Saturday morning. It’s dark except for the street lights, the lights on the few cars running at 5:30 AM, and the occasional camera flash of an annoying club cycling secretary. The day slowly became lighter – but not warmer, as the sun remained muffled behind the expanse of large grey clouds – an ominous sign for the events of the day ahead.
Team Time Trial
It’s light out but there is a great sense of foreboding amongst the racers in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. The people racing later in the day are rapidly pressing “refresh” on their weather.com hourly weather forecast, with an increasing fear of what the elements were going to bring.
The temperature drops from 45 °F to a frigid 37 °F. Knee warmers are cast aside for leg warmers or tights. Caps are worn underneath aero helmets to preserve some warmth. Still, the team time trial went on without incident. Collegiate racers felt great jealousy towards the non-collegiate racers with their TT bikes and rear disc wheels, both of which are not permitted in collegiate races.
Our (men’s A) team trial effort went pretty terribly as we lost our 4th rider in a matter of minutes and I struggled to maintain the desired pace in the last 4 miles. This is only to be expected with no organization beforehand. MIT predictably won both the men’s and women’s A events.
“I really can’t stay; but baby it’s cold outside”
Snow begins to fall. Cyclists reconsider why they got out of bed this morning to go to a bike race when they could have been partaking in pre-St. Patty’s Day festivities. A combined men’s D field splintered like a broom handle being held up in the air in the middle of a field by an unfortunate soul in a lightning storm. Colin Delaney of some-college-I’ve-never-heard-of won this race. Samantha Summers (Penn State) won her second circuit race in a row in the women’s C race, outsprinting Marisa Rorabaugh (UVM) ahead of a field that was shattered like a chandelier cast down onto a mahogany dinner table situated directly below by communists.
Lenore Pipes (Cornell) won the women’s A race ahead of a reduced peloton that included last year’s ECCC omnium champion Katie Quinn (MIT).
Sean McIntyre (Penn State) won his second men’s C circuit race on a solo break. Men’s C racers anticipate the day when he finally gets his 10 mass start finishes and moves up to B. Speaking of men’s B, Cameron McPhaden trounced that field in the sprint, finishing with plenty of time to cast an obnoxious victory salute, no doubt emphasizing the superiority of Canada compared with the U.S. and their ability to cope with the rapidly deteriorating conditions.
By this point, the weather was shifting from rain to sleet to snow to hail to nothing in rapid succession. The men’s B race had been shortened to attempt to get the men’s A and P/1/2/3 races under way. We went off in pretty awful conditions. The roads were slick and the elements from up above ensured that we were soaked within a few minutes of beginning the race. I was off the back after 4 minutes due to taking the descent cautiously and had to chase really hard with a Penn State rider before I regained contact right before the middle climb on course. I stayed in contact over the climb but was tailed off with a bunch of riders again on the descent.
We worked together and made contact with the main peloton just before the climb to the finish, but by this point I was spent and was dropped. A few in the field quit the race after the first lap but I continued on, working occasionally with a couple other riders. I started to lose feeling in my hands and the hail was pelting my exposed face terribly hard coming down the descent at over 30 mph.
I decided that I would quit after this lap was over. As I was coming up to the final mile, a woman yelled at me that I should take the corners easy as a lot of riders were crashing. I took the first corner really easy but then, on the penultimate corner, I took it a little faster and slid out. As I got up, I realized the ground was covered in a layer of slush and that’s why I crashed. I put the chain back on and rolled through the finish only to find out that they had just cancelled the race due to the terrible conditions. I got out of the wet clothes as soon as possible, heated up in the truck, and got the hell out of there.
The story of the day was of the immense droppage going on in all the categories. This didn’t bode too well for me or my parents who drove up 3.5 hours to see me!
I didn’t think to much about that though and resolved to do my best to try and get a result. The race started pretty fast, but after I had hung on for about 20 minutes, I was able to move up pretty well through the back half of the field. I continued trying to conserve energy and not staying at the back, but quite a few times I was off the back having the chase. But with 20 minutes left in the race, I figured that I might actually be able to do something in the finish.
I tried moving up regularly, but with about 4 laps to go I was at the back again and the race just went bonkers at that point. For most of the people at the back, it was all about survival. I ended up going way over my limit and was dropped with just 2.5 laps to go. I tried to keep the pace up but finished a couple minutes behind the field.
Robin Carpenter was finally beaten, with Julian Georg (Syracuse) taking the win. You can see my Strava file from this race here.
I’m taking the week off from the ECCC this week, as I’m not driving 8 hours to do a 1 hour criterium by myself (it is the start of UD’s spring break so the team won’t be going). I might go down to the ACCC to do the Navy weekend but I might have missed the registration deadline so I don’t know about that either.