The W&M road race was the third race weekend for the ACCC, who have the privilege of nice enough weather through February to start almost a full month ahead of the snow-covered ECCC. This is to say that they've been logging real miles and are already in racing shape, while we've been slogging away on our trainers indoors. The race was a lollipop circuit course with gently rolling terrain, country roads, an uphill finish, and the only relief from the harsh wind to be found on the two minor climbs. Also in attendance were two Drexel C men and one D, two Penn State C men, and two CMU B men. Despite this clear disadvantage in preparation, the ECCC racers represented and all pulled in some impressive results!
For the Yale Bulldogs, Adele raced her first ever road race in the Women's C field. In the ACCC, WC is combined with women's B, which is perfect for a very high fitness C racer like Adele who could take lessons from the WB racers. Adele, instead of getting nervous, did what a true Yalie would do when facing the unknown. She did her homework. She found out from experienced racers exactly where she should be and when, and what she needed to do before her race: show up early, get through registration, pin numbers, kit up, warm up, scout the course and finishing line, find the staging area, relax, eat a snack, scope out the competition, enjoy the sunshine! Check out her blog post where she shares everything she learned in her first race - nobody could have said it better!
The Women's B/C race rolled out nice and easy, and Adele, studious as ever, took those miles in a crash course (not literally, thankfully!) in group dynamics in road racing. The only hiccup of the race was when the marshals asked the whole women's group to pull over and let the guys' peloton fly by. Safety first. She managed to stay among the top 10 riders in the pack for most of the race, and was ready to go when the pace picked up in the second lap. The group pushed it for the last mile back into the park, with Adele taking a long hard pull at the front and causing the sprinters some real pain before the finish line. She crossed the finish line in 6th place, feeling every bit of her hard work during the race, and went away with a big smile.
Next up, Travis raced in the Women's 123 field for his non-collegiate team with one of our shop sponsors, Devils Gear. The field was combined with collegiate Women's A, stacked with category 1 racers, and essentially a who's who of the top finishers of last year's road nationals. The ACCC is notably well populated with elite women's racers, allowing for a stand alone A field.
After testing the waters in the opening miles, Travis asserted himself in the front five wheels as the field began to pick up the pace and string itself out over gently rolling terrain. After a half-hearted breakaway attempt (or, non-attempt?) gapped the field by only a few meters before being brought back, what would be the decisive break leapt at the second climb at about mile 14, and managed to stay away and increase the lead to over 2 minutes by the finish, despite the relentless wind, relatively flat and scorchingly fast course, and high caliber field chasing. Not to be shaken by each other's rapid-fire attacks and careful waiting and watching in the cat and mouse game of the last four miles, the breakaway group stuck together through the final stretch for a field sprint up the finishing climb. Travis finished a solid 2nd place to Laura Cook (Velocita, formerly of Vanderkitten), in a promising start to the season!
For both Bulldogs it was a weekend of firsts: a first race, and a first race in the women's elite field. Both Yalies learned how to navigate their new fields, what work they have left to do to up their game, and how and where to dig deeper next time. It will be an exciting season for the Bulldogs in the women's fields to be sure!
In other news, Drexel and Penn State formed an ECCC alliance in the Men's C field, with Penn State leading out a Drexel rider to take the win. The Drexel rider then apparently attempted a bow and arrow victory salute and crashed just over the finish line. We admire your style, Drexel, and we will remember to keep a safe distance in March.