The NCVC Men/Women/Masters/Juniors squads have been busy the past two months. Catch up with our recent results...
Black Hills Circuit Race – Boyds, MD – Sunday, March 22, 2015
Women's 1/2/3 – Alexis Zink
A small field lined up for Sunday's race, with 13 cat 1/2/3s and 16 cat 4s. I traded Mary my old saddle for her help in this race, so I hoped that my winter "elliptical and weight training plan" had worked. The race started out at a surprisingly decent pace and the three of us stayed up near the front. As we went up the hill with seven to go, I attacked over the top and down the hill to switch things up a bit. Mary yelled that she and Clio were there....perfect. I had said a few weeks ago that I thought we could sweep the podium at this race and it looked like things were going well. Michele Scherer and Sophie Mittelstadt were also with us.
Mary went to the front and took a very strong pull for the next half lap, keeping the pace high. I noticed that Michele was leaving a slightly large gap behind Mary, so as we got to the hill again, I attacked the group up and over the top.
I looked back a bit later and Mary was about 10 seconds back, with Clio/Michele/Sophie about 10 seconds behind her. At this point, there wasn't much else to do but keep a steady pace for the rest of the race. I wanted to somehow tell Mary to get out of "no man's land" and fall back to help Clio get rid of the others, but figured she'd be ok (however, I think we'd need to work on this a bit more at bigger and longer races).
At some point in race, Clio dropped Sophie and Michele dropped her chain. I kept going, counting down the laps, keeping my distance about 10 seconds away from the field. Clio caught up to Mary and they had an enjoyable ride. Clio commented on Mark's new haircut, it made his day, and Mary led Clio out to get second and hopefully some upgrade points. I somehow did an extra lap and finished after everyone.
There was unfortunately a bad crash involving one of our own, Michelle Neff (in her first road race...), which needed the assistance of an ambulance. Michelle reports that she is ok, but her face is a bit banged up. Get well soon, Michelle!
Black Hills is my probably my favorite race of the year, partially due to the large NCVC fanbase that is usually present. Sweeping the podium was a nice way to finish the race! Thanks for everyone's support
Men’s Cat 4 - Francisco Covas
10 laps, roughly 15 miles. We had a decent size NCVC contingent at Black Hills, despite the overlap with the Cat 4/5 camp. The game plan was to stay close to the front and not push too hard until lap 6. The first few laps were controlled by a couple of DT guys (including Jay Owen, former NCVC), with Scott Kaplan, Ryan Bowen and Brian Archer very close to the front. I tried to follow Brian’s wheel as close as possible. The hostilities started around lap 3 and continued until the end of the race. We had breaks from Jay, and the two Haymarket guys, Gram Smith and George Schulz, and maybe a couple of other riders. I saw George winning a bunch of CX races last year so was hoping to get on his wheel as soon as he attacked. George attacked once but it didn’t stick. The second time Gram attacked, around lap 8, he was able to separate from the pack and arrived solo at the finish line (by 18 seconds or so). On the last lap, a rider from the Naval Postgrad School attacked and a RCV rider and I chased him down. The three of us managed to get a gap from the rest of the pack with the help of Ryan and Randy Napiza which were at the front of the pack on the final lap. As we got to the final sprint I was able to pass the rider from the Naval Postgrad School for third with the folks in the pack a couple of bike lengths behind us.
Men's 3/4 - Eric Voigt
From the very first lap there was a break. At first, it was a good sized group with 5 or 6 people including 2 NCVC riders. As the next couple of laps went by, more and more people began to drop from the break until it was only Logan Breed and a racer from Ducatti.
A chase group of 4 or 5 went for the break. I hopped on and rode with them for 1/2 a lap until the main hill when I attacked. I wasn't going all out at first, just to make sure I wasn't bringing anyone up with me. Once I was certain no one was tagging along, I went full gas and caught up to the break.
We ran a pace line for a few laps and got a largest gap of 30 seconds. With 4 to go I made an attack on the break which lasted for a little over 2 laps. When I was reeled back in, the pack had shortened the gap to 10 seconds. For the last lap and a half we put all we had left into staying away.
When I approached the hill for the last time, I looked back to make sure no one was close, then went for the sprint. I started my sprint early to wear out the Ducatti rider and crossed the line with almost a bike length.
Also, awesome job to Elliott James Collins for getting 3rd in the bunch sprint. Unfortunately, my poorly timed attacked caused Logan to get a finish in the pack, but he put in an awesome effort in the break. Nice racing by Dan Schwartz, and Willio Jean Paul as well.
Jeff Cup Road Race– Charlottesville, VA, Sunday
Men's 1/2/3 – Dan Drumwright
At the Line: Daniel Drumwright, Payne Griffin, Paul Lengermann, James Smittkamp, Bert Garcia, Christopher Hair, Eric (Mr.Natural)Voigt
After seeing the riders that signed up for this year’s race and the fact that the race was longer than previous years, my goal this year was to simply finish the race.
