Monday, March 26, 2018

2018 Road Series: Mansfield Madness (3/24-3/25)

This weekend, the team took the long drive to UConn for the ECCC race. A long drive north was thankfully split into two parts, before and after Village Pizza, a nice pizzeria just inside the NY state line.
            With the first race for the team being the Men’s C race at 10:00 am and the course only being 6 minutes from the hotel, we had the pleasure of sleeping in later than usual on Saturday morning. The Men’s C race with Matt McGauley and Andrew Schlicht went off and was followed 5 minutes later by the Men’s D race with Adam Workineh. The racecourse was a 10.1-mile loop, which consisted of a primarily downhill beginning, and an inclined climb to the finishing stretch. Nice roads led the riders into the woods, past farmland, and through a nice small New England town. Matty McG placed himself firmly within the pack, while Schlichty chilled near the back. Half way through the final lap, Schlichty made a strong effort to the front where he was able to pull the peloton behind him and catch a rider that had created a gap between themselves and the field. Unfortunately, this effort left nothing in the legs for Schlichty to finish the race with, causing him to lose contact with the field minutes from the finish line. Matty McG played it smart and kept his composure during his teammates move to the front, allowing him to finish well near the front of the remaining pack.
Adam on the front line of the Men's D race
            For Adam in the Men’s D race, it was a slightly different story. Two crashes near the beginning of the race started to raise concerns for his safety. A scattered and disorganized pack was part of the reasons why there were crashes. This consequently made it difficult for Adam to progress to the front and maintain pace with what field there was.
Eli and Papa K before the Men's B race
            The last race of the day was the Men’s B race, featuring Eli Bravo. Distracted by his teammates at the start line, he missed the jump on the whistle and had to fumble out of his warm-up clothes and make his way to the pack. Sometime later, the feed crew left for the feed zone to provide water, Pop-tarts, and anything else Eli might want. Along the way, this crew crossed paths with an Eli out the back of the field and threw a handful of team favorite Twizzlers at him.  Turns out Eli lost the pack after an attack halfway through the first lap and consequently decided to pull himself from the race and stop at the feed zone to pick up the bottles Schlichty had disposed of earlier in the Men’s C race.
            Before calling it a day, the team returned to the hotel, and in search of food went to about 8 different restaurants and bars before finding one that could feed the increasingly starved college students. We wrapped up the day with a trip to the hot tub at the hotel and settled in bed for an early wake up the next day.
Next was Sunday Funday. UConn had a special treat for the racers. Instead of a crit held on a set of closed roads, we had the opportunity to race on the Stafford Spring Speedway, a NASCAR racecourse. Super cool.
First up was Adam in the Men’s D race. From the very beginning, people gunned it. The gentle snowfall was in sharp contrast with the heated racecourse full of attacks and sprints. This would not be an easy race. Adam worked hard to maneuver his way to the front and aid in controlling the pace, but the confusing peloton dynamics ultimately resulted in Adam losing slots and losing contact with the pack.
As much of a pleasure it was to race this 800 meter dead flat course, the resulting pattern riders followed was very peculiar. From the start-finish line, there was a gradual chicane (R-L-R), after which, those on the outside of the pack would be launched from the embanked turn, protected from the cross-wind by the peloton, one could soft-pedal their way to the front. However, upon reaching the second turn into the final stretch, the field would often make up the lost positions. If you weren’t paying attention, you could be in the front, and then shuttled to the back within a lap, even if you were full gassing it.
Matty McG in the Crit
Schlichty followed by Matty McG in the Crit

With the sun remaining shy, hiding behind the clouds, the Men’s C race for Matty McG and Schlichty started. Once again, the weird racing system persisted. A bit of bumper bikes near the beginning resulted in a single rider going down. However, the field played it cool for the remainder of the race. Army worked to control the front of the field and champion the primes, however, the other competitors would not permit that to happen. With only a few riders having dropped out the back and no breakaways that stuck due to the high winds, it would be a bunch sprint at the finish. Matty McG and Schlichty each finished comfortably within the peloton.
Eli in the Crit
 Having forced himself to eat a Whoopee Pie out of spite for his Team President Saturday evening, Eli’s performance in the Crit was surprisingly ok. The Men’s B field had an interesting start; with a Penn State solo break away lasting the entire race. Only aided by two other riders that would later independently bridge the growing gap. Eli relaxed in the back of the pack waiting to make a move. In the final few laps, he progressed towards the front and finished with the pack.
A quick shout out to the UConn rider with neon-green arm warmers in the C field for pointing out the potholes, movements of the pack, and turns when others weren’t, this helps out a brother greatly.
This weekend was also made a much greater joy by alumnus Steven Robare joining the team. Bringing food, aiding in the team's efforts to set up, and providing advice from an experienced 4-year racer, his presence was greatly appreciated.

This race also saw the return of some old fashioned hi-jinks




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