Monday, May 24, 2010
W is for Winsted
Sunday was Winsted Woods and my day was not starting well.
I left my pre & post race sandwiches on the counter, only filled my energy drinks half full, got caught behind every Sunday driver in CT after getting a late start due to getting sucked into a History Channel show, and to top it off there was no TP in the Porto-lets!
Lining up we had 7 riders in the Cat1 SS class. Not the record setting class sizes we had the beginning of the year, but considering there were competing races in both MA, and NY, a decent showing.
The whistle blows and after a little clickity clackity trying to get clipped into my pedals, I'm off. I usually have a pretty good start, and with this one being up hill, it played to my strengths and I got to the front.
I lead the first climb, but Kerry Robair passed me in the singletrack before the first gravel descent. Winsted Woods essentially climbs for 26 minutes, and descends for 2 (at least on the first two laps). In the climbing part there are downhill sections, and flatter parts, but essentially they lead you to the top of the hill to a Sound of Music like field with views of a lake in the valley below. Buena vista indeed. Then there is a fast descent to the Start / Finish area.
In the winding up the hill, before the second major climb, I felt I could ride a little faster pace than Kerry was setting so I went to the front.
In years past, there used to be a long, rocky fireroad climb about half way through the lap. This year they cut a singletrack parallel to the bottom half of the fireroad, cutting back to it on a flatter section before the steep "rock" near it's summit. If the singletrack was clear it was rideable, but if there was traffic, you'd be running the end of it (there was a large log to hop, and a rocky section near the end of it that was getting pretty greasy). First lap, with Kerry on my wheel I ran the log, and rode the top as to not take a chance at getting hung up and passed.
I'm hearing Kerry behind me the whole climb, but after we summit, and pass the water station, I chance a glance and see I have a little gap. With twists and turns of the singletrack, if I can stretch that, I'll be out of sight, taking away the carrot for Kerry to chase. So I put my head down and try and push it through the remaining singletrack to the final descent.
Into the second lap, I'm starting to catch the 30-39 year olds. After the first gravel descent I catch Alex. He's been watching me coming, and give me an easy pass (thanks buddy!).
There is traffic in the new singletrack on this and the following laps so I have to run the log and the top before exiting to the fireroad.
Once I get to the singletrack after the summit, 40-49 y/o leader Brian Cantele catches and passes me. I ask him how far back Kerry is, and he says "not very". Great. Right before Brian passed me another rider passed me who I thought was the leader of the 40-49 class. As he's dueling with the rider, he's yelling back encouragement to me, which seems odd that he'd be wasting the energy in such a hotly contested battle. It turns out it was a 30-39 rider I had passed passing me back. On the last climb I passed him back.
The last two laps were a lot of the same. Realing in 30-39 y/0's and 19-29 y/o's, not looking behind me in fear of seeing Kerry closing the gap. I also had to run the "rock" at the end of the fireroad climb on the last two laps. My right knee was hurting for this, probably due to riding my geared road bike Saturday (I gots the Giro Fever).
When I get to the final climb of the day, and I dare to take a peak back. Just the last 30-39 y/o I passed.
It's just 2 minutes down the hill and I've won. I let the 30-39 y/o pass me on the descent, and roll in for the victory.
Kerry rolls in about 2 minute back. Followed by Andy Caputo.
If I had raced my age group like I did last year, I would have finished second to Brian (I was the fifth fastest Cat1), about 5:45 back. I gave him crap for not even beating me by 6 minutes.
In the shameless plug department, after the race there were a lot of complaints about how the course beat up riders (to be clear no one was complaining about the course). Some from guys riding rigids, some hardtails, and even full suspension. I felt tired, but my arms, back, and hands were fine. There is always the temptation to swap my Swift's steel fork out for a lighter carbon fork, but the way it handle the descents, why mess with a good thing? Last year I'd need to take the day after a race off, but today I feel great, and will be hitting the trails.
Shout out to my peeps:
503 Cyclworx kicked some ass with Brian Cantele scorching the Cat1 40-49 class for the win and the second fastest Cat1 time, Alex Combes getting 4th in only his second Cat1 race in the 30-39 class (after I passed him he didn't let the lap grow to more than a minute as he found his groove and started climbing through the field). Finally in the Pro/Open class James Harmon claimed 4th in a hugely competitive field, with Josh Wilcox holding on for a very respectable 7th after damaging his rear derailleur housing and having ghost-shifting issues for most of the race (maybe time to succumb to the allure of the singlespeed?).