Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Gateway Circuit Race 3/13/2016

by Michael Landry, with pictures by Andy Barentine and Michael Landry

As the sun rose behind heavy gray clouds over the eerily deserted corporate park that was to be the site of Sunday's races, Michael Moore-Jones and Andy Barentine rolled to the line to race with the Category D Men. Andy churned the pedals relentlessly at the front in the early going, carving grimaces into the faces of many in the strung-out field. Michael M-J was also an animator, attempting a couple breakaways that did not succeed. Both of them put in numerous turns at the front attempting to whittle down the field, but a group of 12 riders entered the final lap together.

Our D Men before their start.
Ultimately Andy paid for his early efforts and lost contact with the leaders on the final climb heading into the sprint, coming home with a mid-pack finish. Andy says his pre-race anxiety gave way to post-race excitement, and "can't wait to race again." Moore-Jones secured 3rd place in a fiercely contested sprint after leading the pack for the final half-lap, but thinks he could have improved on that placing by meting his efforts out more conservatively.

Next was Liz Eldridge in her first race ever with the Category C Women. Liz rode like a seasoned pro, and gapped her field with ease to snag a win for the Bulldogs, our third of the weekend.

Liz, preparing to decimate the field.
In the Category C Men race, Michael Landry stayed tucked in the 25-man peloton. He attacked the field with 500 meters to go on the final uphill, but was caught and passed by the eventual winner from Shippensburg on the level finishing straight. Landry was able to salvage second place with a bike throw, but ruefully tells us he "went too early." Unfortunately, he was later relegated to 3rd place for taking a water bottle hand-up from a spectating teammate. 

The final competitors of the day were the Category A Men, and our Captain, Mike Grome, had a tough race ahead of him. The field was stacked with several pros and semipros, and a deep Virginia Tech team was hoping to leverage their numbers to secure the win. Additionally the dark clouds, which had been threatening all day, finally opened up and proceeded to release their watery payload upon the riders starting around mile 5 and continuing through the finish. Combined with dropping temperatures and an average speed of 40+ kph, the meteorological misfortune reduced even the hardest in the field to shivering post-race wrecks.

Mike Grome charging.
Virginia Tech sent their strongest man off the front early as the rest of their team ran interference, doing their best to stymie any attempt by the peloton to organize and chase the leader down. Mike was a part of numerous breakaways, all of which were reeled in by the boys in orange from VT.  The leader succeeded in staying away to the line and took a well-earned victory, while some 40 seconds in arrears Mike mustered a mid-pack finish in the field sprint. 

After the moist and hypothermic affair, the Columbia team treated our racers to pizza at the local Whole Paycheck. We all excitedly relived the weekend's races before starting the convoy back to New Haven. Next weekend the ECCC season starts up with the Philly Phlyer, and with our solid preseason results we will be entering the fray with confidence and know-how.

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