2014 – Mt. Davis Challenge RR – Mens 4/5 Recap


40.3 miles, 4,665 feet, 19.8 average

Sunnybrook racers: Mark Detweiler, John Mullen

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 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.

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!

Look the other way dummy

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.


2014 Brownstown RR 4/5


25.6 miles, 1,083 feet, 25.5 average

Sunnybrook racers: Mark Detweiler, John Mullen, Eric Greenberg, Ryan Waltermyer, Damon Daywalt

Sunnybrook cheerleaders: Glenn Stephenson

Brownstown is a fairly flat circuit race in Lancaster County. Each lap is a little over five miles and has some small rollers. There is one sharp (approx 110  degree) left hand turn and one chicane, but the most notable feature is that the last mile has most of the uphill work, including a decidedly uphill finish.

The 4/5 was doing 5 laps and was starting 1 minute before the 4/5 35+ and 2 minutes before the women’s 3/4.

The race started off pretty hot, but with five Sunnybrook riders in the pack none of us were too shy about doing our share of the work. All five of us had a pretty easy time staying in the front 30, with most of our time spent in the top 10-20. The pace more or less put a block on our pre-race plan of starting a break. There were too many riders working on the front to give a break any chance of staying away.

The group working included some strong new cat-5s as well as some more familiar faces from the local 4 fields. A few of the 5s had major difficulties holding lines and there were a few crazy close calls over the course of the race

There were a few incidents of note over the course of the race. Some appeared to be organization problems, some communication related, and some crashes.

As we finished the first lap our lead car stopped and pulled to the right in a left-hand turn and we rode past it while they executed a hasty driver change…whoops? They went flying by us to re-take the lead position on the next straight

Down the fast downhill stretch of lap 2 the rider in front of me (Paul Orsulak) had someone cut his front wheel out from under him and down he went. I almost locked up the breaks and went around him to the left while Ryan (on my wheel) went to his right. John (immediately to my right) also had a close call but didn’t lose as much speed as the rest of us. Eric (maybe on Ryan’s wheel? a little further back) also had a close call avoiding the rider and bike. Thankfully only the one rider ended up going down but between the adrenaline and sprint to close the gap opened by the heavy breaking I definitely peaked my effort at an unexpected time.

Laps 3 and 4 were relatively uneventful with a few soft break attempts, but more generally fast riding. At the finish of lap 4 we were close to lapping a large portion of the women’s field so we had an unexpected neutralization. The lead car stopped and everyone had to slam on the breaks and come to a very sudden stop. A little warning or announcement next time would help, but other than that I don’t think this impacted the results a ton.

Onto the last lap (and all of us well rested from our short break) we had another near-neutralization coming into the chicane when a pick-up was stopped in our lane and the same large group from the women’s field was still on the course in front of the truck. Unfortunately for me I was on the right of the field and lost all positioning when my line had to slow relative to the rest of the pack to pass the truck.

After passing the women’s riders and the truck the race changed quite a bit. We lost our momentum and were riding 3-wide for the rest of the final lap. This was particularly bad for me as I had been dropped fairly far back in the group by the truck. Still, I could see four Sunnybrook kits in front of me so all was not lost.

At the 1 km to go sign the pace picked up and Eric tried a flier off the front, but with no one to work with he blew up and started drifting backwards as the rest of the group sprinted forward. Damon then took a shot at leading out for Ryan and John but due to the confusion of the finish they couldn’t get on his wheel.

Unfortunately there was a lapped rider riding on the yellow line on the final hill (where the race has the entire road…the only time we don’t have to obey the yellow line rule). Just when everyone wants to sprint there’s a parting of the seas as we all pick a side and pass the rider doing 10 mph on the finishing straight.

With my poor position and this madness in front of me, I took a relaxed approach to the finish and rode past a handful of other riders to finish 30th. Eric, blown up from his flyer off the front, came in at 35th while Damon (similarly popped from his leadout) drifted in 25th. Up front both Ryan and John had good positioning and better legs and finished 3rd and 6th respectively.

