The recently announced American Cyclingdirt Classics p/b Stan’s NoTubes allowed me the opportunity to head back east and do a little cross racing. I’ve previously raced in North Carolina at the NCGP but that is pretty much the extent of my east coast experience. I was definitely excited to check out the New England scene that I have heard so much about . . . and if were lucky we would even get some mud.
Richie Rich was going to pick me up from the airport, so I checked out flights. Looking at the map it made sense for Richie to pick me up at LaGuardia on his way through from State College. In hindsight, that wasn’t the most efficient plan. I landed at 5pm and it was pretty much bumper to bumper traffic until we were well into Connecticut. The traffic may have been due to the holiday weekend or maybe that’s just how it is trying to get out of New York City on a Friday at 5:00. Lesson learned.
I decided to ride from the hotel to the venue on Saturday, and as I rolled into Roger Williams Park I became even more excited about the weekend of racing. The course was a beautiful layout with some short punchy climbs, some tight technical turns and some all out power sections. The rain that was promised had not shown up yet, so the ground was dry and dusty in spots but the traction looked good for the Kenda Kommandos. After doing some course recon and going through my normal warmup routine, I was feeling good and ready to race. Based on last season’s points I was on the fourth row. I lined up on the left side and got a great start. I was probably in the top 15 coming through the pits on the first lap. I knew right away though, that my legs weren’t very responsive. I kept thinking I could ride myself into the race, but as the laps slowly ticket by I consistently went backward through the pack. I was actually surprised to finish in the top 30. Video from day 1
After the race there was a lot of analyzing going on, mostly on my part. Was I really that far off of form? Was it the travel, or all the racing from last weekend? Frustrating to say the least. Ultimately, I had no excuses, but after a few words of encouragement from Richie and Yogi I went into Sunday’s race with a renewed sense of confidence. Also, the rain was on its way. Bonus!
As the women began staging the rain started coming down. Not a downpour, just a nice consistent shower. The course was changing by the second. The lines through the corners were now wherever there was grass, and the off camber sections became as slick and greasy. Again I lined up on the left side and again had a good start, probably top 20 coming through the Fi’zi:k off camber section. I could immediately tell two things. One, my legs showed up today, and two, the Kenda Kwickers were 2 levels above anything the other guys were running. Areas where guys were sliding or spinning out, I was hooking up. I got in with Yannick and Tristan and was riding with them for the first half of the race. Jaime Driscoll made contact with about 2 1/2 laps to go. I ended up finishing 9th. Psyched! To be in New England and pull off a top 10 with that field was very confidence inspiring. The disc brakes were impressive to say the least. Combined with the superb traction of the Kwickers it was a good recipe for success. Video from day #2
The gem of the weekend was as we were headed back to the airport on Sunday night, we decided to stop off in New Haven, CT for dinner. Richie and I were both looking for some seafood. Thanks to the trusty iPhone we found a place that looked promising. As we were walking in, they informed us that they were closed for the night. We stumbled across the street to another Italian place that was still serving, Tony & Lucille’s Little Italy Restaurant. It’s a family owned place and even though they were about to close too, they cooked up a huge seafood pasta dish that was amazing.
So, if you ever find yourself on 95 cruising through New Haven stop in and check it out. You’ll be glad you did. Thanks to Richie Rich and the NoTubes crew for all the help all weekend long. Bucket washing in the pits, and I had a fresh bike every 1/2 lap if I needed it. You guys killed it!