Monday, April 7, 2014

Lowell 50 - Classic Gravel Road Race

I can't get enough of racing on gravel roads, and the Lowell 50 is one of my favorites. It's located in some of the best rolling terrain this state has to offer. With a good mix of short steep hills. a few long grinders, and some open flat farm fields that course seems to have a little bit of everything thing for all all types of riders. Not to mention the beautiful park and backdrop of the Flat River Valley. Thanks to Jeff Z. for making this race possible.

This year mother nature decided to throw in a bit of mud, to make it a little bit more challenging. The race attendance grew, and the competition got better as well. All this made for some great racing!

I came into the race a bit tired but hungry to get back into some fast pace racing. The guys to watch were going to be Simon Bailey who put up a blistering timing at Barry-Roubaix and Adam McIntyre. And of course, there are always the unknown players as well. I got a front row start next to Adam, Simon, and Tony Baustik. We rolled out the train all the way to the historic wooden covered bridge. The pace quickened as the first few attacks came from some unknowns. We now hit the first gravel section and were coming on on one of the steepest and biggest climbs of the day. Adam made a jump and I covered as did Simon and Tony. We hit the hill at the same time. Adam and Simon Surged ahead. I was just behind with Tony. We were already blowing the field apart and I was into the red zone as well. Simon, Adam, Tom White and Tristan Greathouse were slowly slipping away from us and getting a gap. We finally crested the hill, and I had to play catch up. Tony and I were working together and soon latched back on. But before we could fully recover and get into a groove, the 2nd round of hills came. Pedal stroke by pedal stroke the gap swelled again, but they were still within site and hope. I put in my best effort, and soon found Tony was dislodged from my wheel. A few more hills and I could now see Tom and Tristan slowly coming back to me. Simon and Adam were off the front alone, but I was pinning the rest back and there was still a lot of racing left.

I continued to push and finally made contact with Tom and Tristan. We made our truce and decided to work together for the remainder of the race. All 3 of us were in different age groups, but we knew that the 3rd step of the podium for the overall and maybe more was still up for grabs. Were worked well together, and shared the load equally. By now we could not see Simon or Adam, and no one behind us as well. this gave me time to think about a strategy if I had a chance. Ton and Tristan were slightly better than I was on the hills, but the rest of the course was fair game. The problem was, there were still a lot of hills.

Since I had done the race the year before, I remembered much of the course. I knew that the after the last big climb with about 2 miles to go, it was relatively flat with only a few steep bumps. If I had a chance and was feeling good this was going to be the place. On the decent off the last hill, I was on Tristan's wheel and Tom was behind me. At the bottom of the road, we hit the nastiest muddy rutted section of the course thus far. Tristan hit a deep rut that slowed him down and threw him to the left. I managed to steer clear and stay to the right. And I knew this was my spot. I stepped on the gas! Out of the saddle and full on sprint. I was now in the upper limits of my TT pace. I took a quick peak back and saw I already had a good gap. I turned the screws just a bit more. hit the 2 small bumps with the legs already full of lactic acid. But I was still holding my gap. Finally, onto the pavement I knew I was safe and kept the pace high all the way to the line. I took the last step for 3rd in the overall 34 mile race and 1st in my age group.

Congrats to;

Simon for another blistering performance to snag another overall win!
Adam McIntyre for getting off the couch for the first time this year, and coming out just to kick my ass for a solid 2nd place overall!
To Tom and Tristan for sharing the load during the race and both taking home 1st in their age groups!
Jim Jackovatz for a solid 3rd place in his age group!
Adam York for 2nd place in the Big Kids Race!

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