Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Michael Schott Memorial Circuit Race - A tale of 2 races...

The first report is from Ken T:

Michael Schott Memorial race is essentially the unofficial start to the new england cycling season. The course is a fast-rolling 2.2 mile loop around marblehead neck with some good roads and nice views. The cat 4/5 race did 11 laps around the course which made the race roughly 25 miles. There are two short but powerful hills on the course that doesn't exactly hurt you the first couple of laps, but become painful by the end of the race. Riders tend to use this as a indicator to see how successful their off-season training program went, so needless to say people come to race.
I meet up with Kurt M., Tim, and Eric in the parking lot and we did a lap or so to warm-up. This was desperately needed since it was 34 degrees at start time with some off-shore ocean wind that chilled you to the bone. Luckily for us we had lots of sun so it wasn't completely unbearable, just painful.
Thershold cycling showed up in force, and I counted 8 or so riders. NEBC was also representing with a large field of their own riders. I figure the race was going to be controlled in the beginning because it was so cold. Maybe a couple of gentleman's laps to warm-up the muscles before everyone started hammering. Well I was way off, everyone just started hammering from the start.
The first lap riders seemed twitchy with riders eager to find position. The pace was erratic with fast accelerations and big slow downs. Eventually Thershold made their way to the front and smoothed out the tempo, but still kept the pace relatively high. Right after the main hill on the 2nd lap a guy from Thershold and Quad cycling made a break and put some general distance on the main field. I wasn't too concerned because usually these riders get tired pretty quick and get sucked right back into the field. Well once again I was wrong. Since Thershold was controlling the race in the front and they had a guy represented they had no desire to chase. Eventually the riders in the break were looking smaller and smaller in the distance. I could not wait anymore, this break could last.
I attacked out of the peleton and buried myself to bridge up to the two riders. After a max effort I was able to catch up to them. So here I am in a 3 man break that I wasn't planning on in my pre-race tactics and these guys were crushing it. It took me a good 2 laps to recover from the bridge attempt where I could do some useful pulls to help make it successful. There was absolutely no chase by the peleton and it seemed Thershold was content to just have everyone else try to chase us down.
So for 6 we were just grinding away. I actually felt really confident at this point. At first our gap increased but as the laps kept coming it seemed we started to fade ever so slightly. Jen was able to give me a the chase time advantage on the peleton from the side of the road and I heard 18 secs previous lap then it dropped to 12. All of sudden I could see the peleton coming on strong. So by this point we have about 3 laps to go.
To my amazement it was Thershold digging hard to chase down his own guy, not sure what the strategy was but maybe the rest of the boys wanted a taste of the podium and decided to make it hard. I peeled off the break group and decided to use the remainder laps to try to recover from my effort and give one more shot at the sprint. Well, as I got taken over by the peleton, Thershold launched another massive counter-attack and overtook the two other riders and I was forced to match that acceleration. By now the tempo just got faster and faster, with 1 lap to go Thershold was dominant and everyone else was well stuck behind them.
In the final turn towards the finish there was another massive acceleration and a large crash to my right. Then someone hit a cone to my left separating traffic so I had to make a big move to avoid it. With the pack split we hit the big hill one more time and it was all out effort to the finish. My legs were just to cooked by then and I could only hold on to a top 15 finish. Thershold on the other hand swept the podium showing that they were the better team of the day.
All in all this race was very fun but equally as difficult. The pace was much higher this year compared to last and you can tell the warmer days of late winter made for some good training for many riders. As much as I wanted to score some points, the fact that I was able to stay in a break for so long gave me some good confidence for the races to come.
It was also great to see the team show up and represent at the local race.

The second report is from Kurt M. (Me):
Marblehead has been my first race of the year for the last 2 years. Last year, I was redlined from the moment the race started. My goal this year, even with the race being 6 miles longer was to at least make it onto the race results, which didn't happen last year as I was dropped about 1/2 way through the race. My training has been more dedicated to the bike this season, but between work and life obligations, still not quite where I'd like it to be.
With that, Eric W and I headed out from my house in the low 30's temps to ride from Salem to M-head. The air was crisp, but the sun was out and my legs were feeling good. Got over to registration, pinned up and headed out for a warm-up with Tim, Ken, & Eric. Legs felt good and the HR was coming up nicely and then the day unraveled, more mentally than physically, but as I learned last year at the Ironman, the mind can be a great helper or a huge hurdle. Stopped to drop my jacket and do one more warm-up and then it happened, my foot slips out of my pedal and I hit the deck. Not hard, but hard enough to rattle me. No worries, shake it off and roll over to the start line a realize my handlebars are crooked. Quickly straighten them and the race rolls off and I discover my saddle is crooked! Oh well, nothing I can do now, so I settle in the middle of the pack. The pace is up and down, but the acceleration at the beginning of every lap up the steep hill started to take its toll on the group and quickly, the field of 70ish riders was splitting up. After about 7 laps, my legs were cooked, but I was still hanging on and then while the legs were still willing, the mind wasn't. Another rider clipped my front wheel, and he crossed 3 lines. I recovered and didn't crash, but my day was over as the group road away from me. On a good note, I did finish the race and get a result so I acheived my goals, but mentally, I've had better days. A little bit bummed I couldn't be there to support Ken at the finish, but there is always next week... It was definitely good to line up with a few extra teammates this year!

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