Well, this past weekend was the premiere of the Connecticut Stage Race way up in Colebrook, CT. A two day, three stage event, it promised to be a good early season warmup for the important races down the road this summer.
My comparatively young age meant that I was forced to compete in the mostly elite P12 field and not the Masters as I hoped. Even though all the categories strangely had the same distance, I was cautious going into it as the talent was to be superb. Or so I had hoped…as until the last week, only about 12 other riders had entered. They were all Northeast regulars, plus the Flying Fin himself. Well, on the last few days the field quickly filled with a few professionals and most of the New England elite.
The elite status was quickly shown on the 8 mile opening time trial. I was still tired and sore from bouncing off of the Hartford pavement the week before and was flat tired and couldn’t get on top of the pedals. His Fin-ship took a flying 3rd place by just a few seconds.
Then, a mere 6 hours later, the second stage – 8 laps of 3 miles circuit race – started. The pace was brutal from the start and most of the event was raced in a straight line. Downhills topped 47 mph and uphills seemed a bit faster. The field all stayed together and no real time differences were made. Everyone went home for a late dinner and to think about the 91 mile road race in the morning.
Ah, morning. Nervous energy abounded. This was new course, and we were mostly unfamiliar. The attacks started as soon as the first pedal was clipped in and seemed to never stop. My plan was to try to get in a properly represented early move to both save my legs (better to be the responder than the respondee later) and unofficially help the Fin should he bridge up later. Well, I tried pretty hard. Then, after coming off a solid attack group on some rolling hills with my heart at 190bpm, I watched a Colavita pro go streaking by on my right. Whoops. Then the GC leader up the middle, two more pros and of course, the Fin. Ouch. I missed that one. However, I was not the only one who missed it as the GC 2nd place also did.
With his team at the front to try to catch up, the race was really on. The field streaked down the road and covered 29 miles in the first hour. We reached the first feed zone at 40 miles in just 1:24. Yet still the break was up the road. Amazing. It was the fastest I have gone in years. Everything hurt. The normal chit chatting and joking that goes on in races was replaced by the fighting for wheels and speeds over 50mph. Yikes.
We came through town at the end of the first big loop at about 50 miles and over 20 riders pulled off right there, too exhausted to continue. I foolishly continued until the one more pro and the missed opportunist attacked to bridge the struggling two minute gap. Bam, pow, zing. Race over for the rest of us. I finally climbed off in the second feed zone at mile 70 with one of the other lads and went back home. Up the road the break stayed away and that is all I know. I was too tired to ask.
It was a good event in a nice town with good weather. I think. I have shut out much of the memories to avoid late life trauma. Very fast. Only about half of the starters from the time trial saw the finish of the road race a mere 27 hours later. Good stuff.
For me, it was fantastic training for my masters campaign. For others, it was the second time they rode their new time trial bikes. Three chances to guess who! Talk to you next week!