So for those of you not in the know I went back up to A's this weekend at Dartmouth. I decided to do it on Friday night. I had registered for B's but knowing that I had been feeling good and that a lot of guys were at the Tour of the Battenkill, I figured I'd take advantage.
The crit, where I had gotten 5th last year, was Fast, Furious, Wet and Cold. I stayed in for a while but was shortly popped off the back. After several laps I ended up getting lapped by the field and jumped back in. After a few more laps in the field I crashed and threw up. So i took my free lap and got back in the field. Of course, I was dropped again after 2-3 laps back in the bunch. So I just put my head down and kept going. Then when the field lapped me for a 2nd time I gave up. However, this was a HUGE mistake, because I was still in contention for points as 8 other people had already quit. If I had just stayed in and finished I would have gotten 19th, scored some points and wrapped up my nationals qualification. Damn.
(in the Crit, stolen Photo from BRob)
That night, at dinner with John Frey, Joe, Drexel Tim, AJ and Cory (WIT) I got relentlessly heckeled for quitting while still in contention for points. But, this only strengthened my resolve to get points in the 73 mile road race the next day.
After a good breakfast at Lou's Diner in Hanover, NH, where I had some french toast, Tim and I rolled on up to the Road Race and spent a couple of hours mulling around the parking lot. I was a little concerned about the course because Brianand Natan (BU) had expressed concern that I'd need something like a 27 or 28 tooth to survive the climbs on the course. Seeing as I only brought a 12-25 cassette I shrugged my shoulders and hoped for the best.
The race had just 24 starters, far lower than most other Men's A races. In truth, I was half expecting to get dropped about half way through the race and I would do the second half of the race solo, and grab whatever points were available in hopes to qualify for nationals in Colorado next month.
The race broke down in as follows, after the neutral start Steve Pingree (Army) attacked and Pete (Conn Coll) and a UConn rider went as well. One of the MIT guys tried to bridge a short time later and then the field decided to sit up for a while, about 45 miles or so. The first half of the race had a few sparse bridge attempts, but the Army guys were on the front and tried to shut any attacks down for the sake of Steve, who was well up the road. Some time around the halfway point Natan told me, "This race is boring, I'm going to attack." Soon after he tried to get away and I happened to be near the front so I tried to chase him down, Tim quickly got on my wheel and blew past me, but I realized that once again the Army boys were going to shut it down. We all got caught.
However sometime later, Brian (BU), Derek (Army), Ross (UVM), and Lee (UVM) all attacked. With Army and UVM making up over half the field no one was willing to chase them down and everyone let them go. A Cornell guy bridged up and that was pretty much the race. I managed to survive the rest of main loop in the field and made it up the major climbs without too much difficulty.
When we got to the last lap I was feeling a bit dehydrated and I had finished all of the water I brought and just tried to stay in. I stayed in the field until we hit the finishing climb, where I quickly got dropped and I rode the last 2 mile climb on my own. I made it to the finish about two and half minutes behind the rest of the "main field" and John informed me that I had finished 19th, and scored 2 points. I would have celebrated, but I was seriously tired and thought I could have done a bit better on the last climb if I had eaten more food during the race. But, I was happy with the result.
All told, I did 3 hours 28 minutes and 29 seconds in the saddle, and 73 or so miles. It was really satisfying to see all my hard hours in the winter pay off. This was the longest race I'd ever finished and I had done pretty well.
I'd like to give two Huge shout outs in this post as well.
1) Emma Bast (Mount Holyoke) who won the women's A crit (after lapping the field with 2 other riders) and won road race over the weekend.
2) Steve Pingree (Army) who attacked at mile 5 in the road race and stayed away for the solo victory 68 miles later.
So, now it's looking like I'm in good shape to qualify for Nationals, so long a whole bunch of division two riders don't ruin my fun. Wish me luck!
As a final note, it's unfortunate that a lot of guys who are faster then me, have raced more A races, and perhaps have more points will not be eligible for the nationals road race.