Dean’s 2018 Chris Hinds Race Report: P123 and 40+
Chris Hinds is one of my favorite races. What’s not to love about a flat 0.9-mile course with gentle turns, no hills, and lots of wind? I’d race the 123 race and then 40+ race after an hour break to open the season. I can now admit it was not only my first bunch race in nearly a year, but my first outdoor ride of the season. Recent stomach bug and time off disrupted training but everybody is in the same boat this time of year. Let’s race!
The P123 race had 60 starters and the field was stacked. There were a few real pros including Ben Wolfe – same guy we all watched in the Tour of California riding the breakaway off his wheel 2 stages in a row last summer. I can’t say enough about what an awesome experience it is racing with him and how great it is that he still supports these local races when he’s home.
It took a few laps to get used to riding elbow to elbow again and I started feeling good in the back of the group. Teammate Ben Koyle was with me, having just raced the cat 3 race earlier and would race 40+ with me later. There were the usual fireworks and dangerous looking breaks early on which I gambled would be caught as I got my legs and handling skills squared away in the field. Wolfe chased and bridged to a few but the field clung on each time. I worked my way up the field waiting for a good opportunity to get in a move since we were all breathing hard now. I think it was Cole Archambault from Green Line Velo who surged first and I jumped to him and pulled through on the homestretch as we opened a gap. He wins lots of races so this was a good move to try. I pulled off before the next turn and saw we had 5 riders with a gap. I clipped my pedal hard on the pavement pedaling too soon out of the turn into the wind and ended up in the grass – fortunately still on two wheels. Note to self – you’re not in a velodrome, these turns aren’t banked, don’t do that again… I chased back on and we were 5 – Brendan McCormack CCB, Michael Landry CT Cycling, and Connor Jennings Velocio had joined us so I had 4 strong teams with me. Breakaway was on! After just a couple laps there was a crash in the main field, and they neutralized and stopped us – calling the gap to the breakaway at 15 seconds. We’d restart after 20 minutes of shivering at the starting line. The strategy from here was clear – we’d get sent off and 15 seconds later a smiling Ben Wolfe and the rest of the field would come chasing after us for the remaining 30 minutes of racing. These last 30 minutes were going to hurt no matter which group you were in!
We got released and went right into team time trial mode. We knew the chase was coming and got into a good rotation. The bottom left corner of the course is shaped like a box where it’s easy to see where the gap stands with a quick glance to the left. Every lap was the same – the literal giant figure of Wolfe crushing it on the front followed by a long strung out single file line of riders behind him – presumably not enjoying life at that moment. If he ever let up we’d have some good blocking going on from our teammates, but that required him letting up which clearly wasn’t happening as the gap was shrinking about a second each lap. Gap was called at 6 seconds with some amount of time to go. We picked it up with harder shorter pulls as it was all we could do. The gap opened again. There were maybe 5 laps go or about 10 minutes. Brendan McCormack – who’d been pushing hard every time he was on the front – took another surge and rode away from us. Connor had pushed us all he could and dropped back to the field. 3 of us were now left working together, trying to catch back up to Brendan while the Wolfe-train was still closing fast. Those laps-to-go cards couldn’t tick down fast enough. Last lap came and we stuck together with a decent gap on the chasing field. We rotated through until the final turn watching Brendan solo to an impressive win. Cole easily won our breakaway sprint for 2nd, I was 3rd and Michael 4th. I was pumped to finish on the podium in such deep field to open the racing season.
I was tired and shelled, so planned to sit in the field and get more racing miles in the 40+ masters race an hour later. Some would do the smart thing and keep warm on the trainer, or at least warm up on the trainer, but I opted to just slump in the car joking with Ben that we could just drive home if he gave the nod. I got on the bike and rolled around with about 10 minutes to the start as if that would make my legs feel better. We saw Alan Potter at the start who’d just raced 50+ so we were 3 weary riders strong. We’d race 60 minutes. Race on!
I sat in for a while, and didn’t chase anything so my legs would warm up which they did. Ben flatted again, after flatting in the 123 race, so called it a day. The pace was more gentlemanly than the 123 race, but it felt just as hard at times. Masters races are great since you get a little bit more space as none of us are interested in hitting the pavement, but the pointy end of the field can be just as strong as the pro field. The usual strong men were getting marked and breaks got chased down. I chased one down about half way through and there were counter attacks. Those got chased down and I saw a couple strong guys go so went with them. Surprisingly we had a gap and 5 of us got away. Miles Billings 545, Josh Burgel MRC, Eneas Freyre, and Cieran Mangan CCB were with me. All 4 were strong, and all had strong teams. There were 30 minutes to go, so here we go again breakaway on! We got a big gap fast. Rotating was smooth until a lap prime was announced. Miles and Eneas went for it and, ugh, kept going. I don’t remember how long but Josh, Cieran and I were chasing those two what seemed like forever. My legs were now feeling toasted and any surge was causing cramps to show up. We chased and slowly worked the gap down to just a few seconds. Part of me would rather slowly chase them than have to respond to a surge. Miles eventually looked back and let up, joining us. Then we were 5 again. Miles and Eneas kept surging and clearly had the best legs. I more or less waved the others to chase since I couldn’t. We were together again on the final lap and it would be a sprint finish. I managed to get myself at the back of the group, but that was as good as it got. The sprint started, my legs cramped and I smiled rolling in 5th which I was happy with. Miles won, Eneas 2nd, Cieran 3rd, and Josh 4th. It was really cool to be in a break with guys I know so well from riding and racing over the years.
I’ll race again at the Brumbles Bikes Kermesse this weekend. Spring is here!
Thanks for reading!