Attacks started during the first half of the race with Payne Griffin getting himself in a five man break and quickly creating a minute lead on the main peloton. In hopes to maintain the gap Bert Garcia, Eric Voigt , Paul Lengermann and Christopher Hair worked the front making sure any attempts to bring back the break was stopped. During the second half of the race the break was caught which caused a reshuffle of the main peloton, while this was going on i saw an opportunity to get myself to the front preparing for the final break attempt that we all knew was coming.
With three laps to go a break of six guys went up the road, the break had the right combination of teams and i realized we had to be in that group. Thanks to James Smittkamps massive effort to bridge me close enough to the break, i worked my way up and joined them. The break quickly stablished a large gap , i did enough work at the front to keep the break from pushing me out and to stop Kelly Benefit ’s from whining . Soon after four more riders bridged to the break and the odds turned against me as i had no teammates to work with ; District Velocity had 2 riders, DC Velo 2 riders, Battley 3 riders and Kelly 3 riders.
At the end i figured that if the break kept it together until 1K to go i would have had a chance at the sprint, but attacks started happening a lot sooner than i expected and i was unable to close the gap and finished in 10th place instead.
Women's 1/2/3 – Mary Breed
At the line:
Mary Breed (1), Clio Dinan (1 – Cat 3), Alexis Zink (2), Amy Creed (13)
For most of the race it appeared that the harsh weather left many of the women still in winter shape. There were a variety of attacks throughout the race that were easily and quickly pulled back. The NCVC ladies controlled the field and pace the entire time.
With 1 mile to go the entire pack was still together and the pace started to pick up. I was tucked in behind Alexis and Clio was tucked in behind me. ABRT formed a pace line on the left and Amy nestled herself right into ABRT’s line to gum things up a bit. With 1 kilometer to go Alexis started one of the most beautiful lead-outs I have ever seen, launching Clio and I into the final 400m. Clio and I both sprinted for the finish and each took 1st place in our respective categories. Alexis flew across the line to take 2nd place and the rest of the field finished well over a minute behind us!
Wow, am I excited about this season!
Men's 45+ – Brooke Edinger
At the Line:
Brook Edinger (7th),Bill Luecke (9th),John Blumenauer (15th),Pete Lindeman (16th),Tom Godfrey (18th),Harry Fang (19th), Jim Johnson (22d), Ray Trentini (24th), Marc Klein (in the mix, but not scored)
TL;DR: Bill went with two 35+ guys with 15 miles to go and flogged himself to stay away. I followed an attack by Nelmes (joined by Stearns and a 35+) to bridge up. Great blocking by the team and the break stayed away.
All the juicy details: Team effort in the race, and in the race report. I wrote the boring stuff, and Bill wrote the good stuff. Mixed field of 35+ and 45+, so the expectation was that the 35s would go from the gun, which they did. Within a mile there was a touch of wheels that took out Barsi and another rider, who was somersaulting beautifully down the road until he jumped up and got out of the way of the pack. Guess he was ok. First 3-4 laps the pace was pretty high with many attacks (mostly by 35s), a few of which stuck for a while. We all worked to stay in the front and out of trouble, which worked well.
After the fast descent of Blenheim with 1.5 laps to go, Bill rolled off the front just as two 35+ guys rolled away. They went through a group that was dangling 50m in front of the field and so did Bill. He linked up with them after the turn, but was right at the limit. Bill took his pulls, but got popped on the last roller before the turn onto the finish straight.
Bill was dangling in no man’s land for a while on the straightaway, hoping for a mechanical, a bridge group, or the field to take him out of his agony when the moto came up and told him he had 45 seconds on the field. So, with no relief in sight, he got back to work.
Near the start/finish, a group of 4 with Mike Kingery (Bike Lane), Neil Markus (DC Velo), and two 35+ guys caught Bill. He tagged on, skipped a pull to recover, and pressed on with them. Bill says he “died a thousand deaths on that stretch” trying to hang on and make sure he didn’t get popped. Markus probed several times before the turn onto Blenheim, but it always came back together.
Another group latched on during the climb over Blenheim. I think this group had Rob Laybourn, and some 35+ guys. Bill tried to explain to the 35s that their race was still up the road – figuring that they would give the 45+ guys a free ride to the finish. However, when his HR is above 180, he’s a bit incoherent, so no free ride.
Over the top Bill refocused on a single thought: “Your job here is to not get dropped from this breakaway.” He sat on the back for a while after the descent. At that point one of the 35+ guys decided to see where the field was, looked over his shoulder, rode right into the guy in front of him and crashed hard. They gave it no further thought and left him for dead.
