Saturday, April 18, 2015

Lowell 50 - Classic Gravel Road Race

The Lowell 50 is silently becoming one of the best races in the state if not the mid-west! with a beautiful start finish venue, some of the best dirt roads in the state, and an awesome race promoter, its not hard to see why. And each year since the race has started, the field has gotten better and deeper in both the 34 mile and the 57 miler. For the past few years, this race has been a must do and top priority for me. This year wasn't any different. But with the depth of the field, and moving into the always fast 40-44 age group, I knew this wasn't going to be easy and I would have my work cut out for myself.

The race started out with a neutral roll out this year. The KLM squad had a full armada in the race, and everyone was showing their best. This was a good sign as we could all try to work together throughout the race. As the roll out vehicle rolled to the side. JTP threw the first punch! This got the group going. Jim J, Tony B, JMAK, Shaun W, and myself all closed in near the front of the group. This start to break things up a bit already. As we approached the first big steep climb of the day. JTP threw his 2nd blow. I jumped on as did several others. By the time we cleared the top, the majority of the selection of who's who was already sorted out. JTP, JMAK, Jim J, Tony B, and myslef began to try and turn the screws and rotated through the pack to share the work.

We continued like this for the first half of the race. Then out of no where, Luke Mullis, and the Martin Brothers, along with a few others, came from behind with an attack up a slow grinder. The pace quickened, but was manageable. It was clear that these guys had been sitting in, and to my surprise, the group was still 10-15 guys strong.

The fresh guys began to play games a bit. Another big hill and then a hard attack. JTP jumped right on the wheel of the leaders. I slowly got popped at this point and fell off the back. Shaun, and Bryan Waldmen came to the rescue. Bryan told me to hop on his wheel. This helped me recover a bit. And on the next section, I turned on my diesel in the flats and motored all 3 of us back to the lead pack. This was it. The winner was going to come out of this group. There was no longer anyone in sight behind us as well.

As we hit the pavement again, we crossed the river and began climbing again. This time JTP and one of the young guys went off the front. No one chased. Tony and I settled in to see what would happen. The gap grew to at least 30 seconds. I thought they might actually have a chance to stay away. Finally one of the Martin brothers yelled out, to the rest of us, "we cant let them get away". Then they took up the chase. We were all back together again.

We rolled through the remain parts of the course with minimal accelerations. Then as the last few hills popped up. The attacks happened again. Every hill someone would go! I covered them and was still in the group. One by one, others were slowly getting dropped. On the last big hill the group was down to 8 riders. I was still hanging on. JTP was on the front! I just couldn't hold on any longer, and now I was popped. But I still had Bryan W, and another guy by my side. We closed the gaps before and we can do it again. I turned the diesels on one more time and pushed forward doing most of the work. I was OK with this as I was feeling good, and figured it was my chance to lose. We closed down the gap to about 10 seconds before the last turn. I now knew that the top 5 overall was settled, but there was still a chance to snag the last step of the 40-44 age group podium. I turned the screws one last time, and finished just a few feet ahead of the other guys that I had worked with. It was enough for 3rd in the age group, and still 7th overall for the race out 250+. Still very respectable!

My hat is off to JTP for fighting in the front the entire race and giving himself a chance to win all the way to the end.

Tony B and JMAK for hang in the front all day long and keeping the race real and high paced! You guys had some kick ass results!

Jim J and Shaun W. You put it all out there in the early part of the race, and helped the team overall, and still had solid results! Very Cool.

Yankee Springs! Next stop...

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