Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The UDelaware Race Weekend

So Tim and I left at 1pm to do the long drive down to Delaware. We talked cycling and life on the ride. It wasn't so bad, and after 6.5 hours we arrived at his parent's place outside of Philly. The Humpton's were a very nice family, and they bought us dinner of chicken cheesesteaks and onion rings. Then off to bed.

I got to sleep in the next morning since our race didn't start until Noon, then I made a 1.5 hour drive by myself to the race course, since Tim took his own car. When I got there, I registered then bought a sweet race weekend T-Shirt from the UDel table with some Zebras chasing a bicycle. Apparently, there is some controversy about the UDel cycling team, since they have chosen a different mascot (the Zebra) from the traditional UDel mascot (the Blue Hen). The choice of Zebra does make for some rather interesting team kit though.

My race would be 51 miles consisting of three loops of this course. The first lap I set in, and the pace was moderate. There were three medium grade climbs, not super-steep, but hard enough to get the pack winded. I decided on the second lap I would try for a breakaway on the last of the three climbs and see if anybody went with me. No one did. I pushed really hard and got a big gap, and I bridged to an Army rider who was off the front. We starting working together and stayed off for about 20 minutes, when I decided to give up. According to Zach, my MIT teammate, my breakaway did cause a whole lot of commotion in the pack and he decided to further exacerbate things by sitting on the front and not pulling. Thank you Zach for helping. Bucknell eventually took the pace and then I got caught. If only one or two more people had come with me, we could have made it a race-winning move.

After the break, I knew I had to conserve what I had left for the finish. Against my better judgement, on the final climb, I stayed toward the front and gave it one last attack just to test the group. Again, nobody came with me (a bunch of pansies this group was), so I stopped and went back to the group. I did finally sit in, then in the last 5 minutes of the race, I made a series of good tactical moves to get toward the front for the final two corners before the finish. After the final corner, the sprint started. I heard a very loud crash right behind me, and kept going all out toward the line. I was surely in the Top-10, and no one passed me in the sprint, but I couldn't get around anyone else either. I got 7th place in my first road race of the season.

Yay! 3 Top 10 Finishes in mass starts this year, with 1 or 3 from last year (depending on whether they let Men's C races count toward this). I need 10 Top 10 finishes to upgrade to Cat 3 so I have eight more race opportunities over the next four weeks to try for the goal. Wish me luck.

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