Most of the time on the rest of the third leg Bill says he kept thinking, “You have to be willing to lose in order to win.” So, he continued to bury himself with the rest of the break. If the field caught, so be it.
Meanwhile, back in the pack, Jim, John and Ray zipped to the front and shut things down once Bill got away. Through the last turn and the bell, a couple other folks slipped away, including Rob Laybourn and Neil Markus (DC Velo). After the bell, near the top of the kicker, John Nelmes attacked and I jumped on his wheel. As we passed the front of the pack, I looked over and saw lots of stars and bars and figured we had a good shot. Mike Stearns and a Kelly 35+ joined us going into the climb, and we hit it really hard to catch the break, which looked to be about 8 riders.
Candidly, I did not realize Bill was in the break, so I worked. I suppose from a tactical perspective it might have been best for me not to work, but we didn’t drag the pack with us, so hopefully OK in the end. After a really hard effort, we caught the break on the final uphill stretch on the back side. Bill was completely at the limit and slipping out the back door when we got there. He had been well into the red zone for about 25 minutes by then and was just hanging on by a thread. Luckily, the group started watching each other and Bill caught back on. After that he was 100% in damage control mode to stay connected until the finish. Bill was disappointed by the number of guys catching his group, but happy to finally have a teammate in the mix.
When we caught Bill’s group, we had about 3 miles to the finish, and worked together sporadically, with every move getting chased at a ridiculous speed.
As for me, I was beginning to cramp, and just did my best to keep the pedals turning. When we got on the final stretch, the pace lit up early, and I surfed from one surge to the next. With cramps coming on, and my modest sprint, I was pretty happy just to stay connected to the front riders and get 7th, with Bill coming in 9th right behind.
It was a fantastic team effort, with the entire team working well and sensibly, and delivering Bill and me to the top 10 in a tough race.
Per Bill: “The moral of the story is something I learned 25 years ago. You have to take risks to do well. It doesn't matter how you motivate yourself to take that risk, but you have to do it.”
Carl Dolan – Columbia, MD , Sunday April 12, 2015
Junior 13-14 Boys - Alex Kasch
The 13-14 Carl Dolan race was fun and a good learning experience. Right at the whistle, the top riders took off like a bottle rocket with extra baking soda! At first I thought I would get dropped, but the pace soon slowed and the older kids rode ahead (all junior age groups started together.) The lead group in the 13-14 boy's race consisted of Iain MacKeith, Sam Kristy (Endorphin), Owen Brennamen (Nuts About Granola) and Daniel Konoplev (who was in the 15-16 race) and me. An RCV rider was with us at the beginning but he was soon dropped. At the end of the first lap, Sam attacked hard and had a 50 yard gap on us, but nobody went with him So he fell back. The pace slowed slightly over the course of about 5 laps, enought for the RCV rider to bridge back up. The pace was steady until maybe 2 laps to go, when it started to rise again. On the final lap, I attacked on the climb, hoping to take Iain and Daniel with me, but nobody followed. "Okay" , I thought. "I'll just go by myself." I felt good when I reached the top, but not good enough for the long false flat I forgot was at the top! "Uh-oh", I thought, and right then Sam, Iain, and Dan go by. I'm not sure how Dan placed but Sam nipped Iain at the finish, taking the win while Iain placed second and I took third. Owen followed us with RCV on his wheel. It was a fun, successful race for NCVC, and I had a good time.
Boys Juniors 15-16 - Will Nelson
Race started pretty fast, after a misstep at the line I had to punch pretty hard up the side to make sure I was near enough to the front to be in touch with any moves that might happen, and sure enough, less than 15 seconds after I breached the front line there was a multi rider acceleration and the break was made. The break was heavily RCV, with only Chris and myself from NCVC, a single Kelly Benefits rider, and a single Miller School rider. RCV quickly took charge and ratcheted up the pace, pretty early on there was a second attack, no one was in a position to join and two or three RCV riders went up the road.
As we crossed the 200m line for the first lap, someone shouted that the break had 20 seconds on us, and with the RCV riders controlling the group it seemed likely that they would stay out, at this point I pulled Chris over and we agreed to just sit out of the wind and wait for a sprint, over hearing us the RCV guys struck up a conversation going something along the lines of "we aren't working, you guys aren't, the Miller School kid can't, so we might as well get comfortable." Right around now we all became pretty sure that we were the final selection, I couldn't see anyone back and the pace had been and was staying pretty crazy, with RCV holding us at about 25mph to keep from anyone trying to head up the road.
