July 1, 2010

Owasco Flyer Race Report

Okay, so to start this post off, I wasn't really stoked to race this past Sunday, it was kind of a blow off race (C-level race) for me and really I was just using it to get some more experience on the bike and just get out there and do a nice ride for the day. I woke up and had already gotten "the tank" all set and cleaned up and ready to ride. After hopping in the car and driving out to Auburn, I unpacked and saw a familiar face at the registration tent handing out chips. It was Boots from the local Fleet Feet store and as an ex-cyclist and duathlete, I think he likes to have a hand in timing this race. He's the one in the pic below that's pulling back his pony tail and cutting off the excess zip ties from every ones forks before the start.
It was nice to see a familiar face in the crowd as I usually don't race bikes and subsequently don't know too many folks that ride in this area. Regardless, they said over the announcements that there was a record crew there set to race that day and had over 300 starters in the field. Jokingly, Boots said to "keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up" on my ride and I was hoping to do just that.
We rolled out and there was congestion right from the start. I know when you start that many folks on roads that are not closed (i.e. - we only have one single lane to ride in) there's bound to be some bumping and jostling. Oh well, completely manageable. The only thing that kind of sucked was the pace was pedestrian and we would speed up, and then suddenly brake for no apparent reason. And I know that the "pack dynamics" are a little different than riding solo, but this bordered on ridiculous. Whenever the peleton would start slowing, folks would yell out, "BRAKE!" or "SLOWING" and everyone would suddenly just jump on their brakes without regard to what was happening around them causing the whole pack to bunch up in accordion style fashion. Not cool, but I guess that's what you get when you have a "Citizens Race" and don't split riders up by abilities. Well, we rolled on and the pack gradually got smaller, I was comfortably at the tail end of the lead pack of about 50-70 riders and just sucking wheel riding along. As you can see from the pics, there were a few distinct packs within the first few miles of the start.
We rolled on and were clicking off some good miles in the beginning portions of the "race". I use that term loosely because it was more like a "tour" because I was chatting away with folks next to me and just relaxing riding the flat ground for the first 15 or so miles. The first real climb and preme came around mile 20 and that seemed to be where the action started. But let me back up a tad, this is what happened about 40 minutes into the ride...
Not exactly like that, but close. And no it wasn't me, but I was sitting at the tail end of the front pack just cruising and watching all these people that were WAY more squirrelly than me on the bike jostling around and moving all over. In retrospect, I should've been at the front of that pack to avoid accidents, but I didn't want to ride over the double yellow line and into on-coming traffic. (there were SEVERAL yellow line violations thru the day and also cars that were passing us as a group on the roads - not smart) It just became a little ridiculous that these were country roads and people FLY on them driving 65mph and they were passing a group of 70 riders around a blind corner, just not intelligent in the least.
So, we're rolling along, going up a tiny little hill and I look up the road about in the middle of the pack in front of me and see a guy take a header and completely go off the road - ass over tea kettle and flip his handlebars and land in a ditch. Simultaneously, about 3-5 riders to the left of him hit the pavement. All of this happened UP HILL....that shouldn't happen friends. We all stood up and carefully tiptoed around the mess and I got clear, but the wreckage claimed a few more folks and caused them to tumble down. This really just decreased the impedance of the ride for me. Watching that crash, plus the news that my teammate Jon Bottoms was hit by a car that same morning during the bike portion of the Quakerman Triathlon, made me ease up and realize that the water bottle that you would get from winning the preme on the climb wasn't worth crashing out of the race and suffering another horrific injury.
We rode on and hit the first "big climb" and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I kind of lost contact with the main field before this climb as I was hanging off the back gripping the brakes. Regardless, I pedalled my heart out and caught back up to the tail end of the field after the nervousness subsided from the steep downhill section that I just poured down. Once back on the tail end of the field, things got busy. We were at about 20 miles into a 36 mile race and there were two climbs that were up. The first one was nice and I kind of watched the folks in front of me break off and a new peloton form. They gapped us a little bit and suddenly I was in the middle of the 2nd chase pack of about 20 riders or so.
I'll be honest with you all, I kinda shut it off at this time. I was having fun attacking the hills and right after the 2nd hill preme, I tried to launch up and bridge the gap to the 1st chase pack that I could see up the road. There were two other riders with me and I thought it might work for a minute. We rode hard for a few miles and were making up a LITTLE ground, but it wasn't happening too quickly. The guy in green that was in the break next to me gave up and at that point we got swallowed by the pack behind us (chase#2)
So there are several short tiny climbs leading up to the finish line and I thought I was timing it really well and attacking up these climbs correctly, but I misjudged and was caught sprinting to the top of the SECOND to last climb and not the final climb. I rolled in for a mediocre 38th position overall and 6th in my age group. Overall, I was happy that I stayed upright and got a little more experience in bike racing as well (although I don't think this race qualifies as a "mass start" for upgrading to cat 4 seeing as how it;s not sanctioned by USCF) . Realistically I think I was strong enough to have been in the pack in front of me, just wasn't in the right place at the right time (I was busy freaking out on the downhill and getting shelled off the back of the pack) But it was certainly fun to jump up the climbs at the end and launch all around the other riders near me on the uphills. All in all, good race, just sketchy riders all over because of it being a citizens race.
Next up is the Musselman Half Ironman in Geneva, NY. But first there's a big hiking trip this weekend to hit up the Seward Range in the Adirondacks with a few friends over this long weekend. Gonna be some proverbial fireworks in the weeks to come, I guarantee that!!! :o) See you out on the roads and trails friends, cheers!


klammon said...

Nice Gloves! :-)

Tim said...

Nice work keepin' the skin on the body and avoiding any skin malfunctions. I did the Owasco Stage Race in 2007 and I think it use to finish on the same set of rollers and I remember misjudging the final roller and going one early too. I won't touch on the irony of you going early. Good luck at Mussel. Yeah, nothing funny from me today. It's too hot in Rochester right now and I am just dreading my run tonight. Oh yeah, nice gloves!

Cusetri said...


it was great meeting you yesterday at mussel!

good luck today, as I type you are racing hard!

If you ever are out in Syracuse, shoot me an e-mail and we'll go ride....I would only slow you down on the run...;)