This is a beautiful 12.5 mile loop course in south Connecticut. We signed up to race 6 laps for 80-miles, but they cut a loop out when the start was delayed. Ben Koyle and I would start the race with nearly 70 riders for the now 68-mile race. There are back to back 200-foot small ring climbs early on, then the rest of the course is rolling.
After a neutral start we were off. Many of us were shedding layers early on as the 40-deg overcast windy conditions quickly warmed to sunny. We got introduced to the two climbs which admittedly didn’t look as nasty on paper. They were tough in real life, and it wasn’t so much the hills themselves that were tough but the pace in which the main field chose to climb them. Ben Wolfe was in the field again with a bunch of exceptional riders from all the big teams. An early breakaway got out of sight but was caught a lap later. We flew up the climbs on the 2nd lap and I started having doubts I’d able to keep hitting these at this speed. I was at my limit and we were already shedding riders. There would be a lot of attrition on these climbs. I’d mostly recovered from a stomach bug a few weeks back, but hadn’t quite recovered from a winter spent loading up the denominator in my watts/kg ratio. I went downhill fast though. Ben Koyle was looking great and floating up the hills well as I rode near him early on.
On the 3rd lap I moved to the front on the downhill side of the course. Tailwind, slight downhill, life was easier for me on this side. I was tucking on a fast section and rolled to the front. Daniel Nuzzo-Mueller from Community Bicycles surged off the front and nodded to go with him. I ignored my inner monologue that let’s just say was telling me the field was a safer place, and followed him in the breakaway attempt. I pushed us along the long fast section to open a little gap. I rotated off and saw Aiden Charles from CT Cycling had joined us. These guys were both strong with teammates in the field. A few minutes later with the gap opening a bridging rider came across and joined. It was Matt Curbeau from Velocio who’s very strong and now we were 4. Breakaway on! This was my 3rd breakaway race in a row so at least that part was going right. We moved out of sight by the end of the 3rd lap. There were some big teams still in field and of course pro cyclist Ben Wolfe who could close the gap quickly once he chose to. We were committed now and while I know all 3 of these guys I hadn’t been in a break with any of them so this was going to be fun. As soon as we hit the 2 hills to finish the 3rd lap I started getting gapped. All 3 of them backed off, even asked me to dictate the pace on the uphill but I kept struggling worse. I sat on the back as long as I could, got gapped on the last climb then had to catch back on the descent. At this point I just hoped to push the break as long as I could and wish them luck since I’d be a non factor on the finishing climb. It beat sitting in, or at least that’s what I told myself. We approached the finish of the 4th lap still out of sight with gap around 1 minute. I could barely hang on as we started the first hill and wished them luck as they rode away. The field was chasing fast now as I quickly saw them come into view and overtake me. There wasn’t much left perhaps 15-20 riders so many had been shed on the hills. They’d overtake the breakaway on the final lap and Ben Wolfe would win the race. I rode a more gentlemanly pace the last lap just to finish. I was 23rd out of 50 finishers in the race results, but happy with the hard day. Ben Koyle finished a few minutes later with a solid result too.
I’d planned on racing Marblehead this weekend, but unfortunately registration closed a week earlier this year without myself or many others knowing which was disappointing. Next race will be Quabbin so I’ll have a few weeks to work on that power/weight ratio I discussed earlier!