Monday, October 11, 2010

Jamestown Road Race

Ok, despite the lack of race related posts it was a pretty busy season for me.  I can't say I won anything, but there was steady progress beginning with Purgatory, then continuing into Fitchburg Longsjo, Attleboro Criterium, Workingman's Stage Race, Concord Criterium, Salem Witches Cup and now Jamestown RR.  There was the usual smattering of Wells Aves and Wompatucks as well.  Maybe I will post on those other races later.

I had never raced Jamestown before, and as always when racing somewhere new there was apprehension about what I was getting myself into.  I have been told before that "you'll do fine" only to be dropped on the first major climb one too many times I guess.

It was a beautiful day for racing with temps in the high 50's at the start and well into the mid 60's by the finish.  The Cat 4's did 2 laps for a total of 38 miles.  Jamestown RI is a beautiful island not far from Newport, with a nice little village on the south side of the island and some great scenery along the way.  The island is long and skinny running in a north/south direction.  I had been told there were hills, but they really weren't bad--all of them could be knocked down in the big ring.  There were a lot of bigger riders in the race which was a good sign for me--a sprinter's race.

There were a few small breaks but nothing that was capable of sticking.  As we headed north the headwinds were too strong.  Once we headed south, the pack was really rolling along and nothing was going to get away.  As others have reported, the road around the lighthouse (at about mile 12-14) is dicey--winding and fairly narrow--and kind of reminded me of a paved golf cart path.  After the light house, you've got about 3 miles to position yourself for the final uphill section before the final downhill sprint.  Actually, how you do in this race depends on how strong you are on that final power climb.  After the climb there is a short downhill into a 90 degree left turn, and then the final downhill sprint.  Generally speaking, you go through the corner in the same positioning you earned going over the hill, and you cross the finish line in the same position you rounded the corner.  I was talking to one guy from Hallamore who'd raced it before and he put it well when he said Jamestown is a 37 mile warmup followed by a 1 mile race.  That last hill takes about 90 seconds to climb and is about a mile from the line.

I had good positioning throughout the race but by about mile 30 I knew today wsan't going to be my day.  I have not ridden much over the last month and the legs weren't responding to the surges or climbs by then.  I saw other guys around me who were producing strong accelerations that there was no way I could match.  Still, I was enjoying it and who knows what's going to happen anyway.

I was about 10th with a mile to go at the bottom of the climb, i.e. at the "beginning" of the race.  There's a slight right hand turn just before the climb when you transition from one road to another.  There's a nasty looking granite curb on the inside of the turn.  This creates a bottleneck/accordion thing which can be dangerous because it is located at the bottom of the crucial climb.  Sure enough, there was a crash somewhere behind me in that corner which I neither saw nor heard.

As we started up the hill the pace really picked up.  As expected I was steadily losing ground here.  By the time we got to the top, I was about 30 back.  By now the die were cast and I passed through the 90 degree turn in about the same position.  I was grinding it out going down the hill when a nasty crash scene suddenly appeared before my eyes about 50 yards up the road.  The road was straight and wide (no yellow line rule approaching the finish) and the guys who crashed seemed to be too far back to be contending.  I have no idea how it went down, but it was one of the bigger crashes I have seen with  bikes and bodies all over the pave.  One guy with nowhere to go rode straight into the pileup at about 30 mph and he and his bike launched about 8 feet in the air.  Amazingly by the time I went around the wreck seconds later, that guy was on his feet, but with a nasty welt on his backside.

I pretty much sat up as soon as I saw the crash and coasted over the line, finishing 31st of about 95 starters.

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