped down and passed maybe 15-20 people before turn 5 and then cruised into the finish. No point sprinting. I finished 39th out of 70-ish finishers.
John was just in front of the near-crash in turn 4 and said it was caused by a dramatic slow-down on his line (which I believe was the middle line, slightly inside of mine). He also lost a ton of momentum and was passed by a number of folks as a result. I believe he finished in the mid to low 20s. He was maybe 2 riders in front of me on this middle line. Without the loss of speed we were both very well positioned. Me with the ideal line for the sprint and John in a good spot around 15-20th in the field.
The end result was basically that those on the inside line who didn’t have to go hard on the brakes took all of the top 20 and the rest of us were just happy not to have hit the deck.
I found out later that Earl Hunt (former Sunnybrook racer) was the one who crossed wheels and had a few spokes broken. He seemed to blame himself as he was being passed on the outside (by the rider 2 bikes in front of me) and looked back at the guy passing him and in that moment he hit the rider in front of him (probably on the skewer since that bike wasn’t damaged, but Earl had 2-3 broken spokes). I didn’t witness the specifics, but losing front spokes in a turn and not crashing is more or less a win.
Overall a very frustrating result for me as I had been sitting in and really not racing much at all. Lessons to learn for me are mostly around doing work and staying on the front, not near the front. I had a relatively easy time moving up in the field (which is a change for me, I don’t usually enjoy the close riding), just left myself a little too far back and at the risk of other peoples bike handling. If I had to do it again I’d have moved up further at the end of lap 7 and used that position to be in front of the problems.
Take a look here to see a portion of the pack go right by me on the second to last turn of the race while I’m basically standing still
Men’s 35+ Saturday:
Humid, humid & more humid + lots of dust. Started 50th of 91 riders after the “day ofs” jumped in. Finished 46th out of the 62 finishers. I moved up to 18th and held in for 3 laps until I got hit pretty hard in a corner. I lost all ground I had gained & now only had 3 riders behind me in the race once I could get back in the saddle. My stem was at a 45-degree angle to the left, had a broken right pedal clip (that would jamb inside the pedal OR not clip in at all) and for a bonus – no shifting. I spent the rest of the race picking off who I could to get back to my starting position in the field.
Men’s 35+ Sunday:
Reverse the course; throw in a log and fast, tacky corners! Started 48th of 79 riders. Finished 45th out of the 60-some finishers. I didn’t move through the field quite as well but someone yelled that I was 23rd a couple times in the race. The log gave me fits – worse as the race went on. I felt great and was riding fast. In the final lap (right before the log portion) my chain got jammed behind the chain catcher which was too loose (probably after getting hit the day before). It took 4 good Samaritans to get that K-edge jawn to move and get back on the course. I lost 15 to 20 spots but finished strong.
I can hang with these fast old men but need to be more smooth across the terrain. There must have been 50 learning moments over the two days where I benefitted from being behind some super fast/clean riders. The little 3 second mistakes add up and you finish 5 minutes behind the winner – minor mistakes are penal with these dudes! I hope to learn a lot this year. Cross is the most fun you can have racing. Cross is the most painful racing you can engage in. A pit bike might be a good idea. 32psi up front/35psi in rear.
Up earlyish on a Sunday morning, with clear skies and temps in the mid ’50s and rising to the ’80s later one. I drove down to the race and walked to the finish line just in time to see the last couple of laps of a earlier race with new member Damon finishing strongly in the Cat 5 pack finish – well done Damon!
I said hello to teammate Jim S who was also going to be in the same race as me, grabbed my race number and headed back to the car to put the bike on the trainer and get warmed up. I haven’t raced in a long time (last August..), and I was a bit nervous about eating/sleeping/hydrating but as the course is a simple 4 corner crit it’s pretty forgiving for all that stuff compared to further/more intense racing. I ate a suitable for vegans strawberry flavour Clif shot before warming up, put on my headphones and spent 20 minutes warming up with some mild and unorganised intervals. In races I generally have 2 or 3 major efforts available, call them ‘matches to burn’ if you’d like to think of it that way – once it’s lit, that match is done. Sometimes I have 3, others it’s 2 and done.. Getting good and warmed up hopefully avoids me using one early on.
Lining up on the start/finish line I was with fellow teammate John, but couldn’t spot Jim. We were the 3 team members racing in the Cat 4 Mens, and we all have quite different skills and strengths on the bikes. A few other buddies were also nearby in the pack, and a few people that I only know from racing said hello and we had a quick catch up with how much we all had or had not been riding/racing.
