Sunday, May 17, 2009

Conestoga Challenge Race Report.

This week my quest for Cat 3 upgrade points lead me to the Conestoga Challenge in Conestoga, PA.
This race had an atypical course profile for Lancaster area races, meaning it actually had hills of note. You an watch a whole video of the course here:
I was pumped with the 1:00pm start as it did not require I wake up at the butt crack of dawn like last weekend. The weather was damp and a little chilly, as you can see by my lovely wife sporting not 1 but 2 hoodies.
We were to do 3 12 mile laps on the course. I fully expected a parade lap for at least the first few miles, but to my surprise as soon as we hit the first significant hill it was go time. Every time we hit the slightest grade it was z5/z6 wattage and the significant sting that comes along with each. The race thinned out a bit after the first lap as the group shelled some of the field. I was expecting some carnage at this race. As the video shows the course is twisty and the pavement is less than stellar in some spots. I was pleased to see that everyone was pretty calm and there were very few if any incidents for the technical nature of the race. Some of the descents were a little hairy, 45+ mph into hairpins. On the second lap one rider got a gap and we let him get out a little. I was confident that the group I was in could real him back with over 20 miles to go and some serious power in the group. After on of the bigger climbs I found myself in a solid group of 3 off the front. We were joined by maybe 3 more. A Navy rider and myself tried to organize the group and get away, but we ultimately were caught after only a few of us were taking steady pulls.

On the following descent I almost died as a horse and buggy was allowed to cross in front of the course right as the bunch was rounding a hairpin at the bottom of a long descent. Lap two was pretty ugly from a power standpoint.

On the third lap we caught the rider who went off the front. The fireworks slowly started to go off. A rider from JMU jumped on almost every climb. The Navy rider was taking some pretty nice pulls and looked strong. After we had completed the last of the climbing I felt pretty burnt. I peaked back and only saw maybe 10 riders, we had dropped a lot of people on the last lap.
The finish was pretty calm for as nuts as it could have been. Only two semi sketchy things occurred at 40mph flying back into town... I hit a pot hole that I felt all the way up to my chin, I have no idea how I didnt flat. And I got cut off by a rider in front of me who made a jump and nearly knocked my front wheel out from under me. I rolled into the final 500 m in maybe 7th wheel. I was able to jump at 200 m to go and move into third but couldn't match the sprint of the two riders less than a bike length in front of me. I ended the day in 3rd with a few more points and a couple more bucks to my name.

This picture. need I say more.

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