Monday, November 05, 2007

Porky Gulch Classic Stage Race

Year three of the PGC just wrapped up. What a great weekend or racing and hanging out with a bunch of good people.

This race has a special spot in my season as it is the culmination of a few years of ideas and events that I've had a chance to be a part of. I remember about five years ago when we did the very first Story Land Crit, which was put on by Jeremiah Beach and myself (I did the hype, Miah did the timing- so I got to race). That was the same year I put on the very first Rockpile Rampage Cyclocross race up at Great Glen. The course was stupid long and we had six sets of barriers- but it was fun. I think we had 15 people show up. We did Rockpile Rampage V2.0 the next year and after we met with Howie up at GGTOC to discuss the idea of the race being a part of a bigger weekend- and building a stage race- Porky Gulch Classic Stage Race was born.

From there I stepped out of the race director role and now just play the role of an advisor and focus more on the racing side. This year we saw over 40 riders show up, so it's getting a bit more traction and every year we see people showing up saying it's the coolest race of the year- and I can't disagree.

For those who don't know what the format is let me give you a recap- on Saturday the day starts with a TT up the bottem two miles of the Mount Washington Auto Road- in strange twist of fate this was the only bike race on the Auto Road this year- as the four other race dates in the summer had all been cancelled due to crazy weather. After the TT (which also has the racers ride down the road after the climb) we head down to Story Land for a crit that has over 30 corners per lap- and these corners are sharp and some off camber and all have crash zones that leave you realizing that crashing isn't a good option (is it ever?)

Then on Sunday it's cross racing time- with the Rockpile Rampage up at Great Glen.

This year JJ was racing the event for the first time and A1 was making a return trip after a year off. It was good to have all three of us up there and it made for good trash talk and pre event excuse making.

The weather was raw on Saturday as Noel was moving up the Atlantic Coast- but at least it was dry. Warming up was interesting and despite bringing my trainer up I didn't take advantage of that and instead road around wearing a big down parka- I didn't really want to take it off when Eli told me I had 30 seconds till the start.

I went hard from the gun and despite being right of the edge of blowing up felt like I was flying for the first mile of the 1.8 mile course. But once I passed the 1 mile mark I started to really suffer.In pain on the climb
With about a 1/4 mile to go I got caught by another racer and jumped on his wheel to try and find new motivation.
Caught and now chasing
All I can say is that climb hurts- and I was real happy I didn't have to actually go to the top. I did manage to outsprint the guy I was racing- of course it was only a moral victory as he had started a couple minutes behind me so he crushed me in real time.A moral victory?

We then cruised down the road (which is actually kinda freaky) and headed to a small sandwich shop in Jackson to re-load for the afternoon crit. Soon it was time to suit up again and go try and get the mornings junk out of the legs. JJ and I road a bunch of laps to get a feel for the course- which is just crazy technical- over 30 turns per lap. We then jumped in the truck to watch the beginner race. Keep this name in the back of your head- Sean Doherty- and in 5-7 years of so don't be surprised if you hear him tearing up the US or International sceene. He's 13 and just killing it on a bike- here's a shot of him showing the older guys how to go uphill during the crit: Sean Doherty

Sean lead most of the race, but was in the wind the entire time and ended up third in the sprint for the line- against adults. He's fun to watch and a great kid as well.

JJ and I were both glad we didn't have to race Sean, so we suited up and hit the start line. The cannon went off and we were at race pace in no time. A group went off the front pretty fast and I wasn't in that group, and I ended up putting my nose into the wind for a couple laps before finally trying to force someone else to take a pull. In doing that someone attacked out of the group and just made for chaos. That seemed to be the way it was going to be for the day as each time someone would be willing to take a turn in the wind they would do so by first attacking the group.
Sitting in the train

It made for intersting racing, that and the fact I was skipping pedals off the pavement at least once a lap- but none that put me down in the pavement.

With about four laps to go I lost power and my back started to lock up a bit, I dropped off the group and worked with a guy I've known through 24 hour racing- we chased but to no avail, then we saw the leaders coming up from behind and I was looking for a place to safely get the heck out of their way so they could battle it out- what I didn't know was they were on their bell lap- so was putting myself a lap down. In hindsight I should have hammered when I saw them and gotten through the start finish so I could have finished on the lead lap- not that it mattered for places- more of a pride thing. The funny part was I went through start finish still racing and didn't realize that they had finished until I started riding through the leaders who were sitting up- so I still raced my last lap- but it didn't count- oh well.

Sunday turned out to be a great day weather wise. We had an even bigger field because there were people from the weekly series that were lined up as well.The start
It was a cool start and I managed to tag onto the lead group for a minute even with a good bit of rubbing with Dan Doherty (Sean's dad) as we almost went down at the top of the first short climb out of the start and we banged bars pretty hard- but then I bobbled the turn into the first set of barriers and a gap opened. Sean's dad and I about to bang bars
Where the gap opened

I felt good for the first few laps and felt AWESOME going into the fast barriers- flying through that section and making up about 20 yards on people in that section each time. I think the work I've been doing on my dismount and running the left brake as the rear brake makes a major difference- to bad I didn't have legs for the rest of the course!
Where I was fast
With about three to go my back gave out a bit and I had to sit up, I watched Dan roll away and then Marc D'Amour catch and then leave me. I was a bit bummed as I can usually ride away from them, but not this time. It was still fun but this was also the first time in the cross races I've gotten caught by the leaders and finished a lap down- although the way my back felt I wasn't too bummed about not getting the full lap count.

In all an awsome weekend of racing, I ended up 7th overall in the Intermediates and have good room to move up. Add to that the Pats winning last night and it was a damn fine weekend.




Cathy said...

Great job! Mike and I fell in love with this race last year. I remember you now as well - I wondered if your back was bothering when I saw you sitting up a bit in the cross race.

Here's hoping I can sucker in some more women to race with next year!

AK said...

Yes more women next year! BTW Sean is 12...pretty talented huh? You should see him on skis!

bluecolnago said...

great write up and pics from both you and jj. that looks like a super cool event!

chris d said...

Maybe some day I'll make the classic. Certainly sounds like a blast. I spent that weekend coaching at a soccer tournament.