Sunday, March 23, 2008

Toeing the line...

I originally started this silly blog thing to report on bike races as a sideline to my race announcing work. Since there weren't any races in New England for the first few months of the blog's existence, it being the off-season, I posted a few times on bike related themes. Here is the first actual race report:

Last Saturday at Charge Pond in the Myles Standish State Forest in Plymouth (if you are a bike racer in New England, you've gotten lost there) about 23 riders braved the snow/sleet/rain mix. It seems this has recently become known as the "wintry mix" in weather parlance. We used to just call it "crappy weather for riding". Since 20 of the riders were "Bs" and only 3 were "As", the A Race was cancelled. I was home snug in bed for that one so I didn't catch the name of the winner of the Bs.

Today's race was held under much better conditions. Sunny and temps in the high 40's ain't bad for March. Race promoter Bill Sykes has a history of successfully planning races to avoid major weather events (jinx!!). He once held the Silver City Flier on the one clear day in between two successive hurricanes. I don't remember the names of the storms now, but you can look it up, it was August three or four years ago.

About 100 riders showed up for the two races today, almost evenly split between the As and Bs. I had some chores to attend to in the morning so I missed the B Race. The A race went about as follows:

After some early attacks that amounted to little, a break of 8 formed at about the half way point of the 1.5 hour race. This sounded to me like kind of a long race for an early season training race, but no one seemed to mind. The break included young Emerson Oronte of the CLNoonan/Coast to Coast team, riders from the Corner Cycle squad, CCB, and the new Team Fuji including Frank McCormack. Several laps later, Johnny Bold and Mark McCormack decided to put their time trialing skills to the test and bridged the gap of almost 2 minutes from the field to the lead group. Once their additional power was added to the lead group, there was no stopping the breakaway.

Shortly thereafter, another group took off from the main bunch in search of the lead group or at least in search of a slightly harder pace than the remaining field felt like doing so early in the season. This group of about 6 included Plymouth local John Stonebarger and a host of others from the local teams.

The lead group caught up to the back of the field with about 7 laps to go and most of the break made their way to the front of the field quickly. This left more than 40 riders together to contest the field sprint although only ten or so were actually on the lead lap. Since the final sprint occurs off the main circuit of the race, there was no effective way of separating the members of the break from the field. They all got the bell together.

Mark McCormack, who retired from professional bike racing two seasons ago, lead the field in to the sprint from several hundred yards out and held on to win for the Fuji sponsored masters racing team that he has put together with his brother, former professional Frank McCormack.

Next week is the first "real" race of the 2008 season in Marblehead, Mass. There is also another race at Charge Pond, week three of four in the series. The Boston Road Club Sunday races have started at Wells Ave also.

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