The whistle goes, and we’re off at what felt like a decent pace. There’s no lap counter yet – we will be racing for 40 minutes and after some seemingly random amount of time they’ll start a lap countdown. This makes it hard for me to mentally pace myself as I normally eagerly count down the laps and can’t quite get used to looking at my Garmin computer to check the time expired.
The first few laps quickly settle into a pattern – 3 to 8 riders at the front in single file, with everyone else fanning out behind. There’s a bunch of slowing and random braking going into the corners, and I’m quickly in the middle or back 2/3s of the pack of 70 or so riders. I hear Ben (who is there spectating) yelling that I need to move up. He’s right, so I try to and that’s how the next 20 minutes go by. I’ll move up slowly and not use a crazy amount of energy but a lot of mental anguish or I’ll move up quickly and use a bunch of energy. Then someone in front of me will brake going into a corner and 10 people will bomb around the outside before the next corner. Just intervals and intervals and intervals, which was not what I wanted with my questionable levels of fitness.
By 7 laps I knew i have to move up into the top 20 or ideally 10 or so riders. By lap 6 I made it there, one match pretty much burnt, and waiting for the surge that the Lap 5 announcement normally brings. We cross the line for 5 to go and nothing happens… … until the long straight between corner 1 and 2. It ramps up, I’m on the limit holding position but the elastic doesn’t snap. Match 2 well and truely burnt. Lap 4 slows, Lap 3 is okay, my heartrate is coming back down and I can sit up and steal half pedals to regroup. I move back a bit as people come around both sides, but I try to maintain my position and composure for the end. Lap 2 – I move up again, final corner of Lap 2, I think I’m around top 10-15 and actually stand a chance – I’ve got my heartrate down and I think I’ve got some legs. But…
Corner 1 on the last lap, I pedal through it with no braking, still top 20 or so. I want to be, and have to be, top 10 into corner 3 and 100% must be for corner 4. Teammate John is ahead and to the right I think, but I can’t see or get to him. I run across the gravel exiting turn 1, but no issues. A little further along the straight towards corner 2 the person one in front and to the right on me suddenly looks like a Salmon going up stream. He’s wobbling and although his trajectory is left and across me, he’s wobbling hard while doing it so it’s hard to know what the hell is happening. I guess he touched bars or front wheel with someone and is trying to stay upright. I hit the brakes while simultaneously trying to avoid him and also not cause a pileup behind me. His back wheel skips across my front wheel but I still don’t know which way he’s going to wobble – I hold my line, watching in seeming slow motion, as he shots left into the corner of a curb. I’m passing him just as he goes over his bars and falls into the grass. If he’d fallen into the road it would have been a much rougher landing and probably right into my wheel. I glance back, he’s alive and the pack is all upright and still right there. 3 corners to go..
I sprint to catch up and move into a hole that’s been created. There’s no obvious good wheel, I dig and I’m back on with the leaders. We turn the corner and I keep pedaling hard and suddenly I’m at the front. I look right and there’s a big group going fast behind the person I just pulled alongside who is also going fast. I do NOT want to be here yet – this is where I want to be on 100 feet from the finish line. I panic, I look for a wheel, for help, for anything. There’s nothing. We’re flat out going to corner 3 and I’m just sucking wind. The group to the right pull ahead and I’m start to flounder. The third and final match has been angrily lit and it’s burning me out fast. By the exit of corner 3 my legs and I aren’t on the same page anymore, and we’re not in the same race as everyone else. I try to grab a passing wheel, and then try to get the next one and then the next one. I’ve got nothing.
I’m in the drops, I can’t stand up to pedal so I’m fully ‘on the rivet’ as the saying goes – I’m barely making contact with the very front of my saddle because I’m just a ball filled with stress, doing my best with out of sync pedaling and my head straight down. Half way to corner 4 and I’ve gone from top 3 to top 30 or worse. My legs are aruging and I can’t even handle telling them to shut up (sorry Jens). I let up, consciously or subconsciously, I don’t know. I see the leaders exit corner 4 and I haven’t even entered it yet…
I see how stretched out the pack it, and knowing that I have family and friends at the finish line I have a glimmer of hope that I can buck up and maybe claw back some positions – and then someone just ahead of me exiting corner 4 falls over meekly into the grass on the outside of the bend. I’m done. I finish in I-don’t-know-what-position but it’s probably 40th or 50th. The finish feels like it has a slight uphill rise to it, and people are still trying to get their sprint going for 50th place. I cross the line and pull off immediately, legs and arms spasming and twitching, and I get my breath back as the supporting teammates pat me on the back and wait until I can offer my excuses for being all over the place in the race.
