Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Housatonic Hills

So, either the promoters were incorrect about the race length, or the average speed of the race was slow due to the MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF CLIMBING. Regardless, this was one beast of a race.

I was disappointed to miss out on RossMAN's sprint to 3rd on Saturday, but I had family stuff requiring me to skip Monson. Instead, I found myself driving to Woodbury, CT Saturday night to stay at RKelly's house where they have GOLD sheets on the bed. There is truly no better way to prepare for a race than sleeping in gold sheets with another dude.

Waking up Sunday morning was scary. Not only did I have RKelly standing in the doorway in his underwear, but I also had to race 81 miles with close to 9,000ft of climbing. It was going to be a rough day. Fortunately, Ryan's family supplied us with plenty of breakfast food. We ate while Ryan's mom, Kathy, begged Drew to find Ryan a girlfriend. Apparently, she thinks one cannot go into a bar sporting a mohawk and screaming to pick up chicks. Very funny morning and a good way to keep the nerves calm before my nearing death.

After arriving to the race and signing in, I tried to get my feed situation ironed-out. I made a mussette bag last week and was planning to hang it from my repair stand in the feed zone. Unfortunately, I forgot my repair stand. There was a mailbox nearby, but it was on the left side of the road and feeds were limited to the right. RKelly soon found out Vinnie's family was there, and they were quickly enlisted to provide feeds. The only thing needing to be done was race. And race we did.

This course was hard. The 2+ mile climb to kick things off was interesting. It was steep in some sections, but other sections were ridable in the big ring. Then there were some other climbs. A lot of other climbs. One was a wall. I felt I would have been better suited using a climbing rope and shoes rather than a bike. The KOM climb was after a left hand turn at the bottom of a long descent. It was not too long but not too short either. It was actually the perfect area to yell "Anchors Away". And many people did.

Basically, the hills took their tolls rather than a team or strong riders thrashing the field. Mid way through the second lap, there were only about 45+ guys left after starting with 85. I was almost not included. On the second time through the feed zone, I could not find Vinnie's family. So, I slowed and waited for the front group to pass through. Finally, I found a woman holding out a bottle and I snagged it. It seemed she was holding it for me, but I reallyl didn't know who she was. I didn't care either. I was thirsty. From there, I was left chasing for about three quarters of the lap. Upon reaching the peloton, I tucked myself into the middle and spent the rest of the race trying to conserve energy. Thankfully, on the next and final time up the feedzone climb, Beth was there to give me bottles without having to chase wheels.

A lot happened during the race, but the most exciting part, for me, was the last 5 mile section. Knowing I would certainly make it home alive, I began to work with Ryan. We attacked, chased and countered. It was action packed with Metlife, CCB and a few other teams trying to put a guy over the line first (first from the field, but we were now racing for 20th). But, no one wanted to crack and we ended the hostilities in a sprint. I say we, but I mean they. My legs were pretty cooked at the 200m to go sign, and I really wasn't a factor.

So, we raced. We survived. RKelly, RossMAN, Vinnie and I made it through. Unfortunately, the previous day's efforts and a small crash finished Duncan's day early. Overall, I would say it was one of the hardest races I've done this season.

Funny/odd things that happened: some dude yells at Dan Vaillaincourt and calls him a Cat. 5 (Toshiba-Herbalife pro rider), Collin from CCB standing in the road bikeless while Merlin (SRAM guy with awesome beard) searched for a bike down an embankment in bushes, Ryan Fleming getting SO ANGRY when my legs were cramping and I decided not to pull through anymore.

NHIS Summer Solstice on Thursday.

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