By now the break consisted of 4 RCV guys, Chris and me and the Miller School kid, somewhere along the line we dropped Kelly Benefits. RCV starting slinging their remaining riders up the road, and since they had the front and the pace there was little we could do, the second time they tried this I immediately came to the front and pumped the pace up to a just sub sprint, as they were trying to send other riders to follow the rider they had just sent up the road, and it worked. The pace slowed and I had essentially written off the break away and was focused on racing against the group I was with, I knew I couldn't be in a bad position coming into the final climb as the pace would go through the roof and I would likely be dropped, so with a few laps to go I decided to test a few launch pads.
I settled on the last right hander, and decided if it was all together I would launch from there on the last lap, and take the climb on my own terms. And so it became a waiting game, trying to stay out of the wind and look weak so I had the best chance of being disregarded, coming into the last downhill I set up wide hoping to cut the turn close and carry maximum speed as well as making it harder for anyone to follow, the Miller School kid seemed to have an idea of what was happening and tried to force me as close to the cones as possible, I managed to hold my line and cut the turn pretty hard, as soon as I thought my pedal would clear the ground I dropped and launched, I knew that I didn't want to give everything to this move since A)
I wasn't sure I was the strongest rider in the break and B) I needed something left for the last hill. After 20-30 seconds of head down sprint, I checked and had strung out the group, with a single rider within 3 bike lengths and a few others out of range. By the base of the climb the single rider had caught on due to me slowing so I had a chance at staying with him for the climb, as soon as we hit the base of the climb, he latched on my wheel and I knew it was most likely over unless he was way weaker or stupider than he looked, he rode my wheel all the way up and by the top my legs were on fire, a kind spectator reminded him to wait as long as he could before launching so I knew if I was going to have a shot I was going to have to make it happen, so I slowed ever so slightly and waited for him to begin to launch, as soon as he stood I put everything I had down, which wasn't much, he quickly pulled around and began accelerating, once he had two bike lengths with 100 to go I sat back down and checked over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't losing anymore spots. Finding it clear I launched for show with 30m to go and came across. After a results mishap, it was settled that I ended up in third after a rider in the break and the kid who beat me in the sprint. As for Chris, he unfortunately dropped his chain at 500 to go and finished at the back of the break away group. All in all I was pretty happy with my second race of the season and am looking forward to plenty more podiums this season!
Men’s CAT 4/5 – Marc Koblentz
At the line:
Marc Koblentz (6th),Brian Archer,Terry Fuller,Jeremy Cannon,Scott Kaplan,Lucas Bierne,Santiago Yepez
Brian Archer was all set to do the 3/4 race; he warmed up, took the start, and promptly busted his chain before he had his second foot clipped in. I don’t know what kind of one-footed wattage caused this calamity! In any event, he got it fixed in time to race the 4/5 field instead.
So the race began, and a small handful of guys immediately took off on the breakaway; none from NCVC. We pretty much just all laughed and knew we’d see the break come back soon. Lap one was eventful; we took the turn at the bottom of the hill and Brian, apparently so excited that his chain hadn’t busted at the start this time, somehow took a bad line and hit a hole, crashed and slid towards the outside of the turn.
The race organizers had very helpfully painted an orange circle around the hole, but it was right smack in the middle of the turn, and I guess he didn’t see it until he was in it. In any event, his bike slid out towards the left, and about three riders including me had to lock up our brakes and go way wide to avoid him. My rear wheel skidded sideways and I was afraid I was going to hit the curb, but thankfully I got it back under control and slowed enough to avoid the curb, without crashing. I then had to quickly downshift and chase to grab back onto the back of the peloton, but I knew it was only lap 1, and I had plenty of time to recover, so I didn’t panic. By lap three, I had gotten back up to about 10th wheel, which is more or less where I wanted to be and where I spend most of the rest of the race.
Each time up the hill, I was able to move up in position, so that helped my confidence. Throughout the race, various breakaway attempts were launched, but none stayed away. Brian and I had decided before the race not to join any breakaways, as we figured the wind would make them unlikely to stay away. I don’t think anyone from NCVC strayed off the front in this race. Brian, who had crashed on lap 1, reappeared around lap 3 or 4, having quickly gotten back on his bike and chased to rejoin the peloton. The bar tape on his right handlebar was ripped and flapping in the wind, but he was right back up towards the front. Late in lap 7, he saw me and motioned for me to get on his wheel. I did, and fought traffic to stay there for most of the final two laps. I made sure to be in the first ten or so wheels in the final turn, to avoid crashes.
Naturally, some folks began their sprint quickly after the turn, and I wheelsucked them for the free speed. As they bonked with maybe 400 meters to go, the second wave of more patient, but still not patient enough, sprinters came by, and I jumped on their wheels for the rest of the hill. I heard three crashes behind me, one of which sounded like it was directly behind my rear wheel, but I just focused straight ahead. You know those action movies where the airplane takes off from an exploding airfield, and the flames are rising up “justhisclose" behind it as it gains speed and altitude? I felt like that airplane as I tried to accelerate and stay ahead of all the crashing I was hearing just behind me! Very, very scary. I found out later than one of those crashes was, naturally, Scott Kaplan experiencing his seemingly-ever-other-race communion with the asphalt. He said a crash happened right in front of him and he had nowhere to go but down.