I’m glad to be back racing, frustrated today maybe but loving it overall.
2013 Brownstown Race – (Spoiler – Greg won the Mens Cat 4!)
Attendees: Earl, Glenn, Greg, Ida, Jim, Joe, John, Maria, Mark
Men’s Cat 4/5 Race Recap by Glenn S
I jumped in with Kegstand and Earl in Bucktown so we could carpool to farmland and race bicycles. We arrived in plenty-o-time to take a couple practice laps. Corner 1 was a left-hander 100 yards after the start/finish then flat-out into a straight, downhill section. Corner 2 was 90 degrees left with a slight rise in the middle. Through a couple rollers into a quick left/right “S” turn followed by a long downhill stretch leading uphill to corner 3 which turned left 90 degrees through a farm. Following a quick right and sweeping left you arrive at the only real sketchy corner – 110 degree left-hander with a little gravel and corn all around. There was one more 90 degree lefty before the final 1 ½ mile straight stretch. The final stretch had a .30 mile uphill, followed by matching descent – across a bridge to the final .40 mile uphill sprint finish. Warm-up discussions had Joe, Greg and I thinking we would re-group in the final lap and attack with 2 miles to go at the trickiest left-hander on the course. All-in-all the course layout was pretty cool. It was starting to get pretty humid and hot! We lined up ready to get this thing going – pretty nice because the 4/5 field, the Cat5 40+ field and the women’s field would all start/finish within minutes of one another.
Early into lap 3; Greg and I jumped with 4 other riders in what appeared to be a break attempt. Rumor has it that when you break; you actually have to work – shocker! Paul from Simmeria pulled, then me, then Gregg and then we went back to the lead pack.
At the end of lap #3 and through most of lap #4; Joe, Mark and I pulled the field around while Greg napped back in the field.
Lap #5: I was 3rd wheel coming up the sprint in the end of the fourth lap through corner 1. The KB rider up front decided to ride himself into the grass on corner 2 so Paul (Simmeria) and I traded pulls for a mile or so. Right before the left-hander in the farm; a KB rider passed us but the body-language lead us to stay put. Next I hear “Glenn” and Greg is full on the gas coming up the left side. I threw out the grappling hook; him and I quickly gapped the field and before long had bridged to the KB rider and passed him fast. I paused around the 3-mile mark – hoping that we would take a slight breather (atleast around the next corner) and then attack again – we had a big gap. Greg passed me hard again after the tricky corner – I had 3 seconds to decide what to do. I knew Greg had some energy pent up and was going to go full throttle. I was pretty tapped (interval training needed) so I yelled “go” decided to rest a few seconds. I was hoping that if all else failed I could control the field attack and atleast be our number 2 man if Greg blew up. Greg had a long haul ahead of him but he is a snot-blowing BEAST. I tried to only ride fast enough to keep others from passing me and if they did I just grabbed their wheel waiting for the next elbow flail. A couple times we began to gain on him quickly. Coming across the creek it was 100% apparent that he would hold on for the W-I-N! The field fanned out and started to sprint – riders everywhere PLUS one lone photographer.
I was on the right side and all of the sudden we came to a stop about 15 feet before the finish – a couple riders were down. After eventually realizing “o-ya we have to cross the finish line” I was wondering who would have crashed, after the finish line on an uphill finish. My teammate Mark – on his cursed Eddy Merckx – was taken out by an apparent blind woman trying the ‘gram the event. She stepped out right in front of him and he clipped her with his elbow/shoulder, spun him around and down he went – hard. Trashed kit, cracked frame, busted fork, cuts, bruised ribs, tweaked shoulder BUT no said woman to be found to offer an apology or anything. Joe took the mangled Merckx back to the car while Mark got bandaged up. We checked results and said goodbye to Maria while Ida was already in the car planning her lunch menu. Jim, Earl and I loaded up and we were on the road by 11. Joe drove Marks’ car home for him so he could ride with Greg – after Greg collected his gift cards from Bike Line and Moses’ Carved Butter Emporium of course. It was pretty cool to have a few riders come up and acknowledge that we controlled the race and that the team effort paid off. It is a blast to race with so many guys in Sunnybrook Racing kits!
