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Maryland & Navy

Date: 2002-03-30
By: Joe K

It doesn't look like they're posting results from these races so I apologize for the estimates. These are from this weekend's action:

  •   Saturday 3/30 --- Naval Academy Crit (~40 entrants)
    • Mike Castellan - mid to high 20s
    • Joe Kopena - DNF, mechanical
  • Sunday 3/30 --- Univ. of Maryland Circut Race (~35 entrants)
    • Joe Kopena - 8th
    • Mike Castellan - high teens to low 20s

The Navy crit was awesome. The course features two tight 180 degree corners. One's at the bottom of a small but quick hill, pretty narrow, has a drainage ditch running through it. Sitting in the middle of a graveyard, they appropriately label it on the course map as "The Widowmaker." The course is hard because you effectively end up sprinting out of these two corners for 25 laps and it relies a lot on you being able to take this weird corner fast enough to not lose ground but slow enough to not wipe out.

Unfortunately, my wheel fell out of the dropout with five laps to go. Coming down the straightaway, all of a sudden I'm a couple inches in the air and my rear's coming around sideways. Luckily it just landed and I coasted in to the side. At first I thought the chain had skipped, which didn't surprise me because it was a new wheel I had just assembled the night before (always a mistake). But, as I sat there in the grass mad because I had just missed the free lap period, the Iceman's dad came over and said "Hey, look at this!" and started pushing my wheel in and out of the dropout... Still not sure about that one, but we think I just didn't tighten the quick release enough with the new skewer design.

Still, it was a good race because I was hanging in with the leaders and easily going to finish in the top ten---there were about 15 on-lap people in the group and I knew I could take more than a handful of them coming out of the corner, that's the miracle of acceleration brought to you by the powers of super-cadence. So, for the first time in this race I found myself trying to figure out how to make my move to position for a run at the top on the last lap. Then my wheel exploded. Still, I was pleased to have been doing well on a rough course.

The Maryland race was ridiculous. Navy entered a ton of people in the race and right from the start controlled the whole thing. The first two laps we pretty much coasted around because they refused to work and blocked the road to keep anyone from coming up. Eventually some guys broke the yellow line rule and took off and it sped up a little. Fortunately we managed to pick it up so that the race starting behind us did not catch up. Maryland's a real neat course---just one corner that you can really nail, a shallow but long enough climb, and a long, curving, quick descent.

The Iceman spent the race hanging at the back of the lead group and pulled off a pretty good race. He's got some good stories about guys wiping out in the middle of the pack. I spent the whole thing devoted to making sure to stay near the lead. As much as Navy takes a lot of physical effort, this race took a lot of mental effort. Every little crack in the pack exploited to move up, jostling handlebars and wheels, riding right on the yellow line into someone's shoulder, watching everybody to see if they're getting ready to go. Plus, it was drizzling and just staying up took an effort with the road slick like crazy. There were a bunch of real good rain-induced wipeouts, especially on the descent...

All the effort to stay up front pretty much paid off, I was relatively pleased with the results. Ironically, I'm pretty sure I could have done better but on the second to last lap I got screwed when I got stuck up at the very front after the guys in front of me all burned up. I didn't want to move to the end of the line with the end coming up, and of course nobody would let me in, so I got to pull half the double dragon around for the last lap. When the final attack came it took just an extra split second for my legs to recover and pick it up for the counter, so I fell back a little more than I wish I had. Still though, a good weekend overall.

As a side note, Navy ran the end as well and placed 6 riders in the top 8. It was kind of interesting to watch their race captain organize everybody and send orders throughout the pack to his different guys. Things like slowing down the pace, tailing a rider, even stuff like forcing up between two guys from another team so they couldn't talk to each other. Kind of neat

We also hit a high point in our season: no turn arounds while traveling!!! Plus, staying with the Castellans is always awesome. Definitely a good weekend for eating...

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Page last modified on February 28, 2009, at 07:30 AM