In any event, as the road flattened out with 200 meters to go I knew I was in really good position. I tried to stand and sprint at about 150 meters to go, but I was fatigued at this point and just didn’t have much power left. So I just pedaled as fast as I could and ended up 6th, which I think earned me one upgrade point, so I was pleased with that. As Brian and I did a cool-down lap, we came across Lucas lying on the ground at about the 200 meter-to-go point, where he had crashed. Lucas was being attended to by the ambulance crew, and they took him to the hospital. He apparently landed on his face but he’s basically ok after a few hours getting stitched up in the ER. Scott had some road rash but seemed mostly ok; same for Brian. Not really sure what else happened in the race with Terry, Santiago and Jeremy; I never really saw them much during the race. Anyway, on to All American next week!
Women's Cat4 - Joanne Neukirchen
At the line: Joanne Neukirchen (2nd), Michelle Neff (6th), Lauren Peterson
As a newbie, I've been guzzling advice like a Mack Truck. Thanks to sprint practice with Michelle and the kind advice of several patient teammates, I was in a position to sprint to the podium. The game changing advice for Dolan included: 1) Find the fastest wheel on the final hill (Brian) and leap frog wheels to position for the sprint (Paul); 2) Swing wide to ditch freeloaders (Alexis); 3) Don't use the holes to pin your number to your jersey. It's not...Clio proceeds to repin my number before the race. #soaero. I'm convinced it made the difference between 2nd and 3rd <grin>.
The race was a 17.5 mile joy ride with a surge into the final sprint. Each NCVC lady took a brief turn at the front to mix it up and Lauren made sure the other riders' mental game was on-point with the best color commentary.
Several teams had at least two riders in the mix, but only Rock Creek Velo raced as a team with a short-lived attack up the hill on the 7th or 8th lap and a lead out into the final sprint.
The fight for position began on the descent into the final turn as the pace finally picked up. Michelle and I were in the top 10 wheels. I tucked behind the RCV train on the inside line and rode that to the base of the hill, swung right to ride an unaffiliated wheel for 75m, hopped left onto a wheel that surged and faded so fast our wheels met and squealed, and then quickly moved left again into an open lane. At this point, a RCV coach yelled "Find another gear" and I thought, "Oh. I've got 2 or 3 gears left, I should go!" We had maybe 350m left at that point? Diana from Artemis launched her sprint first and before I knew it, we were drag racing to the finish. Next time, I'll remember to use my drops.
Men's 35+ - Harry Fang
At the line: Brook Edinger, Harry Fang, David Gates, Tom Godfrey, Scot Jaworski, Pete Lindeman, Bill Luecke, Mark Scott, Curt Southern, Ray Trentini. and Will Wong.
Pre-race discussion was to go with the attacks as well as lead Will Wong out at the end.
The Masters 45+ and 55+ doubles up races and joins the 35+ guys hoping to have Will on the podium.
The 35+ race had small bursts of attacks but for the most part it was just at a smooth fast pace. LSV Kelly, Evolution, Battley Harley, Bike Doctor and NCVC all seemed to have a solid presence and no one really let anything go except for the initial attack and break for several laps by Mike Esmonde of Evolution and another rider. I think everyone knew they couldn't stay away because of the power in the field as well as not all of the major teams were represented. I believe we caught them by the 4th lap and things just seem to settle in for a fast pace.
Fast forward to the last lap: Riders were jockeying for positioning, Curt yelled for me to get on his wheel, unfortunately he was on the left outside and I was on the middle right side with a couple of riders between. I couldn't find a way to his wheel, but Will was there, though I had over a half lap to go. If I remember properly Tom Godfrey was there too. Up the hill, Curt was making his way upwards and got caught in traffic, Tom somehow made his way towards the middle, I followed Dave Fuentes, Michael Kingery, Mike Stearns thinking they would power it up the hill and find an opening on the right side. It opened up for a little bit then when people ran out of steam, I weaved through the left side at the top of the hill then gunning it for the line and surprisingly at the line there was no one ahead.
Right to me was Andy Cicero and another guy, who I thought I may have nipped at the line as I was carrying more speed, and gave a fist pump when I saw there was no one ahead. Unfortunately checking the video finish with the judges the camera showed that we were just fractions of an inch apart and I took 3rd. This was definitely a photo finish as the judges had to roll frame by frame to see the difference. Originally, Andy had thought I had beaten him, but I gave him the good news that it showed him crossing the line first. I didn’t see Doug Philippone’s wheel as I thought he was behind Andy on the right, as my initial concern was Andy. So the results was posted, that I ended up 3rd. Tom Godfrey ended up shortly behind.
