Course description: 8.1 mile laps of rolling terrain. Double-yellow restriction.
Weather: Sunny, temperatures in the 70s and very little wind.
The VeloWorks-Spokes, Etc. took a small squad to the All American Road Race in Poolesville, MD. Between injuries and schedule conflicts the team still had representation in the Women’s fields, as well as the Cat 5, Cat 4 and Masters (35+) 3/4 fields. The course featured gently rolling terrain and very little wind, so not a lot to break up the fields.
First time racing here, the neutral roll out is VERY long. I think I had a thought of “Could you lose a road race in the neutral rollout?” If you got a flat, or ran into the back of someone in the many changes in pace, yes, you could.
After ~4 miles of roll out, we *finally* turned left… And no one raced. I think we were at neutral roll out pace for another couple miles, until the first downhill on the course. We were warned about the centerline rule and it was enforced early and often. At least 2 riders were relegated before we had ridden 2 miles.
So, being a Cat 5 race, and being the first race of the day, anything could happen, right? Well after the first left hand turn, we were brought to a complete stop at the top of the hill — which caused a couple riders to hit the deck as other people ran into their backs. The officials told us we were going the wrong way! So we turned around went back to the intersection… only to hit a dead end. Guess we were going the right way after all. So due to that debacle, the field kept together and just a bit tentative until the end of Partnership Rd.
River Road turn turned into an all out sprint up the hill from the turn, which shed about half the field as the rest of the race was kept at a fairly decent pace. No one tried to break away, but at the same time, a fairly quick pace was set at the front. Instead of 4 riders spread out across the road, it was two and maybe a third trying to move up in places they shouldn’t.
Last lap turning onto Hughes, another rider got pipped for centerline infractions, but that allowed others to cheat up on the outside while he was distracted. In the last km someone thought it was a cyclocross event and rode off into the ditch just in front of me to my right. Last km I found myself blocked in and unable to move up, but passed a few riders to finish 18th, squarely in the middle of the pack.
Peter then jumped immediately — literally — into the Masters (35+) field.
We were told at the Cat5 race not to worry about sprinting back to get back to staging, they wouldn’t leave without us…
I was probably 5th coming back to the high school, saw there was the group there at staging, took 2 minutes to go get my second water bottle, and rip the previous race’s number off my jersey, then rode back to the staging, and they were gone! Officials at registration said they had just left and I should be able to catch on during the neutral roll out.
I then proceeded to ride at threshold pace down Hughes road. The neutral roll out was no where in sight. I kept calm trying to keep from going into the red, and in an odd bit of luck, I caught Sean about a mile from the turn. He gave me a kick-ass lead out to the turn, and I *just* caught onto the tail of the peleton about 300 meters onto the course. Strava now has me as 18th fastest on the Hughes Rd. segment in my mad dash to get to the race.
Lucky for me the 35+ race was pretty much a party pace. Unfortunately this made it very difficult to move up. Again, a third of the group was shed on the first turn onto River Road, but that was it until the end. One rider overcooked the turn from Hughes onto Sugarland — just in front of me. Since I was holding my line going on the inside of the curve, I was already slowing to make sure I kept my line, and just broke a bit harder and went on his inside to avoid his slide out. A 2 man break away tried their best along Sugarland, but they were brought back before the turn onto Partnership Rd.
Unable to move up, I finished with the pack. Finished strong, but still had a lot left in the legs — I need to learn to get to the front when I can in the latter stages of the race and do what it takes to stay there. I had expected that it would have been easier to move up like in the first race, but because of the pace it was near impossible in this race.
All in all, two races down, 3 left to go.
Masters Cat 3/4
With injuries and schedule conflicts among the Cat 3 team, Sean ended up the sole VWS rider in the Masters 3/4 field. He definitely enjoyed the ability to move around in the smaller field and bided his time while small groups attacked and regrouped. Eventually a group of 6 riders escaped up the road. Though tempted to chase, Sean went back to the main group and settled in for the field sprint. Making aggressive moves from the finishing corner, he positioned himself perfectly for the final kick and showed the remaining field a clean set of wheels for a strong 7th place finish.
Video from Sean‘s finish of the Masters 3/4 race….
With a roster of Belov, Eric, Major Tom and Brian, the Cat 4 team had some options and planned to utilize a little more aggression in the All-American RR. The plan was to patrol the front and get us into the right breaks. Belov successfully placed himself in numerous moves and relished every opportunity. Sadly, the aging Belov was unsuccessful one too many times, and succumbed to cramping like the old Cold War relic that he is.
The team, however, had a plan B! After Belov pounded out watts riding off the front, Eric, MT and Brian forged their way together for the finale. As noted by our teammates in the earlier morning races, space was at a premium with the center like rule in place. Eric did a perfect job navigating the train to the front for a sprint lead out. Turning off River Road to the finishing straight for the last time, the fight for road ramped up and we tried to stick together when it happened again…another crash. The 3rd in two weeks for the team. Eric was squeezed by an over-ambitious rider, tangled and hit the deck. MT and Brian squeaked by with the slimmest of margins, but were slowed in the mele. Gapped to the leaders with no momentum, MT took up the chase full gas and bridged a 20 meter gap back to the leaders. As soon as he and Brian arrived, however, the front group opened up the sprint and Brian was still able to overhaul a few riders and steal 9th. MT rolled across in 15th.
While Eric was disappointed not to drop the fellas off closer to the finish line, he and his bike sustained only some scrapes. No significant damage to either. Front row seat to Eric‘s crash is below…..
The Cat 4 team was pleased to have forced the issue, shed a little more skin, and still hit a top 10 because of team efforts. Look for the women’s team representing next week at the Tour of Page County and some of the men traveling to Rock Lititz in Pennsylvania.