When:  May 31, 2014, 8:10 AM

Where:  Harvard, MA (with the start-finish line right outside the Harvard General Store).

The course:  2 laps of a 10 mile circuit, with about 700′ of climbing per lap.

This is a new race presented by Minuteman Road Club, after the Sterling Road Race was not permitted this year secondary to some reportedly bad cyclist behavior (reminder, don’t litter and don’t pee on stuff).  Minuteman Road Club presented one of my favorite cross races last season (Minuteman Cross), and this looked like a fun, local race.  And local it was.  Looking at the Cat 5 men getting ready, there were definitely some T-shirts, and some number-pinning disasters.  But off they went.  The women had a 3/4 race at 8:10 AM.

At the lineup for the neutral rollout, an MIT rider taught me an awesome trick!  If you lick a shot block and stick it to your top tube, it stays there, and you can pull it off and eat it during the race!  How cool is that?

Photo by Russ Campbell, visit his website!

The neutral rollout was fine, which would be a weird thing to say, if I hadn’t been unlucky enough to have mechanicals on several prior neutral rollouts.  We started racing on a descent, there was some jostling and the field spread out right away.  Going into the first climb, I tried to hang on, but I got dropped by the field immediately.  Crap, need to keep working on that.  For me, the worst part about being dropped is being lonely and bored, which is not conducive to riding your bike fast.  So I powered on, keeping a couple of riders in my view.  Turns out there were some recreational cyclists on the course too, and when I caught 2 men who were not racing (but were riding REALLY NICE AND EXPENSIVE BIKES); they were super encouraging, until I continued on, leaving them behind.  I ultimately caught an NEBC rider who was obviously tired.  So I came up behind her, said hello, introduced myself, and asked if she wanted to ride together for the next 10 miles.  At that point, I felt like I could have pushed on harder, but chose to ride with her rather than continuing by myself.

Photo by Mike McCabe

We traded pulls for the next 10 miles.  Somehow I found myself pulling up most of the hills… slowly.  Interesting.  I figured we’d work together until the end, and then have a little sprint for fun.  About 2 miles from the finish we were passed by the pace car for the men’s Master’s race behind us.  We still had a lot of distance on the front of the field, so we picked up our pace in an effort to get to the finish line without being passed.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  They passed us with about 3/4 of a mile to go, and a few people in their field even shouted encouragement at us.  The last straightaway was a slow climb towards the finish line, and I used whatever I had left to sprint.  Turns out she’s a bit of a sprinter herself, and just beat me to the line.  But in the words of one of my Chicago teammates, “You sprint your face off, no matter where you are.  That’s a rule.”

So, as races go, it wasn’t great, but catching one rider and having someone to work with was a hell of a lot better than a lonely race beating myself up for getting dropped on a small hill.

Photo by Mike McCabe