2013 Jamestown Classic – Masters 35+ Field – 2nd Place
The Jamestown Classic is the last road race of the season. I’ve been enjoying good form on the bike the last few months, so it was easy for me to stay motivated despite the days getting shorter and darker as we transition into fall. The Jamestown course is 19 miles of gradually rolling terrain and scenic views. We did 2 laps of the course. There’s a tight 100ft climb about a mile from the finish of the race followed by a winding descent to the finish line. If a breakaway didn’t succeed, positioning in the field on this climb is critical for a good finish.
The race started at a gentlemen’s pace, such an easy pace that a big break of a dozen or so riders road off the front seemingly without knowing it. You could see them looking at each other like “Is this a break? Should we start riding?” and eventually they worked together and started motoring away. I didn’t want to ride too hard too early, but started getting the feeling people were watching for me to respond. Tim Mitchell was in the field so of course he was being marked heavily by everybody. We lasted until the top of the island around 5 miles in and the pace started to pick up as the field realized it was time to start riding and the break was already a minute up the road. I surged to the front at this point, and instead of pulling the pack decided to attack and attempt a bridge. Enough guys responded that I only strung things out behind me. Tim Mitchell then flew past me and yelled to go, so I surged again and bridged up to his wheel. My response was a bit delayed, and when I got there didn’t have the gas to pull through very quickly. The pack was strung out behind us and nobody else attempting to pull through, so we sat up. Matches were burned, and there would be many more to come.
As we came off the section of lousy pavement on the north end of the island, I attacked again from the front of the field. Attacking from the front never surprises anybody, but if the pack was strung out in the rough section a big enough gap could form to split the field. I couldn’t get anyone to pull through, and relaxed again after the descent. We hit the next hill and Tim attacked hard from behind with a train of riders chasing his wheel. A gap quickly formed, and now there were two breaks up the road. The remaining guys in the field sensed the urgency and one by one started hammering across the gap to the 2nd break. This strung things out enough that we all came together again, and the first break was still hovering about a minute up the road. Tim had taken a pull at the front, and I saw a few other strong guys helping so I started taking longer pulls at the front as well to keep the gap to the breakaway under control. I made a couple surges following moves to and from the lighthouse on the southern end of the island, but again nothing stuck. As we neared the end of the first lap, the break was now coming back to us and there looked to be only 5 riders left in it.
When we hit the finishing hill at the end of the first lap, Tim Mitchell hit the hill hard and I was at my limit trying to stay on his wheel. A couple other strong guys were with me, so things were looking good for finally getting some separation. I pulled through at the top of the hill, but despite signaling for others to pull through they wouldn’t or couldn’t, so that left me at the front. I took the turn, and kept a fast pace down the hill past the finish line with a lap to go. We kept the pace fast up the next hill and the field was strung out single file for a while with some visible gaps. More attacks followed, eventually breaking a dozen of us away on the long false flat hill before the north end of the island. I pulled through hard and only strongman Jason Croteau was still on my wheel so we tried to get something going at that point. Eventually the field came together – everybody was just chasing too fast. The original break was now close to us, and just before the turn onto the rough road another few guys went off the front.
I hit the rough road hard, caught and passed the guys who’d just attacked, then took the front again and pushed a hard pace on the following descent until we caught the break. I kept the pace fast passing the break so the guys that still had legs could hop on and maybe push a new break. Nothing stuck, and after following a couple more attacks I decided it was time to sit in for the finish. I went to the back for 10 minutes or so and had a leisurely cruise around the lighthouse and admired the views. Now it was time to move up and get positioned for the finish. I used the downhill sections to move up, and approached the finishing hill in good position on the left side. Bill Shattuck was on the front driving the pace and setting up his teammate Bart Lipinski on his wheel. I slotted in behind them, and kept an eye on super-climber Brian Campbell next to me since he’d be a good wheel for follow on the hill. Everybody in the front end of the field looked ready to pounce when we hit the hill.
Finish (with all the details I can remember)
The pace up the hill started hard, but faded and guys started passing me on the left. I grabbed a wheel, crested the top with much better legs than the last time up, and then found myself at the front. I didn’t want to lead the sprint but stayed at the front so I could ride a clean line around the turn. After the hard left turn with 600 meters to go, Tim Mitchell surged past me on the left with a couple guys on his wheel. I hopped on the train and had good position in 4th on the winding descent. Tim descends really fast and was going to try to hold the front until the finish. The fastest part of the descent dumps you about 200 meters from the finish and then it’s all out – trying to hold max speed all the way to the line. I intentionally let a gap open to the wheel in front of me, so I could close it at the highest speed possible before starting my sprint. We were hugging the yellow line, so I moved to the right as I started my sprint but quickly saw the orange barriers closed off the right side and Tim was taking the smart line right toward them – forcing anybody passing to his left. I had to back off a split second to clear the guys on my left then swung left and restarted my sprint – fortunately still holding max speed. As the finish line came into view, there were so many pedestrians and cars on the road that the pace car had to stop in the middle of the narrowing road. It looked like another car was in front of it. Yelling ensued and the guys that could swung left around it. I’m already swinging left, so this forced me to swing even further left now – riding a longer line but at least a clean line, or so I thought. With 50 meters to go I’m moving up the left side nearly overtaking 1st place, and suddenly see a police officer now standing in my line trying to get people out of the street. I yelled as loud as I could – I’m in full sprint mode now – since if he didn’t move I’d have to hit the brakes. At the last second he moved, and I had time for a couple last hard pedal strokes, but not enough space to overtake the leader. Ernest Tautkus was 1st, and I was a wheel down in 2nd. David Hildebrand was 3rd, Tim Mitchell 4th, Jason Croteau 5th, and other strong guys rounding out the top 10. It was one of those finishes where you’re thankful to be racing with experienced riders or otherwise could have easily been crashes. Whew!
Thanks to Strava.com it makes it easier to remember all these race details. You can even see my power spike, then drop, then spike again for the final 10 seconds of the sprint finish. http://app.strava.com/activities/89055320
Despite the dangerous finish, it was great racing with so many fast guys to finish the season. Thanks for reading!