Race Report: ECCC Delaware Weekend

Road race: 7/41 at 3m10s behind. 40 pts.
ITT: 34/34 at 15:59.99. (Should be 2/34 at 11:22.00 and 70 pts.)
Criterium: 4/30, 53 pts.

A six-hour drive from MIT brought us to beautiful Delaware, featuring milder temperatures than we have in the Northeast. The weather was beautiful all weekend, with sun, calm winds, and temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Many thanks to our gracious hosts, Senator and Mrs. Carper (!).

Saturday’s 68 mile road race was my first Men’s A race. I did not know what to expect from this stronger, more experienced field. Would attacks stick? Would the field counter-attack? Expecting the field to work harder than a B field, I allowed the race-winning breaks to leave early. About halfway through, when it seemed that the pack was soft-pedaling, I attacked. Just as I caught one of the chase groups, a Maryland state police officer almost killed us! Apparently, he didn’t know that there was a bicycle race going on, and, less than impressed by our aggressive, race-style riding, tried to run us off the road. I left the chase group, and rode solo for 90 minutes. I never caught the race leaders, but the pack never caught me. My 7th place finish tells me that I still have a few things to learn about racing.

The Individual Time Trial on Sunday morning should have been my shining moment, but instead, it was a disaster. A HED disc wheel that I purchased through Craigslist, broke, and apparently unsuccessfully repaired, failed at the start. The hub delaminated from the wheel, again, making it impossible to ride. I learned two important lessons. One, always pre-ride race equipment. I did not have a chance to do a proper warm-up. Two, I found out about USAC rule 3E5(b) the hard way: “The rider shall be held by an official at the start, but shall neither be restrained nor pushed. No restarts are permitted.” I was not given a restart for my wheel mishap. My time on the course was 11m22s. This would have put me in second place, and with a disc and proper warmup, I could have beaten Lipka for first. Damnit! At least the wind tunnel folks can use a broken disc wheel.

“Men’s A Criterium” is a scary string of words. The Delaware course, 0.5mi long, featured a tighter-than-90-degree bend at the bottom of a steep hill, and an uphill finish. Numerous crashes and delays caused our race to start 3 hours late. At our start, the guy in front of me failed to clip in, causing me to have yet another bad start. The race winning solo attacks took off early. Whenever I attacked, UVM countered and blocked. Taking control, I sat at the front of the pack, sat on the climbs, cornered hard, sprinted early up the hill, and took fourth. I’m a marked man now.

This was a great weekend, and I’m looking forward to Philly. I just hope I can find a disc in time!