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Mountain-top Crit and Tour de Hempfield

Date: 2002-03-16
By: Joe K

Long story short, here's the numbers from the two racesput on by Lehigh Univ. and the Univ. of Vermont thisweekend:

  • Saturday 3/16 - Lehigh University Mountaintop Crit (30 starters)
    • 6th Joe Kopena
    • 24th Mike Castellan
  • Sunday 3/17 - University of Vermont Circuit Race (25 starters)
    • 12th Joe Kopena
    • 21st Mike Castellan

Full results are available at [1] and [2]. Long story longer:


This weekend sucked in almost every way imaginable. It only could have gotten worse if we'd crashed either in the car or on our bikes or had ended up in jail somehow...

Funniest thing about this weekend was the hawk at the Lehigh race. The race was up on top of this mountain with woods all around and somewhere there was a hawking making all sorts of noise. Everytime the Iceman said something the thing would give out a piercing cry and was really buggin' the hell out of him. He said it even did it during the race and kept bugging him up the hill. The hawk's my hero of the weekend.


We set a new team record for U-turns, which I expect to never be beaten by anybody (I sure hope not, anyway). Eleven turnarounds, far above the old record. We made almost every possible wrong turn. We ended up doing about twice the number of miles we had to do. Total suckage. We spent all day Saturday wandering around Pennsylvania in the Iceman's Civic. The high point was where the Iceman gave up (quite understandably so) and we just rode around a traffic circle for a while. Doing that seemed better than getting off on the wrong road, which we eventually managed to do anyway.

Some of this wasn't our fault. For example, we did not appreciate the directions on the race flyer saying "Go west" when what they really meant to say was "Go east." Clearly no one at Lehigh comes from Philadelphia. Worse, all the subsequent directions were slightly off---should turn right when they say go straight, etc. Total suckage. By the time we got to the hotel Saturday night we were within a couple minutes of just giving up and coming back to Philadelphia, in all seriousness.


There hasn't been a race put on at Lehigh's campus at least since I came to school, so the course was a bit of a surprise. It was about a mile long around a conference center they have on the top of a nearby mountain. It had a swooping, fast downhill followed by a steepish uphill climb and slight level area onto the downhill, on which the finish line was placed. We didn't expect the hill at all; it helped me out but pretty much screwed the Iceman over.

When we hit the hill the first time a guy from Boston U. and I just kinda charged up it to spread the pack out. Four guys hung on and the race was basically decided right then as we held our distance the rest of the race, taking turns pulling the lead.

Around the finish line there were a lot of spectators and a ton of cowbells. This meant you couldn't hear the official bell, it was totally indistinguishable from the other bells going off each lap. I didn't care much about it for the primes, but it did mean we didn't know when there was one lap left in the race. At some point we did hear a clearly official bell, figured it had to be the end of the race, and took off. The guy from Boston and I smacked down the other guys on the hill then sprinted down the backside to the line. I think he beat me by just under the width of a tire with a fairly well done sprint toss at the end. Sadly, none of that mattered because as we learned our race had actually ended several laps earlier and we just didn't know. The bell we actually raced for marked the end of the C race going on at the same time. When our race ended I had been just sort of taking my turn at the back of our group having just taken my pull, so I got screwed pretty good on Saturday.

Sunday's race was the traditional UVM crit in the golf course. It's a pretty good course, except two of the corners shake me a little---what with the holes and gravel surrounding and occupying the good line through. The Iceman's got some good stories about the guys he ended up riding with just flying off into the bushes around these corners. It's pretty easy to do that here, for some reason, and pretty scary if you end up riding the gravel. Don't ask how I know... The course also has a little bit of a hill that's deceptively difficult and really sticks it to most people.

The Boston guy and I did the same thing this time, charging up the hill on the first lap with three guys hanging on this time. We kept rolling around like this until a couple laps later there's a bell for a prime. When I got to the top of the hill that lap I looked back and realized nobody was within ten seconds of me. Right there I made a mistake. I should have just sat up, waited, ignored the prime, and gone for the overall win. Stupidly, I decided to make a break for the prime. It's not like it matters---the only prize is team points and we're so small as to have an impossibly slim chance of breaking the top ten of the rankings as the season goes on anyway. But, I decided to go for it. I got caught right at the finish line and lost the prime anyway. The Boston guy thought I was going to make a break right then for the whole thing and organized the other three into a reasonably well done line that I just couldn't beat through the wind down the backside and up to the line. I was so beat from trying to do so and they were still working it well enough that I just couldn't keep up for much longer and eventually just fell back through the ranks. Pretty upsetting since this is one of the few races to give up hardware for placing. Oh well. At least we found our way home from the race without difficulties.


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