Aetna-Expo at Purgatory RR
By Gary Aspnes
After a couple of weeks with little riding, I was finally feeling somewhat recovered from my unfortunate illness at Killington. I was ready to test the legs again and convinced Todd to change his registration over and join me in the 45+ masters field. The weather was beautiful with perhaps the sunniest warmest conditions for a race this year. Purgatrory is a great, challenging course in the town of Sutton south of Worcester along the Blackstone valley and as has been the case for a number of years provided a great venue for a challenging race. The race was full of some well represented teams as well as a number of strong local masters. The race was once again the MA state RR championships, which did not directly affect Todd or myself, so we were shooting for best team finish and watching for a likely break to go up the road and getting one or both of us in it.
The critical part of the 11mile lap (which we did 5 times) was really the finish climb and the rollers on Central Tpke shortly thereafter. The climb is a short, but sharp stepped climb that really starts sapping the legs after multiple laps and the rollers come soon enough after that they can be a great launchpad for attacks. Since this was my first race back, I rode the first lap conservatively, sag climbing the first finish climb. Todd made sure he was right up there and was critically placed when Rob Lyons and Hunter Ziessing (a strong Californian who periodically comes east to race) went up the road going into the rollers at the start of the 2nd lap. This was the move and as soon as I saw them go, I moved up and stayed in the front 10 wheels to make sure I went with any threatening bridging move. I worked to effectively shut down the pack while Todd work hard with his companions to solidify the break. Rob provedto be the best climber, while Todd held on for a solid podium spot in 2nd.
Meanwhile, on the last lap I bridged solo to Bill Shattuck who had been off the front for the lap prior. We worked and made it to the bottom of the finish climb off the front (and past the 35+ group as well). Both of us were feeling the effort but were trying to hold off the pack. It worked for all except the ever impressive Pat Ruane who jumped away from the pack and rode right through us on the hill. I had to settle for holding of the rest of the group and earnign a respectable 6th.
All in all a great day out for the team with Todd killing it in the break to get the runner up spot on the podium and me attackign late for the last spot in the money.