Lesson learned that you need a strong lead out train (at least 4 guys gunning it from before the bottom of the hill to really make sure you don’t get caught up in the uphill finish and the sprinter needs to be very patient as it is a long way to the finish line. Hopefully, that was the info we could pass on to the Elite race.
The positives for me is that my legs are starting to come back, back/hips don't hurt as much and I could double up in races and finish respectfully. My head is back into knowing I can compete and podium again. Keep your fingers crossed for good luck on my back issues. I did do a self personal bike fitting a couple days before and I think that helped a bit. Shortened my stem, it has a drop instead of the rise I had with my 13 cm stem. Checked seat height and positioning based on knee position over the spindle. Now, I need to work on my sprints again.
Men's Cat 3/4–Myles Matterson
On the line in the Cat 3/4 we had Willio Jean Paul, Brendan O'Hara, Elliott James Collins, Dan Schwartz, William Henry Mikolajczak (who podiumed in the Cat 4), and myself. Given the unlikelihood of a break sticking, we had a loose plan to patrol the front to keep things together to set up for a sprint finish.
The race wasn't terribly fast, which meant that we had a lot of bunching and sketchy racing. NCVC was well represented near the front throughout, in particular Elliott. I was in the top 10 going into the last lap but on the first corner got stuck behind a guy who stopped pedaling, got boxed in, and got mobbed behind 40+ racers. I had to be very aggressive on the back half to move up and came through the final corner about 25th. I saw other NCVC jerseys up the road on the left but was stuck moving up the right side of the road behind an Artemis surge.
I ended up between the Artemis sprinter and his lead-out man. The lead-out guy jumped at 500 meters near the bottom of the hill. Right when he launched it seemed like the whole field moved left. I heard a pileup off to the left and behind me--that was the big one that brought down Elliott and Brendan.
The Artemis guy popped 300 meters from the finish and I had no wheels to follow so I launched my sprint. I checked over my shoulder at 150 to go and thought I had a 10 bike length lead and held it to the line. The results sheet was never finalized so we have yet to determine other NCVC placings, but we do know that Will took 3rd in the Cat 4 field.
Video of the lead of the race and last 750 meters here: Link to video. Elliott got pretty banged up with a collarbone/shoulder injury but hopefully we get good news in a diagnosis soon!
Men's Cat 5 - Ryan Hill
The race kicked off early and conditioned were perfect. NCVC was well represented, but unfortunately, we haven't ridden together and didn't use numbers to our advantage. Shame shame, I know! It was the first race for two folks and Vince Tur-Rojas and I chatted about trying to stick together for a finish, but kept getting lost in the shuffle.
My impression was that the field was somewhat reluctant to push the tempo. It seemed to go hard into the hill just to fade after each lap, allowing the field to compress. This made positioning difficult and I found myself losing ground that I worked to gain each lap. I debated on the being the aggressor, but found myself repeatedly working for position back into the top 10.
No break away attempts held, and even the one true effort was flagged for going across the double line and the motorbike ref put him back into the fold. Prepping for the final launch, DC Velo worked their way to the front. I tried to follow, but opted the safe route as folks aggressively sprinted down the hill on the right side into the turn where Brian Archer had his spill. I was probably 20th+ wheel at the bottom of the hill. I felt good and decided to start my sprint before the 500M sign...way earlier than anticipated. I was able to hammer through to the finish and snagged 5th. I'm not sure where others finished, but will update when results are posted.
Lesson learned: Positioning and check the race results. The lap computer didn't pick up two of my laps and had me placed at the bottom. I spoke to the USAC rep and viewed the tape/splits for the correction.
Lastly, I want to thank Curtis and the guys at Freshbikes for fixing my front derailer issue on Saturday in preparation for the race.
Men's 45+ - Pete Lindeman
We had 10 or 11 guys out of 60 at the start, so decided to attack early and often to try to break up an otherwise destined-for-field sprint kind of race. Brook went first right out of the start, I countered, got away with 3 others for a lap, got caught, reshuffled the players, then went again.
This time we had all the right teams plus teammates Ray and Harry. 3 of 12, let's roll it! Ray and I ended up doing a lot of the work, trying to save Harry for the finish. I took a few solo attacks as the race wound down but that wasn't happening. It was basically a 7-man mass sprint from 500m, and I managed to get... 7th. Harry was 5th actually, the sprint was really close, not much more than a bike length or two among the top 6.
Would love to describe the action back in the field, but we never saw it. 20 miles of breakaway. Good day at the office.
