Ok, so brace yourself. This is gonna be a long story.
Day One: On Wednesday, July 2nd, Steven Gordon, ACCC Road Conference Champion (known to some as "Steven Gordon Mountain Bike Racer") drove up from Northern Va and we loaded up my car and headed off for Uxbridge, MA where our host family lived. The 5 hr drive ened up being like 6 or 7 due to the thing I hate most about the Northeast: traffic. We came to a stop on the NJ Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, on the Tapanzee Bridge, and on the interstate in CT. But we got there eventually and started to get everything ready on the TT bikes while we waited for the other 3 guys in our group to get back from preriding the RR course and part of the TT course.
The other 3 were all from the NC State crew: Will "Captain Jack" Stoughton, Nic "Reaper" Reeves (both cat 4's), and John "J Crew" Crow (cat 3). Once they arrived we settled in for an early morning.
Day Two: Thursday came bright and early (between 5 and 6am) as it would for the rest of the week. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the way to the race to get some breakfast.
We saw this a lot. The D is for delicious. After we got the top fuel, we headed on to the site of the first stage, a 6.55 mi mostly upill with a super fast rolling final 2k. The cat 4's were early in the morning and the cat 2's were in the mid afternoon, so we were gonna be there all day.
We exploded the car and set up camp.
Note the pirate flag. Everyone was excited to get the race under way...especially me. I was anxious to see how I would stack up to such a strong cat 3 field. I prepared almost religiously for the TT. Got everything setup way in advance and had everything timed out well as far as getting ready goes. It was by far the smoothest pre-race I have ever had.
I had borrowed a disc and tri spoke from NC State teammate JP Long, so my bike was looking super fly, but due to a snafu I was missing a TT helmet. Fortunately, my friend Matt Barston from UMD had a teammate on CL Noonan/ Coast-to-Coast that was a Junior Cyclocross National Champion and part of the legendary Keough family that had already raced and he let me use his helmet.
So, fully decked out with my superhero edition NC State long sleeve skinsuit, I climbed into the start house and prepared for launch. I pushed hard with solid feeling legs (unfortunately not amaxing feeling). I slowly gained ground on my 30 sec man and just before I passed him at about 2 mi in I looked back and saw the guy who started 30 sec back from me closing in on me. I pushed and passed my 30 sec man before I got passed. I let him get several meters in front of me and then paced off of him hoping I could re-pass him once the road leveled out. I did my best and seemed to stay with him on the climbs and the flats but couldn't match his accelerations when he crested the rises. I kept him within sight until the 2km banner where he disappeared despite me flipping the switch on the afterburners. That man ended up besting me by 1:05 and winning the day. My time was only good enough for 25th but the real acheivement was in my improvement from last year: 1 min 9 sec on sub 20 min TT. I was happy..... even though I lost the competition for Steven's infamous changing kilt/greaserag to Steven by 11 sec. J Crew was right there with me finishing only 5 sec back after dropping his chain. At the end of a long day, we returned to our host house and a fantastic meal prepared by the Hirko's (our host family). As soon as we saw the results for the day posted online we went to sleep. I wonder if anyone else dreamed of glory in the next days RR that night?
To be continued.....