Dean’s 2015 Purgatory 35+ Race Report – 2nd Place
Purgatory is the State Championship race and usually marks the end of the Spring road race season, yet this year it would be my first real race. An exciting early race season schedule saw Marblehead and Miles Standish get cancelled, a broken wheel at Battenkill, too many kid obligations during Blue Hills crit, and that left Purgatory. There were only 30 starters, but the field was as top heavy as they come with most of the top masters racers in the area at the starting line. Listing the guys I was watching would take too much space. 545 Velo had the largest team with 9 starters and most of them had won races. A number of the guys in the field are friends, customers and competitors all at the same time which is extra fun. Sandy Codding joined me in the field, and we rolled off on a neutral start on a perfect morning of sun and cool temperatures. We’d go 5 loops of the 11-mile circuit which was flat/rolling, followed by a fast descent, followed by more flat/rolling, and then a final steep 200ft Lackey Rd finishing climb which defines the race.
Lap 1 saw usual break attempts with everybody watching favorites. Bart Lipinski (Corner Cycle) and Eliot Pitney (Downeast) got away with a 545 velo rider about half way through and I sat and waited since no way I wanted to go that early. Bart was well-marked having just won Killington Stage Race convincingly and Eliot has been tearing up the racing scene since he started a couple years ago so they were a real threat. The 545 rider came back to the group, and after some discussion about how strong the break was 545 decided it had to get pulled in. Matt Mitchell went to the front and chased them down all by himself to just a small gap before the finishing climb. Fireworks went off on the climb (I hate this climb) and I scrambled up to a break of 9 by the top. 3 riders bridged up on the top of the course making a giant 12 man break with six 545 riders in it so it was going to stay. Unfortunately for Sandy and others in the main field no big teams were left to chase and riders started getting pulled after a few laps.
Jason Croteau (Hot Tubes) attacked constantly like usual and breaks would form and come back. Early in lap 4 Jason and Miles Billings (545) got away in a break. Jason’s won a ton of races and Miles just won 35+ Battenkill, so this was dangerous considering 545 wouldn’t chase. The two of them seemed to just ride steady with a 20 second or so gap before the lap 4 descent. I attacked early on the descent and tucked to bridge alone, flew by them – probably too fast, and went into steady TT mode until Jason caught up. Unfortunately Miles didn’t make it up, so that left me and Jason to try to stay away from what was now a 9-rider chase. Jason’s a beast and rides hard in a break, but we didn’t have a 545 rider with us which would be our demise. We turned onto the straightaway on the bottom of the course and when I looked back I saw the angry train of 545 riders pulling us in. Now the pace slowed and we waited for the next move. Literally just talking about nonsense like a bunch of friends on a group ride.
Brian Campbell did a light attack about a mile before the hill which was a perfect team move. He was the strongest climber and while you could say it was up to the non-545 riders to chase I sure wasn’t going to since the climb was coming and I was already hurting. I told Matt it was a smart move and that was pretty much that. Ba-Bye Brian.
The reality was Brian was going to win anyway if we were still together for the final climb, but now I had a better opportunity to make a move for 2nd place. If I could try to bridge up on the descent then 545 would have a tougher time chasing me this time with fear of closing the gap on Brian with other strong guys still in the break.
My only move left on the final lap was attacking the downhill which the rest of the break was ready for – now down to 10 riders: me, Chris Pare (MRC), Bart, Eliot, Lee Wassilie (Colonial), Colin Murphy (BRI), and the 3 remaining 545 riders Matt, Miles, and Jon Taunton-Rigby. Brian was now 1-minute up the road, and Lee and I shared rotations along the top of the course with Chris Pare jumping in to help before the descent. I was just riding steady to keep Brian in ‘catchable’ distance, but knowing we probably wouldn’t see him again. If he got too far away my chances of getting chased increased. I stayed on the front as we neared the descent as there was no point in trying to hide the same move I just tried and only move I had left. The group was ready for it and the ‘next’ biggest guy Matt Mitchell was planted on my wheel to try to keep us attached. I waited until it got steeper and then attacked and tucked, saw Matt there after a few seconds but eventually glanced and saw a gap. I stayed tucked at 50mph, stem pounding a bruise in my sternum you could see the next day, and I finally stood up and pounded the little rise before the right hand turn. I then road steady on the bars and tried to save a little bit for that annoying 100 foot Barrett’s road climb. I hit the climb all out knowing my finish depended on staying clear.
When I hit the flat straightaway on the bottom of the course I probably had 15 seconds on a couple riders I saw trying to come across with the rest of the group right behind them. Brian was now 40 seconds ahead of me according to the motorcycle and I could see him up the road. Now it was just TT mode hoping to close the gap on Brian and open it on the field. My legs were junk at this point so I tried to save surges for the uphill sections and back off on the downhills. When I approached the final climb I could no longer see the chase which was a huge relief. Brian was just 25 seconds according to the spotter at the bottom of the hill but I knew he was gone so I just road “do not cramp” intensity up the final climb and enjoyed the 2nd place finish about a minute back from Brian and a couple minutes up on the chasers.
Brian won the 40+ State title, I was 2nd, and Jason Croteau finishing 3rd in the bunch sprint. Through either confusion or a technicality in USA Cycling rules Brian and I both ended up taking a state title medal I guess since they award both a 35+ title and also a 40+ title in our race. For what it’s worth I have another masters state title medal at home (I won it in 2012 last time I did this race), but still not clear what it’s for!
Congrats to 545 Velo for great race tactics and good race to all the other guys in the break. Thanks Green Line Velo for running such an awesome race. A circuit everybody loves to hate, but in my opinion the most honest road race out there.
Now it’s time for 135 miles in the B2VT ride on Saturday. Thanks for reading!