May 26, 2010

NECS #2 - Weeping Willow

I had been super pumped for this race long before it even existed. In the fall of last year, I rode with Ipswich (location of the venue) resident and Cannondale Factory Racer, Matt O'Keefe and some other fast locals. He hinted that a race might be held at the park, Willowdale State Forest this year. Willowdale has become pretty popular recently. It doesn't have anything very technical, but it has miles and miles of fantastic, flowy and sustainable trails that beg to be ridden fast. The route he took us on in the fall ended up being very similar to the race course. It is close to my house, about 25 minutes by car and 50 by bike. Unfortunately, I don't get to ride there as much as I'd like to, but I still felt like it was my "home course." Apparently, I wasn't the only one pumped up for the race. Bikereg showed 254 racers on the pre-reg list, which is huge. To put that in perspective, EFTA is the smaller of the two local mtb series in New England. A typical race may have 75 pre-registered and 254 showing up. Two other races were going on that day and there was a popular road race the day before. About 420 racers showed up. That is about 200 more than a typical EFTA race and 100 more than a Root 66 Race. The backup - backup parking lot even filled up.

The morning of didn't go as planned...I woke up an hour later than I had set my alarm clock for, leaving me with about 20 minutes to get ready. Once we got to the venue, our minivan got stuck in the mud. Luckily, us bicyclists are somewhat strong and some fellow racers helped us out.
The actual race went surprisingly well for whatever reason. Four of us toed the line, Ryan was there and so were two kids I had never seen before. I got the holeshot after a long fireroad sprint and stayed in front. I caught my nemesis, Ben Chase, who, now 18 is racing in the next group up and had started a few minutes before me. I have never bested him, he has always manged to put 15-30 seconds on me in the last 15 minutes of racing. We talked and rode together for 10 miles, then I pulled away...and finally crossed the finish line in front of him and all the other juniors. No crashing, no mechanicals, good weather (a bit warm, though), dry course, great vibe, etc, etc. It was great! I guess that extra hour of sleep payed off.My time ended up being right up there with the fast Experts. I ended up 14th out of 77 total Experts, but my time was only about two minutes slower than the majority of the people faster than me in an almost two hour race.

I saw a bunch of friends I hadn't seen for a while, and it was fun to catch up on things. I'm still waiting on race pictures. There were probably 10 cameras pointed at me each lap, but none of those people got pictures of me. So far, four races, four wins. I don't want to race with the Elites just yet, because they are still quite a bit faster than me and I don't have the time to dedicate myself to the volume of training needed not to get DFL. I'm still riding only about once a week, so I don't know why I'm not getting DFL in the Expert class.

Anyways, I can't wait until next year!


  1. Great job! The two junior at Winsted were no where near the top 20 Cat1's.
    It seems things are swinging in EFTA's favor judging by the last 2 events.