To see the chaos of the neutralization and the passing of the women’s riders, here is the flyby of our field and a racer from the Women’s 3/4: http://labs.strava.com/flyby/viewer/#159181636,MbR8CdrZfAk= You can skip to 75% through to see our stoppage and then them continuing and us eventually passing them. You can also see that the organizers were slow getting the women started (about 4 minutes into my ride you can see them start moving)

Course was in great shape and we had some good results with 2 riders in the top 10 and no one getting dropped from the lead field. I wish I’d been able to stay near the front before the chaos on the last lap, but looking back it feels completely out of my control as to why I wasn’t in the top 15 riders. Guys to my left got ahead by a quirk of fate, no more no less. Also was frustrating to have the organizational problems contribute to the chaos of the race, but I don’t think they impacted the results or (more importantly) caused any crashes. It was an uncharacteristically poorly run race as these Lancaster circuit races have weaknesses, but prior to Saturday I wouldn’t have counted fundamental organizational and communication problems among them.

Wish we’d been able to defend Greg’s win from last year, but it was great getting to race with so many teammates

2014 Turkey Hill 3/4


42.4 miles, 2750 feet, 23.7 mph average

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.

2014 Tour de Pitman 4/5


24 miles, 889 feet, 25.5 average

Sunnybrook racers: Mark Detweiler, John Mullen

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

2014 Crossasaurus Awesome – Masters 35+

I arrived at Upper Salford Park at 8:15 to get a pre-ride in before the 9 a.m. race.  The prologue:  longer/straighter into a grass section of corners with some 180’s – widened from last year which would minimize bunching in the bigger fields.  Twice; up & over the dirt mound which is totally ride-able yet turns into a run-up in several of the races.  Next was a nice little off-camber section that was toned down from last year which leads into the (2) long gravel straight-a-ways.  Through (2) 180’s into a log-over which led into the flowing downhill turns before the “get rad” bump & bridge.  They added a set of Belgian steps after the bridge which was sweet.  Once out of the woods you navigate (35) more turns before you jump the barriers, pedal some sand and head back through the start/finish.

Rory and Johnny both had really good starts in the 4/5 field – both in the top (10) after the dirt mounds.  Rory kept moving up through the field but unfortunately Johnny went the other direction.  There were (2) riders that broke off the front in the 2nd lap – with a huge gap the race was on for the 3rd step.  Rory moved up to 6th and held that spot to the finish and scored a SRAM CX1 lid.  Johnny finished at 21st and got a hug from Diana.


I lined up in the 35+ field, second to last row, behind Kremer, in front of teammate Saxman.  Saxman wanted to “day-of” for the full 4/5 race so he came into our race.  After breaking a spoke in warm-up he borrowed Rory’s rear wheel to race.  Whistle blows; I moved up a few spots right away.  All was going well when a rider went down in a narrow, gravel, right-hander bringing the field to a halt.  The front 12 (or so) made it through unscathed and the field split.  Sitting a few riders back from the split I bridged up to Kremer; who had passed me at the crash.  After battling a bit we passed a couple riders but Kremer began stretching his back and our pace eased a bit.


I passed him at the barriers – into “no-mans land” I went.  The next rider had a 30-second gap on me so I hammered on.  The closest I got was about 10 seconds; blew up pretty hard & went in reverse.  With (2 1/2) to go I realized my rear wheel was super low and a group of (4) were starting to gain on me.  I jumped on the gas again; keeping them at bay.  I finished 16th with 18 psi in the rear wheel.  Did I mention the wind?  Let’s not talk about that.


The temperature was awesome.  Added corners numbed the roadie feel and the Belgian steps were a nice bonus.  Philly Ciclismo came through with another fun event!