Women’s CAT 3/4 Race Recap by Maria G
The day started with a road trip to Leacock Leola Bareville, PA about an hour and 20 minute drive. Carpooling was Maria, Ida and our junior rider Ersilia. Conversation on the drive up was about how nervous Maria was and how not nervous Ida was which was surprising since this was our second road race of the season after Ida’s bad crash at the end of the season last year. Our first race was SoYoCo which only had 5 women in our field Maria finishing 2nd and Ida 3rd. We knew we had our work cut out for us at Brownstown with over 25 starting in our field.
As we arrived we were greeted by our men’s 3/4 teammates proudly sporting their gray and orange jersey. As they were preparing to do their warm up laps Maria and Ida went to sign in and pick up their numbers. Once we got our number pinned on it was time to roll and shake out some nerves by doing one warm up lap. We have forgotten how absolutely beautiful this course was.
After our warm up lap we met up with the Sunnybrook boys at the start and we were able to meet some of our new teammates. Not before long it was time to line up. Wishing the guys luck Maria and Ida made their way to the back of the line. As the waves started Maria inched her way up to the front with Ida not far behind. With that said it made for a great day of racing!
The race started with a nice flow for the 1st lap the second lap had a few attacks which did not shake anyone loose. We all managed to stay together for the majority of the race. We were very happy with the way our fellow female competitors were racing. Everyone was holding a nice tight line and calling out if they were passing or next to you even at the crazy uphill sprint finish.
Maria finished 9th overall and 1st in cat 4.
Ida finished 16th overall and 5th in cat 4
Men’s Cat 4/5 Recap by Joe H:
The course layout was typical rolling Lancaster. Glenn was Glenn and spent more than his share in the front. Greg was up there as well. Mark, John and myself spent most of the time in the front group. I lost track of the lap count and didn’t partake in the final hill sprint for like the only lap of the race…duh. Greg broke away with amazing speed with around 2 miles to go. He gapped several hundred feet from the main group. Glenn then was in the front blocking a hesitant counter by the pack. Mark was victim of spectator faux pas when she stepped into the course, took a picture then turned her back while still on course ~ forcing an evasive move. Very unfortunate! Mark has a shoulder and rib injury some deep wounds. His bike has a cracked frame and fork.
Men’s Masters 40+ Cat 5 Recap by Jim S :
Hurray! I don’t get to ride in many Cat-5 races that are made up of riders close in age. There were no teenagers showing of their fast twitch fibers. Mostly older guys who’s stare reads, “We’re gonna keep this slow, right?” Earl and I lined up with about 32 competitors at the start. Just ahead of us were Glenn, Joe H. and Greg in the Cat-4/5.
We were looking at a 4 lap race of about 5 miles per lap. The finishing stretch had two little kickers with one of them being at the finish. Other than that, it was fast course. It would have been faster if not for the center line rule. We were only allowed to cross the yellow line on the finishing stretch. The marshal was there with his motorcycle the whole time keeping everyone honest.
The race quickly got up to speed coming out of turn two. The first lap was either single file, or two-by-two. My goal was to stay in contact with the pack. Knowing full well that I could easily get dropped on the small climbs, I tried to move to the front at the base, race to the top, and then recover after the crest. I held this strategy for the first lap. While I was recovering on the wheel of the biggest guy I could find I looked up and notice he was being gapped off and the pack was pulling away. I didn’t wake up this early and drive this far to have my race end after the first lap, so I yelled to the guys around me to help chase back on. I took the first pull and about 3 or 4 other guys came with me. I think it took about a mile, or more, but we finally rejoined the lead pack. During this chase is where I caught up to Earl. Unfortunately, that was the last I saw of Earl until the finish. It turns out that coming up the hill near the finish; the wheel Earl was following made a sudden stop. This forced Earl to take evasive action. In doing so, he clipped wheels with another rider and they both went down. Earl bounced back up and got on his bike, but by then the pack was gone. He and his group of riders were too far back at this point to close down another gap.
With now two full laps complete, the race half over, and me fully recovered and back in the pack I was feeling very proud of myself. I thought, “Hey, I may be able to stay with this group for another lap!” So, I kept my strategy with only one modification. I was hanging at the back of the pack and get strung-out through every corner. That meant I had to burn a little extra energy coming out of each turn. I fixed this problem by moving further up in the group. This allowed me to easily stay with the group for the full third lap and the entire final lap.
About halfway through the final lap I would say were riding in a pack of about 15. Suddenly the rider to my right and about a half bike length ahead touched wheels with the rider in front of him. Remember this is halfway into the final lap, so the pace is up at this point. He went down and the rider behind him went straight into him. That second rider went over the handle bars flipping his bike so high in the air that it was above my head. It was so close that I literally ducked to avoid being hit by the flying bicycle. These two guys sprawled on the ground took out a third rider who could not get out of the way. The riders pulling at the front heard the mayhem, but someone yelled, “GO -GO” and we just kept moving.
