I'm building myself back up now and more than anything need to get in as much quality volume riding as possible. As I drove the hour and a half out to Ware, MA on Saturday for the Quabbin RR I was debating which category to enter. I rarely race the masters, mostly because the distances are shorter and fields can be smaller but at Quabbin all of the races covered the same 64 hilly miles and at registration I saw the masters had 125 guys which was the largest field. The first person I saw in line for registration was my friend Dzmitry Buben. Dzmitry is a former Soviet Olympic Team Pursuiter and won the masters world TT two years ago. He's as hard as they get and climbs like a bird. I saw a bunch of other quality riders lining up too like Kevin Hines, Jeff Fisher, a strong Keltic team and a bunch of other top guys from NJ, NY, CT, ME, NH and MA so I knew the masters would be a meaningful race.
Even so I still debated doing the Pro1-2 but since I really wanted to have two days of solid racing/training I thought the P1-2 could leave me a little too flat to be good on Sunday so I made the decision to do the masters.
Although I've never raced Quabbin I have ridden the roads out there and am familiar with their vert. Most of my friends have raced it too so I've heard enough to be comfortable knowing what to expect and what to do. My strategy was a simple; 1) stay in the top 5-10% on the climbs 2) cruise everything else inside the pack 3) eat at halfway and again with 10 clicks/km out. My 190 lbs burn calories like a coal locomotive especially going up hill and the climbs around Quabbin just keep coming so I have to really pay attention to calorie intake. I think the course had something like twenty or more clmbs, each one scrubbing off a little more edge but none of the hills matter as much as the last steep on the finishing stretch. The closing 3km is uphill all the way and tricky to gauge with the toughest steep section about 700 meters out and I was mindful not to enter this section on empty. I thought if I could hit it all of it right Id be in good position for a result.
The race itself played like this. Keltic controlled it! They rolled tempo early and made it aggressive, launching attacks the entire second half of the race. With about 6k left they had worn out all the other teams to where none had any ammo left and then launched Anthony Felitte over a windy crest and no one chased. Anthony hammered strong & got out of sight quickly and rather easily. I was actually feeling good but to chase solo would have been stupid so I just surfed patiently in the top 10 guys reading for moves and wheels. I followed a couple of late surges over the last 3k and as we rolled up into the steep at about 700 meters I pressed a little bit because I was anticipating an attack and wanted to have momentum to jump on it but it never came. I noticed that my surge had separated me a couple of bike lengths from the front to the group so I pressed a little more and saw the gap growing and also saw that Anthony in sight. Once I saw him I gassed it 100% and rode away from the group and closed to within 10-15 seconds (guessing) of Anthony and crossed the finish line in second place. The last 200 meters felt like 400. I damn near fell off my bike after crossing the line having left everything on the slope, which is how should be.
Peace and roll strong.