2014 Iron Cross

Date:  10/05/14
Location:  Michaux State Forest

Stats:  67.6 miles – 7680 feet of ascent – 12.4 mph average

photo 3

I found a nice price in an even better hotel (The Shippen Place Hotel) so I drove out Saturday night. Corner room, floor-to-ceiling windows & king size bed. Perfect place to rest the night before a day of suffering. I got to the start/finish around 8:15 for a 9:00 roll-out…it was friggin’ freezin’. No clouds and super sunny – not that we saw the sun very often in the woods. I lined up towards the back of the pack – today was a ride for me, not a race. My goals today were 1) no crashing 2) no injuries – new or re-aggravating 3) atleast finish the 50K loop 4) finish the complete 100K loop – in that order.

photo 2

We went about 200 yards before I saw the first 3 flats. I have had trouble with my new tubeless set-up so I figured my calamities would flare up soon enough. There is a little prologue loop before hitting the first paved descent – humming along at 48 mph on 38 psi tubeless that you don’t trust – solid! We took a hard right onto a nice gravel ascent to start warming up – all the fire roads out there were awesome! Soon enough we hit some single-track – it was harder to navigate the people walking it than to actually ride it. Eventually we got to the spot that I thought may end my riding for the day – Wigwam. Wigwam is a 300 foot tall hike-a-bike that is straight up – it sucked…totally. It did not tear up my knees/Achilles/ankle as bad as I had feared so I ‘gramd it and moved on.

photo 4

In the first half I rode hard for sections but would stop & stretch until my marker; Derek with Kelpius; would catch up and then I would start off again. It was fun being the only geared dude with all the Philly single-speeders. This tactic kept injury at bay and the first 50K was complete – intact & with no mechanicals. The way the course is set up you can stop by your car for support at the mid-point. I took a good 20 minutes – had a sandwich, changed my jersey and contemplated being done for the day. None-the-less; I saw Jill Morgan (BikeSport) roll out for the 2nd half, so I got my things together and headed back out. I had done a very good job; in the first 50K; of not pushing the body too hard. I figured if I stayed with Jill that I could keep the effort level in check. There was only one other potential hike-a-bike to fear (on the way up to Larry’s Tavern) but I was told “you may be able ride it”. I gave myself a gap when I got there and was able to get up without getting off the bike. At the top MattyB and the Rapp’s were manning Larry’s Tavern – a makeshift Sly Fox Brewery in the woods. I don’t prefer beer but did down a Helles(?) because it was cold….I am still searching for a beer I don’t hate. The last 20 miles of the ride were just hard bike riding. The topography is a lot like WV. The single-track was complete and the rest was all fire roads. The last 10 miles are pretty much uphill – 6 miles at a constant grade on fire roads (my Garmin hit 15% to 19% many times). There was nothing too killer just constant kickers…I imagine that actually “racing” Iron Cross would absolutely wreck you. Once across the finish line I picked up my Iron Cross socks, cleaned up & changed, ate some awesome BBQ and got on the road heading home.

Iron Cross is probably the best mix of terrain I have ever ridden. It is amazing that someone laid out this route and can pull off the event. The scenery is spectacular. The gravel fire roads are endless. The single-track is beautiful. I hope they can bring it back to Michaux State Forest so I can do it again – hopefully to actually race it.

2014 Nittany Lion Cross – Old Man League

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.

~ Glenn


Double win weekend at the QCW Arsenal Crits in Philadelphia

Sunnybrook / Limerick Chiropractic / Bikesport riders won two races at the Philadelphia based Criteriums this past weekend.

Eric Greenberg took his first road win by clinching the Men’s Cat 4/5 race, with a strong sprint from the final corner. His in-video metrics shows his heart rate holding at 199bpm and holding a solid >1100 watts for the finish.

Greg Sherrick then made it a double win by taking first place in the Men’s 3/4 race at the same event. He went in a two man break with around 3 laps to go, and took the victory in a sprint finish.

Congratulations to both of them, and well done to our other racers who were active over the weekend.

Eric’s on bike video:

Eric’s recap :


Greg’s sideline cheering finish video:

Lower Providence Criterium 2014 Mens Cat 4 Recap

Mens Cat 4 Race report by Jamie.

  • 4 corner crit, hard 90′ corners.
  • Sunnybrook Mens Cat 5: Damon
    Sunnybrook Mens Cat 4: Jamie, Jim, John.
    Sunnybrook members not racing, but supporting today: Many!
  • 18.6 miles total distance
  • 42 minutes racing time
  • 26.5 mph average
  • Trek Madone 7.9 Dura-Ace Di2, Bontrager Aeolus 3 clincher wheels, Garmin 500.

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.

Strava stuff: http://www.strava.com/activities/129911812

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