Last weekend was the Sterling Road Race. Team Quad was well represented with racers present in both Cat 5 fields, the Cat 4 field and the Cat 3 field. We have reports from the Cat 4 field as well as one of the Cat 5 fields.
Cat 5 Under 35, Will Matlack
I raced in the under 35 Cat 5 race because I didn’t register in time to get into the 35+ race [I am well north of 35]. The Cat 5 races were 3 laps, 24 miles total.
The first lap was all together and a very nervous pack. Two guys almost went down a couple of bikes over from me, but thankfully no crashes. Up the steep climb the first time was not too bad, but after that the pace went up a good deal. The pack got strung out but was more or less together. Up the rollers was almost full gas for me but I was in there. Then up one of the hills a guy in front of me broke his chain. He had to come right across my line to get to the side and I almost stopped to hold my line and get by him safely. Didn’t help but worse luck for him. Then through town and onto the steep climb into the final lap. This was the selection and guys were off the front. I was just hitting it as hard as I could up the climb. At the top I was cooked and just tried to hang on to the guys around me. Pretty soon it was clear that the first group was pretty far up the road but there was a second group behind them. Two or three guys around me got together and we started working to catch the second group. I managed to recover a bit and take my pulls. We caught the second group by the bottom of the last decent. That groups was about 10 guys and we worked together fairly well. One or two of the guys up ahead came back, but the lead pack was way too far ahead and no doubt stronger anyway. I tried to stay near the front of the second group as we got closer to final climb. Sprinted up the final climb with what I had left and finished in the middle of my group, 15th overall.
Cat 4, Jeremy Katz
In the Cat 4 race, we had three people lining up — myself, John Buchheit and Brian Housman. Our plan was mostly to watch and see what happened and get into the break if one formed. The neutral start was pretty civil… ninety guys out on a big group ride where we could take the full lane. Then we crossed the start/finish and things picked up a little, but still mostly stayed together. I hung out mid-pack with a bit of bobbing back and forth as we went around the course… the little rollers making me slowly slide back through the pack but then working my way closer to the front on the flatter back stretch and into the big hill. There was one point on the flat stretch on the third lap where something happened at the front of the pack leading to a bunch of movement and me fighting a bit to stay upright with handlebars and shoulders touching; unfortunately I think that was where things unraveled a little for me. Since it was only my second race of the season and I only did one road race last season, I’m just don’t have the comfort level I’d like right now for pack riding and the close call made me slightly skittish. So I started giving a little bit more space where I shouldn’t and working a little harder. Managed to stick with it, but it definitely cost me a little. Then on the final lap, I got the cramp you never want to get in a race. My quads locked up and I struggled to keep pedaling and stay upright, much less keep up with the pack at over 20mph. I dropped back and quickly took in some food and water. But it was too late as I wasn’t able to make up the distance to the pack, lost in no man’s land for the rest of the race. I finished, but several minutes back from the group I had been with. John managed to hold on, though, and picked up 20th place.