Event: Cycle-Smart International- Day 2 Location: Northampton, MA Category: Men's 4/5 35+, Juniors, Men's Cat 4/5 Weather Conditions: 40's and dry Total riders: 139
I had done this one in the past and felt pretty comfortable with the course. You needed to be in the top 5 going into the technical areas to have any chance at finishing in the top 10. Drafting helps here so its important to be up front with a good group. I stuck to my standard agenda:
1. Get there nice and early to get a primo parking spot. Check!.....tough for a 1 1/2 drive and an 8:00AM start 2. Take my time getting ready.....no rushing. Check! 3. Check out 100% of the course. Check! 4. Ask so many questions that the promoters stop making eye contact. Check!
I did some nice and easy laps and looked for the pinch points. The first pinch point would happen when the course followed an S-turn in hard packed baseball turf. It was a fairly long way from the start so I would need to keep the pace high to avoid having racers engulf me. I practiced my starts and found the right gear. Once the course hit the pavement, there was a possibility my position would change by one or two but it was insignificant at that point. The rest of the race would evolve from there. Its not a super technical course but it has the standard run-up, barriers and it is super fast. I use FMB Rhino tires for traction but have added an FMB Service Course with a fine tread option to my arsenal. I was going back and forth for weeks on what I should use but decided on the fine tread for the speed.
I got a great start holding a top 5 position at the start and being in the second spot going into the run-up. It was only a 30 minute race so three ~9:00 minute laps was all we had to evolve the race. Coming out of the back section down the shoot into the main field, I was in the first spot. My thought was that if I could get a nice gap and break up that lead group right away, I might have a chance at the overall win. I sprinted out of every corner through through lap one. The sun was at my back and I could see the shadows of the other racers. As soon as I saw that, I pulled off the front and flicked my elbow. The other guys pulled through and I drafted into the sand pit. It was a solid group of six for a while until Fin O'Connor decided to make his move. The group broke up but then came back together. Fin stayed away. Into the last lap, my font end slid out, I hit the deck hard and managed to lock up my rear wheel. It took a few seconds to figure out that I needed to re-set the back wheel. I lost a bunch of spots and worked like a dog to get back to the group. There were some rays of hope through the last lap but I never really came back.
I ended up in 10th spot overall and in 3rd place for the 4/5 35+ category. It was bittersweet knowing that I would have done better if I hadn't fallen but luckily, there is always next time.