By Michael Burris
It has been an exciting few weeks for the Burris Logistics – Fit Werx squad. With a solid team of experienced riders, we have been able to make our presence know at some of the best races Vermont and New Hampshire have to offer.
For Lake Sunapee, we had 5 riders in the Category 3 field. It was an absolute blast working together at the front for most of the race. The group stayed together for the most part, awaiting the final climb to the finish. John Painter, dawning his fresh new, spanking white shoes and all dialed in by Ian Buchanan, had the top finish for us. It is great to see him back in top form after a horrible crash last year.
The Barre Grand Prix was held in Barre, VT just days before the Winooski River flooded the race course (and all of downtown for that matter). We had three of our elder statesmen in the 45+ race. Philip Beliveau took the top spot with a 5th place finish.
In the 35+ race we had four riders in the bunch. Knowing that Peter Vollers could ride away from us at any time, we held tight to his wheel. It didn’t much matter as he aptly dusted the field, sprinting away with another rider. We gave chase, but it was futile. After a few more laps, I hit the gas thinking the field was right behind me as we sprinted for a mid-race prime (pronounced preeme). A rider from the Sunapee team came around me at the line. I watch as he gapped me by about 50 meters. I chased him. Again thinking the field was right behind me. They were not. Turns out my teammates shut the field down as I rode away! Saaweeeet. I put my head down and gunned it after the rider in front of me catching him just as he crossed the line. Fourth place for me was a great surprise and a testament to great teamwork.
Next up was the 3/4 race. Myself and 3 more teammates took to the streets of Barre. I stayed at the back trying to recover from the 35+ effort long enough for my good friend and ORS rider, Jarred Katz to get away. It was inevitable. He always does it. You have to watch him. Nobody did. The rest of us worked hard to pull him back, but to no avail. John Painter once again asserted his power and finished 2nd in the field sprint securing 4th overall. Must be the shoes.
The Killington Stage Race is a brutal 3-day event. A very long circuit race begins the event on Saturday, followed by a challenging time trial on Sunday and a downright nasty road race on Memorial Day. Tim, Matt, Christian, and Alberto joined about 80 other category 3 riders. Jessie Donavan joined a much larger than average field of category 3/4 women.
This is their story (can you hear the Law and Order theme music?):
The Cat 3 men’s field was represented best by Super-Citarella (Alberto) on all 3 days. A smoking TT on Sunday without a TT rig put him high in the GC, then placing top 15 on Mon placed him in the top 15 GC, giving him a check to carry home.
Overall the weekend was a great time, with 3 solid days of racing. Saturday was a bit boring with no breaks getting away and not a lot of action in general, but the lack of action was welcome from my perspective, as this was the first time I’ve ridden in the deadly combo of heat and humidity all year. Once again, a HUGE thank you to Shawn for buying, filling, attaching pre-opened Gu’s to, and then deftly handing out water bottles at the feed station of the 72 mile race on Sat. I really don’t know if I would have stayed in the main field without that, I was fading each lap.
Sundays TT was hot and humid again, with a cross wind for most of the way out. Alberto crushed it and I got crushed fading 1/2 way through the course. Tim and Matt looked a lot better than I felt after that day, so I’m hopeful they felt better about their performances than I did mine.
Mondays race was probably one of the least-fun times I have had on the bike in a race. Hot and humid again, and hard. The group stayed together for the first 25 miles of the race, without any significant break aways or attacks (I tried to attack once, getting a small gap on the field, but was not able to maintain it solo so drifted back in – lesson learned). At the first substantial climb (25 miles) all hell broke loose, and I watched as the group slowly drifted off up the road ahead. I regrouped with about 5-7 other guys and worked a hard paceline for the next 15 miles thinking about tues night on Mt Philo Rd the entire time. With about 10 miles to go there were only 3 of us left in the paceline, as we struggled to keep up anything over 200 watts into the headwind. I was actually thankful to see the base of the finishing climb.
A large piece of humble pie was handed to me as the lead group of Masters 40+ passed me going up the climb. A disappointing performance that day and the wkend overall on my part, as I was hoping for much better and thought my training was exactly where it needed to be. But the wkend was still enjoyable none-the-less, with some hard racing, great weather, and once again seeing Burris Logistics take home a W, and a top 15 finish – strong representation in each category.
