Eastern Bloc Cycling Club
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Monson Road Race 4/22/17
Well I finally broke my "always a bridesmaid" curse with my first road race win at Monson yesterday. I have a couple crit wins and some RR podiums over the years but it felt great to finally stand on the top step.
Monson is a really fun race put on by Mike Norton of the cyclonauts. Mike does a tremendous job with his races and we had full moto support and neutral wheels from Look for all fields. I raced masters 50+ in the afternoon and the weather was perfect (how often have we been able to say that in 2018?). The course is 56 miles with a 33 mile loop that crests at the finish followed by a 23 mile loop that retraces the last 20 or so miles of loop 1. We had sizable group of strong riders in our field and the race went out fast. There were a couple of attacks in the first 10 miles but I bided my time near the front and watched how the heavy hitters responded. This is part of the Velotooler series so there was a points race contention in addition to several day-of guys, each strong enough to vie for the win.
Around 20 miles in Eric Weinrich went for a flyer and Ron Jacobs went with him. Eric is super strong and has ridden away to win on several occasions in tough races like Purgatory and Hilltowns. He is a power house who can TT well and climb and Ron is a strong all-around rider so the pair was definitely a threat. Fortunately for me the field was playing coy and letting the recently turned 50 Rob Lyons of Finkraft set to the task of pulling them back. Going in, if I were a betting man, my money would have been on Rob winning the day.
Just when Eric and Ron were pulled back around mile 23 the road road pitched up and I saw my opportunity. I was not a points threat and both Eric and Rob were winded so I attacked. I got about 15s up the road and held it steady waiting to see if anyone would react. When we hit Rt32 a few miles later I looked back and I had roughly 30s on the field and one rider, David Potter of CCB, was 15s back trying to bridge. I held it steady for a few more miles until he bridged up and we started a rotation. Before long the field was out of sight and we were moving well despite a strong head wind. We reached the start of the climb and I told David that if we could get over the top out of sight of the field we may have a chance. We did and learned a little later from the moto that we had about a 2 minute gap with 23 miles to go.
About 15 miles from the finish the course bends around a lake which gave us a rearward view of about half a mile. I looked back and spotted about 10 riders chasing us. Thinking it was 10:2 going into the wind I was settling on likely being caught and tucking in. Just at that moment a moto came up and told us we were minutes up on our field and that we should keep pushing. Minutes up? Then who is that right behind us? Turns out it was a break from the CAT4 field that had started behind us and their group was large enough that the officials had decided to neutralize the 50+ for a minute to let them through. Hallelujah! As Wayne used to say, "Christmas in April!" My ploy had worked. After David and I lost sight of the field the cat and mouse games took over and their indecision allowed us to stay clear, and now we had another field between us! All we had left to do was ride another 10 miles into the wind and climb 3. No problem, right? Shut up legs!!!!
We got to the climb still minutes ahead and started passing 40+ riders from the field in front of us. David had mentioned the first time up that he was more of a crit guy so I figured my best bet was to try and ride him off my wheel on the climb. To his credit he hung on and when we hit the last 100m with about a 4% grade he went around and put a bike length between us and I thought he had me. Then he faltered for a second and I put in a final push managing to get him by a 1/2 wheel at the line. It was a good day to be on a bike.
Nice job, Pat. Congratulations.
And by the way, Wayne doesn't believe in Christmas.
Thanks John. I think it's actually Santa Claus that Wayne no longer believes in.
Good for you Pat, great work. Thoroughly enjoyed your report, especially the part " I bided my time near the front". Having never had the opportunity to "bide by time' in a race. or during a group ride for that matter, it is nice to get an idea of what goes at the front. Stay sharp until Tokeneke , when we line up together once again. But seriously, you can be very proud of a great effort and win.
Thanks Walt! Looking forward to it.