Monday, May 2, 2011

Tour de Ephrata

The last time I raced at Ephrata I was a Cat 5. It look me a few years to forget what a miserable time I had. Well I finally forgot and decided to go back to do some stage racing. 
We started with a 53 mile road race. 

I liked it this time. When I think back on it, this is what road means to me especially in the Philadelphia area. Fast racing (with the exception of the first two laps) on a fun, and twisty course. It was mostly flat, but very windy. Lots of sketch, lots of crazy moves up the gutter, lots of screaming at folks breaking the yellow line rule. 
Going into the last lap the bunch was pretty much all together. There was a break of 6 or so that had been away for a lap. We were bringing them back but it would be close. Heading into the last climb I jumped. I didn't get separation, but it strung it out, and sent some of the sprinters to the caboose. Half way up the climb we caught the break. 

Here is where things got a little nuts. We ran up on 3 riders from the masters race lead break. The ref had tried to get them to pull off so that our group of 60 could go by. Instead they jumped into our line.
About 500 curse words later, the sprint started, with the group of 60  (and masters guys) all together. We had a long straight false flat with heavy head cross wind to sprint into. 
I had a wind facing line, but pushed myself into some shelter before I launched my sprint from maybe 12th. I moved up a bit as guys faded and grabbed 6th at the line.
6th place, I initially thought, what a bummer, not I can't bail and go race my mountain bike at Granogue.

TT. The TT was actually a lot of fun. Way more fun than a typical out and back. The course was well thought out and had something for everyone. Oh yeah and it has a huge climb. A huge climb with 15% grades tossed in for good measure. I went out and purchased a set of clip on aerobars at 7:30pm, and grabbed a set of Zipps from one of our awesome sponsors for the TT. My strategy was to get to the climb. I got to the climb, and then I crushed the climb. I felt great, in a horrible sort of way. 
I finished 9th, missing 8th by .1 seconds. Mark Flis started 1 minute behind me and lucky for me, he didn't pass me, although he sure got close.

Crit. The result in the TT put me in 4th on GC, tied for 3rd. Admittedly I was freaking out a bit. The only thing that stood in my way was a super scary Mike Festa Disapproved 4 corner downtown crit. I got a call up in the crit. We'll see when that happens again. Joe Jefferson was on the mic, and it felt like cyclocross. We went fast from lap 1. We went 6 wide into corners, we bumped, clipped and slid around. People started crashing, I started loosing position. A break went up the road, and the Shirks team went to the front and strung the race out. Newport pulled me back up way too many times... and then we got to 2 laps to go. I was hanging on trying to stay up there. 
And then everyone fell down. Big crashes in turn 2 and 3 took out half of the remaining field. I narrowly avoided both and finished 16th. 
All of the GC threats with a few exceptions made it though, and my 16th pushed me back to 6th on GC. Some guys fell out of the top 10 with the crashes. 
I happy with it, more importantly I had fun. The race was well run and the courses were a blast. 

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