From Jessie (KSR Women’s Champion):
KSR had the largest women’s field in history which was pretty exciting. Typically women make up about 8-10% of a total race and at KSR women were 18% of the total racers. As a female it’s hard to find races with a large field so I was excited to be racing in a group of 60 for the weekend. I know, not large compared to the groups you ride in but 60 is as good as it gets.
Stage 1 – Pretty uneventful, I’m not a big fan of flat circuit races, they don’t really play to my strengths. I attempted to pull away from the group a few times early on but I definitely had a target on me after Bennington and I couldn’t get away. I did manage to grab the first QOM sprint and was 2nd the next time around. The sprint finish was frustrating, I was completely boxed in and couldn’t even sprint for the line. I ended up 7th.
Stage 2 – The course was slightly uphill but fast. I think I psyched myself out by looking at my Garmin the whole time and I kept thinking that I was going too fast and I needed to ease up so I didn’t blow up. Lesson learned, don’t wear a Garmin in a TT, it’s huge and not at all aerodynamic and it makes you loose focus from just going as hard as you possibly can. Lesson two, tailwinds make you go a lot faster then headwinds. I ended up 3rd in the TT and 3rd for GC 17seconds back.
Stage 3 – I started the race really looking forward to the simplicity of a huge climb at the finish and knowing that it was going to be really hard no matter what happened, that’s what racing is all about. The first 25 miles were almost all downhill and the pack was being pretty cautious. When we hit the base of first climb at mile 25 I was sitting a few rows back and we were moving pretty slow. I worked through the crowd just in time to catch up to the first break. I passed by her and kept going knowing that a few of the stronger climbers would come with me. By half way up the hill there was a group of 4 of us with a small chase pack about 15 seconds back and the rest of the group was already quite a ways back. I took the QOM points at the top of the climb and by that point we were clearly on our own. The four of us were working together really well through the next section and we had a solid paceline going. The motorcycle was giving us splits and at one point she said that we must be more then four minutes up because they were out of radio contact. I pushed us to keep up the pace, I didn’t want to let up. Around mile 40 we dropped one girl off the back, she was having a hard time pulling through and she was slowing us down. After that we were really flying, all three of us were really strong through the long gradual uphill section and we started passing some of the Pro/1/2 women which always feels good. Right around here was when I started to feel really really thirsty. We were biking along a river and I all I could think about was how cold the water must be and how good it would be to just stop and drink. I was carefully rationing my water bottles and I didn’t have much left. At one point we passed a sign that said “Ice Cold Drinks” on a chalkboard and I could hear the sound of ice clinking in a glass… Dehydration was definitely starting to set in and there was still a ways to go.
We hit the bottom of the final 5 mile climb to the finish and the teamwork was over and we were on our own. I started climbing telling myself that the quicker I got to the top the sooner I could drink and drink and drink. After the first few switchbacks it was just Heather and I. By the time we got to the QOM about 3 miles into the climb the motorcycle told us that we had over 2 mins on the the other woman who was in our breakaway so we just settled in next to each other. I think we both knew at that point it was going to come down to a sprint finish. Heather was smart and she just sat on my wheel and I led the way. With 200 meters to go I started sprinting and Heather was right there with me. With 50 meters to go my left leg completely seized up and it was an all out battle for the line, I definitely gave it everything I had in me and more. I won by a bike length and pretty much collapsed right over the line. Someone put a water bottle in both of my hands and I just stood there and drank, each time I finished a bottle someone would pass me a new one, it was like my own private water oasis.
I’ve been having so much fun bike racing this spring, I don’t want to stop! It is so great to be part of a team, thanks for letting me join in. Even though I’m on my own in the races I still feel like I’m part of the team which is a lot of fun. It was great to have Shawn’s offer for feeds, Alberto and Christian’s advice on how to step up my coolness factor (although I’m still questioning their advice) and all of your congrats over email. I’m off to a 1/2 ironman in NH this weekend so I’ve got to get bike racing off the brain and morph myself back into a triathlete.
For more information about the Burris Logistics – Fit Werx Team go to www.impulsecyclesport.com