When we reached the finishing sprint I never expected to be part of it, but there I was, sprinting uphill. Now, if you’ve ever watch me sprint uphill you’ve probably said to yourself, “Hey, shouldn’t he be sprinting?” I tried best I could to hammer it to the finish and ended up with 14th place. For me, this was a fantastic result. I finished with the pack and even had a chance to sprint for the line. Most importantly, I didn’t get dropped.
Afterwards, I had a great time swapping race stories with the rest of the team while Mark and Earl licked their wounds from their crashes and Gregg collected his winnings. I watched the girl’s finish. While Maria was pushing hard to reach the line Ida was smiling and waving to the cameras. Priorities!
Note from Jamie (le président):
Racing and riding bikes (perhaps life in general?) can be dangerous, which is something we choose to accept. Accidents can also happen, as can racing incidents which we also accept. However, manners and responsibilities should not be optional. One of our racers was ‘taken out’ in this race by a mindless spectator stepping out into the finish straight, facing away from oncoming riders, to take a photograph.
As quoted by the race officials the crash was exactly as you would see on television – bike and rider flipped immediately and went down hard. Hard enough in fact to destroy the top tube of the bicycle, and leave him with shredded kit and skin. Again, accidents do happen but this appears to have been a ignorant and easily avoidable one. Thankfully there are no broken bones to heal (and our title sponsor is a very good Chiropractor if work is needed). This leaves the worst part being that the person disappeared without a suggestion of a apology or checking that the rider was okay, nevermind even being alive. Perhaps they didn’t realise their error, but I for one certainly hope they did so that they won’t repeat it in the future.
Ride safe everyone,
Sunnybrook Racing President.
We had a good team turnout for this race, which is held on the same course as where a lot of us (and many other people) train on Thursday nights.
Cat 5 Mens Recap by Jim S
It was a chilly start to the day. I’m not sure how many riders towed the line for the Cat-5 race, but there were 37 finishers, including all 4 of the Sunnybook Cat-5 riders that started the race. The pace stayed reasonable, no breaks stayed away and I thought we were in good position for the final laps.
There are always some sketchy riders in the Cat-5 races and Sunday was no exception. We quickly pointed them out and kept our eyes on them to stay out of trouble. That said, we were doing a fair job of communicating with each other. The pace of the peloton seemed to allow us to move freely through the pack. Joe Haney stayed in the front third for most of the race. He made sure to bring back any break that tried to get aways. Joe Baker and I stayed near the back, sitting in and saving energy. I noticed Earl floating up to the front and riding with Joe H. every now and then.
With the pack under control and all together, I decided to wait for the final 5 laps to start move up. I took my time and with 3 laps to go all four of us were riding close together near the front. My one regret is that we did not take this opportunity to setup a plan for the win. Instead, I went off on my own. I thought that with the pack all together a bunch sprint could get tricky. I knew Joe H. would be able to contest for the sprint, so I went to the front of the pack trying to up the pace, stretch out the group and drop some of the riders who were already spent. I took off with two laps to go. I took a quick look over my should to see if anyone came with me that’s when I heard someone yell, “Go!”. I found out later it was Earl. I think I accomplished my goal, but it was hard to tell from my vantage point.
The pack came back up to me, but didn’t blow past me. I kept looking for my teammates. Hoping they were still in the front. I saw some Sunnybrook jersey come through, but I couldn’t tell who was who. By this time we were winding up for the sprint to the line. Some guys just have that extra gear to kick into in the last few hundred meters. The riders not contesting for the top 10 seemed to just sit up. All-in all we had a great race and we all finished with Joe H. taking the best Sunnybrook finish of 11th place.
I found out after the race that the person I heard yell “Go” was Earl. I didn’t know it at the time, but Earl went with me with two laps to go. Earl later admitted that when he yelled, “Go”, that was also his last breath….He was cooked, but hung on to finish with the rest of us.
It was a great race!
Cat 4 Mens Recap by Jamie Orr, in haiku:
Greg Glenn take pulls… attack!
Even Ben off front? strong team show!
Jamie waits, sprints for eighth.
Unedited complete race video from Cat 4 Mens race. It’s unedited, so is the full race and so there’s long gaps between anything happening.. You’ve been warned!
