There are several very good races here in new england. One of them is the Auburn Road Race in Auburn Maine. An 11 mile circuit, with 5 short super steep little climbs, the kind you just punch your way over. The road surface is generally good but choppy in spots, very little traffic and even less settlement. Climbers do well on this course but it isn't really a climbers course. Very fit all-arounders and TT specialists can do well here since the hills are short. Orchards, swamps, and scenic vistas - if you're not racing the views and terrain are beautiful.
This race is only three years old but replaces the previous iteration in the same area. The old race was an 11 mile circuit with 1100 feet of climbing per lap, with several very steep 1/4 - 1/2 mile climbs. The downhills were steep and twisty as well, and dangerous. I left alot of skin there one year after losing it on a downhill corner doing well over 40. Still, I liked the race, but it was very hard, and people basically stopped going.
The new course is much easier. I raced it the first year they had it, and broke my chain on the second lap (out of 5).
The weather was fabulous. 70's, bright sun, slight tailwind into the slight uphill finish. The start is at the top of the finish hill, and heads immediately into a high 40s mph downhill, followed right away by the first short steep climb, then followed by another downhill, this one over a mile long and easy to keep a 30 mph speed even into the slight headwind.
One rider took off at the top of this long downhill on the first lap, about one mile into the 56 mile race.
Fine, let him go. If he stays away, he deserves it.
The second time up that steep climb, Local Hero Tyler Munroe attacks. I was behind another local luminary Joe Rano, when he accelerated to go with tyler. I stayed on his wheel up the hill to the crest, then shifted into my big ring for the long downhill.
oops, lets try that again.
I stayed on his wheel up the hill to the crest, then shifted into my big ring for the long downhill.
shifted into my big ring
SHIFTED INTO MY BIG RING
SHIFT YOU MOTHER FUCKER!!!!!!!!!
fucking thing wouldn't go onto the big ring. I watch as rano, tyler, abramson, and another guy pull away, soft pedaling and using every bit of my hand strength to shove the shift the left paddle to force the chain into the big ring. FUCK! I'm riding a 53/39 12x23. No way I'm going to be able to spin a 39x12 downhill to get those guys. As I'm fucking with the shifter, others start to come by. Finally, I get the chain on the big ring. Too late. They're gone. With a CCB, Gearworks, an OA cycles in the break, and two guys from each team blocking, they're gone, especially with pretty much a local who's who in the break.
fuckity fucking fuck.
Finally, I make the right move, at the right time, with the fitness to back it up, and it slips away.
Now, I'm not saying I would have won, I'm not even saying that I would have been able to stay with the break. Knowing who was in it, there's a good likely hood that I would have been dropped anyways, but shit. This is one of those chances I don't get too often.
Riding on the hopes that there would have been a reasonable chase, I left the chain on the big ring. I was able to slug out the hills in my 53x23, but wouldn't be able to go with any hard accelerations. I gave a number of chases, attacked a few times to get the pack moving, worked with a couple guys riding alone as well as a couple of sunapee guys (they missed the break), but with 6 guys blocking......wasn't gonna happen.
Heading up to the finish with one lap to go, some stupid fucking fred standing on the side of the road in a day glo jersey announces "a minute 45, you guys are done". We were just up over the last steep pitch in the circuit and going maybe 8 miles an hour. The whole pack heard him. I yelled back:
"HEY, FUCK OFF"
I've never heard so many guys laughing and wheezing at the same time before.
I ended up about 12th or so. I felt as good in this race as I have in any race. At least I think my fitness is good, now i need to wait for that magic alignment of fitness, luck, sound decision making, and everyone else to totally fuck up, and I should be good.