words by John Burkhardt
On Saturday Sean Griffing, Jay Robbins and I drove out together for the Quabbin Road Race. Jay and I did the 3/4 race and Sean did the cat 5 race as his first ever bike race, a ambitious start to racing! And for me, this was my first road race in over 10 years so I was plenty nervous and excited.
The course is a 65 mile loop around the Quabbin reservoir with a few decent climbs (about 4500 ft total). Sat was a beautiful clear day, though a bit cold (35-40) and windy at the start. Our field had 108 people pre-registered and we saw several people signing in day-of so we ended up with a pretty good size group.
The race started out from the park at the top of a hill and had a neutral start down to route 9. My bike was super wobbly going down the hill and I was worried that maybe one of my wheels was messed up. Nope, I just had my knees clamped to the top tube and I was shivering uncontrollably. Once we got moving though I was comfortable most of the time.
At mile 5 or so a guy jumped off the front and took off. I didn’t even realize it until I saw several of his teammates (CLR team) dominating the front and keeping the pace pretty tame. There were a few surges here and there, especially going up hill. At one point I moved up on a climb and popped off the front. Apparently I had a few hundred yards and Jay later told me I should have just gone for it. I’m not sure I could have survived another 30+ miles on my own and I ended up sitting up pretty quickly.
There was one other significant break attempt and I went with it, sitting at around 6th wheel but we didn’t get far. I think the pack was too well rested and everyone was
kind of waiting for some action.
At times we seemed to be going so slowly that I thought we might just pull over and have a nap. Somehow we did finally reel in that [CLR] guy who took off so early, I think we caught him at around mile 50. I expected a counter attack but everyone
just hung together.
In a large group there are always knucklheads and we had our fair share. On some of the smaller roads where there was no actual yellow line, several guys would get in the left lane and the pack would swell, only to have to smush back together when everyone started yelling “car up”. I hate stuff like that. It is cheating.
I would guess there were 60-70 of us all together at the finish. Going in towards the park there is one minor climb on route 9 and at that point Jay told me to move up and he slingshot me up about 10 places. I moved into fourth wheel on the turn into the park and started the final climb to the finish. The road ticks up a bit, then levels off for a while and at that point a large swarm surrounded me and I lost key position.
I think I was expecting a lot more up hill to come so when we got to the final kick I thought we had a lot further to go and I was preparing myself for a strong climb finish but then – whoops -there is the 200m sign. I started to jump and then the guy in front of me came out of his pedal and stopped dead in his tracks. Got around
him and almost fell into the giant wheel eating pot hole that I had jumped over on the way down three hours earlier. Sprinted to the line and by now there were easily 20 guys in front of me. Jay was right there too maybe one or two spots behind me. I was happy to finish toward the front of the pack and especially to be back in the game.
I definitely have the bug again and can’t wait to get to my next race.
[Update: results were just posted and I came in at 23rd with Jay right behind me for 24th! And it looks like there were 65 together guys at the finish.]