Men's 35 + - Harry Fang
At the line:
Brook Edinger, Harry Fang, Tom Godfrey, Scot Jaworski, Marc Klein, Pete Lindeman, Bill Luecke, Ricky Monterosa, Tom Snyder, John Sylvester, andRay Trentini.
We gathered for our pre-race meeting and paired up guys to attack and counter attack and if the pack stays together we would line up and lead me out at the end.
As soon as the first lap started there were several quick attacks, one by Brook, which were brought back quickly and then Pete Lindeman and a couple of other guys went away. NCVC was at the front Mario Zometa (one of last year’s major BAR competitor to Tom Godfrey) attacked hard and since I was up front, I jumped on his wheel knowing that I would make him work to bridge up to Pete. He turned around and looked at me and I said I had a teammate up there and never went around to help him, so he continued to go at his pace slowly bridging up to Pete. We slowed a bit after catching Pete and we still had a good gap but about 8 others came bridging up from behind including Ray Trentini.
After we regrouped, it was only a few guys pushing the pace. I thought for sure we would get caught. Neil Markus of DC Velo was very vocal yelling at others to work. Several of us took long pulls, but that would just have caused those individuals to blow up and again the pace slowed. Neil and I encouraged the other guys who weren’t DC Velo or NCVC to pull through with very short pulls, as we were the ones doing most of the work and we started working well opening the gap back up on the pack from 30 seconds to about a minute. I went for the first prime and unfortunately Mario was on my tail and nipped me at the line to take the prime. We gapped our group and I told him I would fall back as I was gassed from the effort, legs screaming.
We got back with the group and continued to work together as best as we could, I tried to stay in the back to recover as my legs felt pretty weak. 3rd to the last lap, I was thinking this would be the lap someone would attack and get away but no chance. Last lap, however one was still showing up on the lap counter, and I asked Neil Markus if this was the last lap, he of course said we had one more to go. I didn’t believe him and asked Ray, he confirmed it was the last lap. We all slowed up playing around no one wanting to do the work. I was thinking we would be caught if we didn’t work.
Pete took a couple of attacks to see if he could get away, which helped keep the pace up as someone would chase him down. Final stretch up to the top, John Nelms (previous 45+ BAR Champ) and Mario attacked hard. I was a bit further back and tried to get on their wheel and tried to pass on the left but was in the wind too much and was out of energy as I approached the finish line only to be nipped by 2 other riders at the line by an inch and ended 5th. I was very disappointed as I had let the guys down and thought I ended up 3rd, but the legs were fried. (More sprint work for me!)
Thanks to a great team effort by all in working in the break as well as working to disrupt the field so they couldn’t bridge up.
Men’s 1/2/3– James Smittkamp
At the line for NCVC we had Paul Lengermann, Bert Garcia, Dan Drumwright, Eric Voigt, Chris Hair, Evan Wheeler, Payne Griffin, Tom Godfrey, Jim Smittkamp, Myles Matteson, Chris Khanoyan, and Willio Jean Paul.
We had pure commitment across the board, were represented in every move throughout the race, and had 5+ riders in the top 20 wheels on the bell lap. Because of our relentless presence at the front of the race no breakaways stuck. EVERYONE contributed to this which allowed Chris and me to stay out of the wind. On the bell lap Dan kept me in perfect position while Paul, Myles, Payne, and Tom surrounded us at the front to keep the pace high. Imagine the DC Velo “train” with STARS AND BARS peppered between every other wheel to disrupt their collaboration – it was INCREDIBLE. As we crested the hill on the final lap the sprint started and I finished 3rd with Chris a few wheels behind me at 6th. It was truly a team effort and everyone contributed.
Our suspicion for this year’s race at Dolan was that it would ultimately come down to a field sprint. As such we decided before the race that we would not miss any moves, but would not work in a move unless we had two guys in the split. In other words – if you are alone in a split you are just there for the free ride until a teammate bridges or the field catches (I told to Payne to pretend he went to a house party when he heard there was a keg but didn’t bring any money to chip in for the beer). If the field was together with 3 to go, Evan, Chris and I were designated to be the finishers and anyone else who still had legs were to get up front to pitch in.
Like I mentioned earlier, everyone contributed to the “welding” effort on at the front of the race including Eric, Bert, Myles, Paul, Payne “the WATTAGE COTTAGE”, Dan, and Tom “the TRAIN”.
(Side note - this was Tom’s 5th race of the weekend and he was still covering moves throughout the race and in the front on the bell lap. My advice to anyone out there looking to improve their racing game is to learn as much as you can from this guy. He is smooth, incredibly strong, and very deliberate with his energy.)
As attacks would launch over the hill and on the back stretch we always had one guy following and a 2nd and/or 3rd in the response – this is exactly how it should go. There were several splits throughout the race but with 3 laps to go it seemed that a field sprint was inevitable.
