As Don alluded to in his previous entry, I traded my knobby tires for some serious road racing this summer. While it didn't go particularly well, my level of fitness does bode well for the cyclocross season and the ultimate goal: collegiate cyclocross nationals.
The first part of the summer I spent visiting with my folks in New England.
The summer of fun kicked off with the Housatonic Hills road race on June 24th in Connecticut. This 27 mile course boasted a looooong and steep finishing climb. Despite a massive field and being dropped early, I hung on for 24th place.
Next, I celebrated the 4th of July with a few criteriums in Northampton, MA. In the 4/5, an early crash stopped the race for 15 minutes. After the restart, two more serious crashes led me to decide to sit up for the finish. I came in 31st. With my shiny new cat 4 license I decided to get my money's worth by racing the 3/4 race as well. Unfortunately, shortly after the start rain led to the race being cancelled.
The following weekend, I headed to Attleboro, MA for another criterium. In the 4 race I was feeling great until 11 laps to go when I was crashed in a corner by another rider. After taking a free lap and riding a few more laps, I chose to abandon.
The next weekend, I headed off to Claremont, NH for a technical and fast 3/4 criterium. Rain and a hard pace led to me leaving this race as well.
I returned to New Jersey in mid-July just in time to turn around and head to the Owasco Stage Race in Auburn, NY. This 3 stage, 2 day race was to be my trial by fire in stage racing. It did not begin well. In the 12 mile time trial, I finished over 6 minutes down, 68th place in the general classification. In the afternoon, we had the circuit race. I rode a great race to finish 14th in the field sprint and move to 43rd in the GC. Sunday brought the 57 mile road race with 7 "king of the mountain" climbs. Despite doing most of my training in the flatlands of central NJ, I was a trooper and tried to tough it out. I wound up finishing 20 minutes down to the race winner in 43rd place. I finished 47th in the general classification.
This past weekend I continued the multi-day racing by competing in the cat 4 Tour de 'Toona points race. Unlike Owasco, the overall classification was determined by points, not overall time. 'Toona also did not offer a TT as part of the competition, so I would be more apt to have a better race. Friday started off with the Martinsburg Circuit race; this windy, rolling 40 mile race suited my riding style well and I was able to finish in the field - 29th place. Saturday, the road race was contested. Despite being only 20 miles, the course was punctuated by a long, steep climb. I struggled early on to remain in the bunch, then halfway up the climb I came off. I found a great chase group and managed to finish 64th. Sunday, the criterium was contested in downtown Altoona. If there was one stage I was looking forward to, it was the criterium. The course is a challenging and technical affair with a slightly uphill, cobbled finish. I rode well early on but flatted. I got a wheel from neutral support and took my free lap. Shortly after I got back in, I was caught behind a crash and forced to chase. With 5 laps to go, the group I was with was asked to retire.
And thus ends my foray into road racing. In the next few weeks, the Rutgers 'cross crew and I will be checking in on our early season fitness at 'Cross Under the Lights in Augusta, NJ. Look for a large crew of Rutgers racers to descend upon the Sussex County Fair grounds and show, once again, their dominance of NJ Cyclocross.