There have been times in my life where I felt like I was a real beast on the hills. Times when I felt like I could suffer with the leaders over the top of the hill, only to hammer it out on the backside and along the flats where I could use my power to my advantage and put all those skinny little runts on the rivet as the try to hold my wheel. I am proud of these times and will take any opportunity to tell a willing listener how good I used to feel on the climbs. Take for instance the 2012 Greene County Road Race where I was able to lead the field over the first climb and then somewhere between Kuhntown (pronounced CoonTown) and Brave I solo'd away from the Cat 4/5 field for about 15 miles. I got caught on the next to last climb but stayed with the main group and hung on long enough to get over the last climb in a top 10 positon and sprinted to a 3rd place finish. The plan going into the day was to have Jerry and I attack early and often to try to soften the legs of the other riders by chasing us so that our our other teammates like Shawn Geiger, James Braswell, Jonathan Suite, and Chris Jones could sit in and be fresh to attack on the final climb. But things didn't quite work out the way we had hoped and a couple of mechanicals and a mistimed attack put the fork in our Big Plans.
But I am not at the same fitness level I was back in 2012, and it is my goal to get back to the point where I am contending for podium finishes, even if I am racing in a much stronger field. My coach had me well on track to be there very soon, but my promotion at work put me on a different time table, and the 3+ weeks of training I lost to the switch have definitely hurt. But its back to the grindstone for me and I am refocusing my energies and I am confident that I will get back to that level once again. And this past weekend was further proof that I am headed in the right direction. Round #2 of the ABRA Road Race series was this past weekend and while it is ALWAYS a race I enjoy because I grew up riding these very roads, I wasn't just so sure it would be enough to make a difference if I had a bad day.
This year's course was a lolipop where most of the fields do a double loop. The loop starts at the top of big, steep climb up to Warriror's Ridge and, and except for the descent a few miles later, remains relatively flat until the end of the lap where we would have to climb the backside of the ridge. Between each of the 3 big climbs, was a relatively flat 18 mile stretch of road that was suited to my strengths and the focus of my training this past winter. As expected, I was dropped by the leaders on the first climb (mile 5.5) and I was next to last to the top. But there were others around me, many of the same people I had worked so well with the past weekend in Morgantown, so I knew I still had an opportunity to work with some of these guys and improve my position. In short order we were again a field of about 5 or 6 with lots of singles out in front to dangle as a carrot and chase down to hopefully build a formidable chase group. In short order, we were a strong group of 8, with 4 40+'s, 2 50+, 1 60+, and a Women's 1-2-3. We rode well together around the first loop but got stretched out on the second climb. I was last up it out of our octet, but soon got back on the wheels of the two in front of me. I soon realized that the 3 of together were not gaining on the 5 in front, so I decided to give it a go and try to bridge back up to the bigger group. I was happy to really feel my training pay off as I slowly but surely closed the gap over the next couple miles, and I finally latched back on their wheels just before we descended the second time down. Lap 2 was more of the same but we started picking up and dropping singles who had fallen off the pace of the 4/5 field in front of us.
|Right at the top of the first climb and already starting to catch a few of the people who I'd end up riding with the rest of the day|
Photo Credits: Cassie Fetzer
I finished dead last out of our 6 that started the second lap together, but it was good enough for 10th overall in the Masters 40+ field. Its still a long way from the podium spot I want. But on the good side, Devin Corboy managed to bring home a 3rd place and Jim Mock and Chris Jones were just off the podium in 6th and 7th, respectively.
|Last Time up... I worked hard to muster a duck face for the camera but Cassie missed it :-(|
Photo Credits: Cassie Fetzer
You can look for me on the following dates at these races:
4/14/2015 ACA Masters
4/15/2015 ACA B's
4/21/2015 ACA Masters
4/22/2015 ACA B's
4/26/2015 ABRA McKeesport Crit
4/28/2015 ACA Masters
4/29/2015 ACA B's
5/2/2015 ABRA Fort Cherry Classic
5/5/2015 ACA Masters
5/6/2015 ACA B's
5/12/2015 ACA Masters
5/13/2015 ACA B's
5/17/2015 Easter Ohio Time Trial Series