On the 2nd to last lap Dimitri from DC Velo (young gun that won Black Hills) threw down a strong attack on the crest of the hill which drew out a dangerous group off the front with about 8 riders. Evan Wheeler aka “the Sheriff” stuck to his wheel and was joined by Paul “the Hulk” in what the announcer was calling the winning move.
As we rolled through on the bell lap we caught this move and everyone started lining up for the field sprint. Dan and I had been together after Evan covered the late move so he kept me in position while Paul, Myles, Tom and Payne positioned themselves in the top 10 wheels. The final downhill turn was very tight as everyone jockeyed for position but our guys kept the pace high and control at the front along with the DC Velo riders who were disorganized by our presence. Before we crested the very top of the hill the Harley Sprinter got antsy and went early which drew out DJ, Nick Taylor, and me. I knew it was time to go so I followed their wheel, with Chris H. close behind and we proceeded to mash it out to the finish line. I got 3rd and Chris got 6th (though we accidentally snuck him into the podium picture because of the confusion over 5th / 6th).
Thanks to everyone in the club for their support and especially to the team for their commitment to our collective result. See you all out there soon
Cherry Blossom Challenge – Newark, New Jersey Saturday April 11, 2015
Men's 45+ - Tom Godfrey
Summary - I'd been itching to race (all through our crazy winter) and when Chantilly was scratched off the MABRA calendar, I decided to hit the road and head to Jersey. Tried to convince a couple of masters to come along ... but the glamour of rolling out of Arlington at 3:30 am, watching the sun rise on the NJ Turnpike, and a 9 am start in NJ doesn't appeal to many (so I was flying the Stars & Bars, solo, in "hostile" territory -- these guys crashed me out of the M45 break-away in the same race last year ... and I certainly had not forgotten that point).
The Cherry Blossom Challenge course is similar to (and nearly as technical as) Hains Point ... just a 2 mile loop (like a NASCAR circuit). The race is about the cross-wind (and has been for the past several years I've made the journey). We lined up for the M45+ start with a field of about 70 starters -- I was at the very back of the start group reading the jerseys, teams, body language, and noticed at least one set of world champion stripes and another (couple of) former national champions in the group. I've raced most of these guys before and have learned to NEVER underestimate any of the engines in that region.
First lap goes like a bat out of, well, Jersey... seriously, I don't know why the kids needed to roll with the cross/tail wind at 32 mph for 1.7 miles, then we hit the headwind and the group slowed dramatically and I rolled up the right side of the group, one guy (from Death Row Velo, who I didn't actually know), goes full gas, solo, into the head-wind and I thought (inspired by blaring Bon Jovi for several hours and going down "in a blaze of glory ...") I wasn't going to draw first (and this was very early), but went after him (with one solid anchor on my wheel, the guy on the left in the picture below) and went to work.
What was kind of unusual (at least for me), was that this was the very end of the first lap (we had 10 laps, so about 18 miles of racing left) and the three of us didn't know each other (I found out afterwards, they'd already marked me, before the race started) and we started working. together. flawlessly. without any pre-arranged plan. None of us surged, jumped, skipped or missed a pull for the next 17 miles and the rotation was awesome.
We started getting time splits each lap (the Death Row Velo guy had a bunch of team-mates at the finish line giving all kinds of information, some of which was actually useful, other tid-bits a bit more colorful, but that's racing too). Once we worked the gap to over a minute on the field, I knew we were solid and this was the podium. We had several intermediate sprints (they were finishing out an early season points series) and I told the guys I wasn't sprinting and we just needed to keep it steady (and I think that kept everyone committed, knowing I wasn't going after their sprint points).
On the last lap, I took one long (last pull) through the final corner (over 1K from the finish). The Death Row Velo guy was stuck to my wheel so I swung wide right (the shortest line was left) and slowed down and left the other guy (on the front) alone on the left side of the road. Death Row Velo guy got nervous, jumped back up to the other guy (who had opened up a little gap, ahead of us) and I just followed in third wheel. Then I just waited patiently (in 3rd position) as we slow rolled the next 500M (and I triple checked to make sure no chasers were coming up from behind) and hit the throttle at about 100M to go, came around the other two guys, and took the win. The guys were both very good sports (and great break-away riders) and I gave my beer prize to the Death Row Velo guy to make sure there were no hard feelings (and that I'm not left to sleep with the fishes the next time I visit NJ).
Bonus miles - recharged my batteries and did the Men's Pro/1/2/3 race too. Short version - missed the break (of 9), in second group sprinting for 10th, I ended up (in somewhat of a slug-fest with 2 GS Mengioni guys, who clearly didn't want me there) in 15th place (out of probably about 70 starters; about 1/2 finished; 50 mile race, brutal cross winds). Prize Money went 20 deep, so I was very happy with the result in that race too. Good times