A tough weekend.
None of the races were particularly suited to my strengths, as I am neither a climber, a time trialist, nor a technical crit racer. But the courses were fun, the scenery new and interesting, and the peloton… deceptively challenging.
Last year, I did pretty well in the Roan Groan RR, escaping the field early on and holding off all but two of the chasers until the finish. But this year was a little different. First, I chose to race in the Masters 30+ (which was combined with the Masters 40+). I’ve been out for a little while with soreness and swelling in my right knee, so I have been tentative about jumping back into the Pro1/2 field.
That’s not to say the Masters races are easier. They’re not. But there are far fewer riders taking unnecessary risks, and the fields are generally smaller.
Unfortunately – though scored separately – it was almost impossible to tell the Masters 30+ from the Masters 40+ racers since the numbering system did not appear to have any rhyme or reason. It made it very difficult to be tactical, and because of that, I made a few miscalculations that cost me a couple of places.
Second, the course for the Masters fields was the “short course” that rolls directly from Elizabethton to the top. (My knee thanked me for avoiding the 57 mile Pro 1/2 race.)
The third and most important difference was that the finish line was at the very top of the mountain – an advertised 1.75 miles of steep climbing beyond last year’s finish.
The weather at the start was cool, almost pleasant (~55º), but at the top, it was windy and downright frigid!
I didn’t have a great ride, and burned up too much energy chasing down the one break that rolled away. I was also a bit tired from Thursday night’s crit (teammate Marc Williams pulled out the victory!). So, when we started the Hors catégorie climb to the finish . . .
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