Hawk Mountain Team Time Trial 2013~ Saturday, January 5th, 2013
For the 2nd year in a row Sunnybrook Racing joined in the fun. December was “mileage month” so a majority of our riders had many miles logged in our legs and felt pretty good. Ben, Bruce, Dave, Geoff, Glenn, Greg, Ida, Jamie, Jim, Joe B., Joe H., Kimi, Maria, Margie and Rob arrived around 9:30 in Kutztown to enter (3) teams into the event. We had a women’s team, “out for Sunday drive” team and “go for it” team. The women’s team was Ida, Kimi, Margie, Maria PLUS Joe B. volunteered as they wanted a 5th rider with them. The next team had Ben, Bruce, Dave, Jamie, Jim and Rob. The “go for it” team was Geoff, Glenn, Greg and Joe H. We went off in this order with 1-minute staggering between groups. The route is right around 44 miles: 20 miles of rollers, 2 mile climb up Hawk Mountain, 2 mile descent back down and 20 miles of rollers back to Kutztown. It was just under 30 degrees when we started but the wind was the enemy! The wind was strong and it really sucked! Half of the wind was a crosswind so you knew you would also have it on the way back. Sometimes the wind came from the face, some from the left and some from the left – you really had to navigate your echelon well to shield each other.
I was in the “get on it” group and knew it would be a tough day because neither Geoff or Joe H. have a governor and Greg is strong too. We caught up to the next (2) Sunnybrook teams in a couple miles and only had (1) Simmeria team behind us. I recommended a couple times on the way out to ease the pace since I knew the climb and the way back were going to be draining as well. All listened and we were better off for it. Around mile 18 the Simmeria team was only 20 seconds behind us, we eased our pace and they caught up to us and passed us. Shortly thereafter we passed them and we kept exchanging leads. When we got to Hawk Mountain, we all ascended at our own pace – passing all the other teams in the meantime. Geoff got up to the top first and went a needed nature walk. I passed him and started my descent and figured I would be the rabbit for them to catch. Joe rounded the top and made chase. A minute later, Geoff and Greg began reeling us in as well. Geoff and Greg caught Joe within a mile or two and a few miles later they caught me. We worked together for the next 13 miles or so and finished in 2 hours 16 minutes. According to Dean from Simmeria we WON by 3 minutes over the Cyclodrome team. The conditions made everyone’s time slower – last year we finished in 2:10. We also got lost (3) times because the course was not marked and it cost us about an extra 1 ¼ miles.
Once back, we all met up and commiserated about the wind. Joe H. had brought some Wawa hoagies and beer. Meg brought donuts and muffins. We hung for as long as cold bodies on 30 degrees can handle (15 minutes) and then headed home. Technically most of us went home but Ben and Jamie headed deep into Berks County to a place called “Tow Job” and swam around in old VW parts for a while. We really like this event and thank Simmeria for organizing it – great way to start off the new year.
Crazy Train 2013~ Sunday, January 6th, 2013
Here is how it went. Dave, Geoff and I left my house at 7:15 and met Jamie somewhere in northeast Philly around 8:20 at the wrong location because the directions were wrong – Jamie began to swear. We finally got to the event after everyone had already left. Jamie cussed more and honked his horn. We headed onto the course that was not well-marked and Jamie swore more. Dave got dropped in the first 2 miles and probably called us dirty names. Since Jamie was “on a mission” we passed the first beer stop where apparently everyone was – we were now in the lead. We came to an abandoned warehouse with no markings or tracks and Jamie really let out the explicative-chain. While we tried to figure out where to go a few more riders; who were also lost; came up behind us. We stood and stared at railroad tracks for a bit and then the mass start leaders came up from the rear and now Jamie was happy.
We pedaled for +/- 4 hours, got lost several times on terrain that bikes were not intended to traverse. You cannot really describe what we had to ride across – it really was crazy. Dave and Eric met up at the first beer station and stayed together. I lost Jamie (4) times and Geoff twice. I had (2) flats. I found Geoff again and we finished together. Geoff and I finished in the first 20 riders so that was cool since we started so late. Jamie came in about 35 minutes later and Dave and Eric rolled in 5 minutes after that. Jamie was still swearing but now it was intermixed with spouting off directions for the closest Domino’s pizza. The police had come and kicked everyone out of the park so no after-party ensued.
I have never been in an event before where EVERYONE (173 riders) were lost at one point or another…..seriously! I have not hurt that bad in a while. I will do it again. Well done Lone Wolf Cycling but please try to have accurate starting point directions next time.
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