5/26 Bound Brook Criteriums

Cycling

The 26th of May marked the second race in a series of 3 under the overarching “Tour of Somerville” – the Bound Brook Criterium. I went down to race with a few guys.

Thanks to Yehudah and Sruli for coming down to support, and for Ivan’s folks as well.

Thanks to all of our wonderful sponsors, as always!

The plan was to race twice – the 4/5 field first, followed immediately by the 3/4 field – and each race had a different plan. I was expecting the 4/5 to be slower, so I would employ my usual Attack now, attack often tactic. The 3/4, which i presumed would be faster, naturally, would mean sitting in and saving my engines for the sprint. With any help from God, I would be able to hold on to some semblance of a result.

The start/finish line. Salvation, exasperation, determination – many feelings were born here.

With my game plans in mind, we set out. At the scene, Ivan and I set up our trainers and began warming up, although that may have been unnecessary, since the course was open. We rode for a half hour or so, then proceeded with the course recon.

“Yes, I pin this way so I can draw blood. It makes you ride faster!” – Mr. Rojas.

Ivan. With a mohawk.

One of the last smiles of the day.

Some course reconnaissance. Note Jorgé in the background.

The 4/5 had a paltry 50ish registered racers.

THE last smile of the day.

As the 4/5’s sat around, anxiety so thick that a racer like me would need cross tires just to ride through it, the announcer gave some last minute instructions and tips. Nothing anyone was listening to, he was just killing time. And then, just like that, we were off.

Immediately, my heart rate jumped and stayed pretty high. The race was fast – much faster than I had anticipated, and the technicality of the course didn’t help one bit.

The course began with a high-speed chicane which dumped us into a slight incline/strong headwind, followed by 4 very technical and high-speed 90* left turns.

My mouth was dry. Parched is an understatement. We were moving so fast though, the corners were so relentless, so sharp, so punishing – I couldn’t find any chances to drink. Finally, there was a lull in the pace. I drank, moved up a bit from the last 10% to the front 10%. I stayed there for a lap or so and ATTACKed. I was overgeared, but I went anyways – it was too late not to. I attacked on the back straight, only because it was easiest for me to move up there. There was a decent tailwind and the field was moving pretty quickly – I clocked my attack at 31 mph.

The Blue Ribbon commentators.

After I cleared the first two corners (actually the last 2 corners) solo, I saw a racer up ahead in an orange jersey – MTBNJ. I caught him just after the chicane, in the headwind, and pulled through to let him know he wasn’t alone. As I tried to pull off (I HAD been pulling for about 3.5 minutes at this point), the MTBNJ racer just pulled off behind me. I put my head down to go, but it was too late at that point. The bike racer in the orange jersey alerted me that we had been caught.

Me. Breaking away solo.

Me. Breaking away solo.

Good thing I chose Speedplay pedals – leading the industry in ground clearance.

About a lap after we were caught, Joseph Meyer-Fuchs offered to go with me in another attack. My reputation had preceded me, it appeared…but my legs were having none of it. I went back to the middle of the pack with my tail between my legs and attempted to recover.

Recovering, completely gassed.

And that’s how the rest of the race went. With two to go, I began to get into position for the sprint. On the penultimate lap, heading into the back straight, I looked around to try and find Ivan…but he was nowhere near me. I later learned he had been chased onto a lawn where he slipped out.

Forever recovering.

Realizing he wasn’t going to need a leadout, I moved up to position myself. Heading into the final chicane, I was seventh wheel. Exactly where I wanted to be.

Winding up for the sprint with 1 to go.

Halfway through however, after the right turn and before the left…the Siggi’s rider two in front of me dropped his chain and began to spin like mad. He looked like he was about to go down as I slammed on my brakes. He stayed up and I chased around him to close the lengthening gap…burning the matches I was saving for my sprint.

Siggi’s racer who dropped his chain.

Moving down the back stretch I tried to make up positions but the field was moving too fast at this point and it was all I could do to hold onto my own. I came screaming out of the last turn, passing 4’s and 5’s on my right and left…to land me 20th. Far from what I wanted, but I had another race to worry about, and it started in 5 minutes.

20th place.

I took a cool-down lap, but soon realized the next race was beginning PROMPTLY. I ripped my old number off, revealing a fresh one beneath, and hustled to the start line. And then we were going. Everyone was sprinting and I was getting dropped. I wasn’t about to get dropped, so I sprinted back on and tried to make up positioning. These guys were FLYING though. I stayed towards the back as I saw Brendan sprint by me.

The chicane with the slightly faster 3/4 field.

Jorge was in this race, but I couldn’t see him. THe field was bigger, probably closer to 75 racers, and it was hard for me to see much of anything. I was already overheating. Matt Vandivort was racing too, but I didn’t know until afterwards.

About 3 laps in, I was dropped. For good. I watched the field ride away, gaining slightly more time on me in every corner. I rode solo for a few laps until I was pulled off by the lead car – a bright orange Nissan 350Z. The break was coming. The break that survived.

The winning break.

My legs were hurting, my neck was hurting, my head was hurting – I don’t know if I’m getting slower, if everyone else is getting faster, or if it’s a combination of the two. I just wish the training would kick in already.

Fitness: I’m ready for you.

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