Race Reports – Men’s Cat 5 Sterling and Ninigret

Tom Coughlan – Sterling Men Cat 5 35+

12th of 45 finishers

I rode in the pack for the first two laps. It was a moderate pace. There was
one ugly crash in front of me (apparently someone hit an adjacent rider’s
wheel). Fortunately just two went down, and from what I heard they were able
to get back on the bikes and ride back, at least.

At the start of the third lap, I came to the front of the pack on the first
hill and I saw a few riders ahead. I assumed they were with our group,
so I rode up to them. It turned out they were stragglers from the race ahead
of us. I was feeling good tough (I like hills), so I kept up the pace,
adding more in front of the pack behind me. One other cat 5 rider joined me,
and we had a nice time taking turns and putting some space between us and
the pack. Up to the top of the hill, right turn, and down Heywood. I did not
look back, but sure enough, once the course leveled off, I could hear casual
conversation going on in the large group directly behind me. Oh well, it was
fun while it lasted. From there, I stayed in the pack, and moved up as we
approached the turn onto Main Street. Then I was jostled a bit by someone
trying to make their move, and I slowed down a tiny bit. That was enough to
allow a bunch of riders to stay ahead of me as we got to the bottom of the
hill. I put on the sprint, but I stayed at about the same relative position
up to the finish. I felt that if I had been in a better position at the
bottom of the hill, I could have maintained it to the top.

I was a bit disappointed, because I finished 10th last year, but the field
was smaller last year, because of the rain, and the pace was a minute slower
last year.

Lesson: I think my conditioning was good, but my end-of-race strategy could
have been better.

David Green – Sterling Cat 5 u35

The 35+ Cat 5 filled up before I could sign up. This caught us by surprise
as MRC had been holding places for their own members, they later opened them
up again but by then we were in the u35’s. Not a big deal as I had low
expectations for this course that were subsequently met. The faster pace of
the u35’s would not make much difference as I know I don’t do hills well,
and after the pre-ride on Monday I knew it would be hard with the short
distance allowing stronger riders to push early. I was safely mid pack for
the first lap and in good position before Dunkin Donuts only to slide back
before the right hand turn. I hung with the tail for the first pitch on
Meetinghouse Hill Rd but was gassed at the top and as the pack went under
I190 and I gradually fell off the end. Even with low expectations this was
disappointing as I was hoping for better. I recovered on Heywood and made
up some ground on North Row, held the gap on Rt 12 only to repeat the whole
process on lap 3. Oddly lap 3 felt better than lap 2. The encouragement up
the last climb was appreciated and despite the oxygen debt I finished. I
wasn’t last. 42nd out of 45.

Ninigret Cat 5 Crit Day

Jonathan Sainsbury – Mens 35+ field:

Learned one important thing from Ninigret. I need a lot of work on my
cornering. Started well. Held a good position for several laps, but
eventually my sloppy cornering had me off the lead group. Did a couple laps
by myself. Caught two Mystic Velo guys. Formed a paceline. We worked well
together. We caught two more. Unfortunately, they didn’t work with us, more
hindrance than help. Still, they mostly stayed with us until the end.

Last lap, I put in a long push to the line. I knew it was early, but thought
if I could keep them off my wheel and push into the wind, I could gain some
distance. Mostly worked. Dropped them. Although, one of the less helpful
guys pipped me on the line. He would’ve done better had he used me as a lead

12th out of 20. Six seconds off of the first 10, who came in loosely
together. I had the legs to stay with the first bunch, but not the
experience. Need better handling and to get over the fear of tight corner.

David Green – Mens 35+

Ninigret was very cold for May 22nd, at least it was at 7:30am when I arrived to help John set up. So much for Spring. I had on every layer of clothing I’d brought and was still shivering at the registration desk. When it was finally time to get ready to race it took a long time to get the body moving again. I wrote off the 45+ race but the 35+ race went better. It was a little warmer by then. Like Jonathan I found again that the corners at Ninigret were “interesting”, much tighter than Wells Ave where you can ride through most as fast as the pack will allow. After a brief pull leading the pack on the early laps (not sure how) I sat up and forced people to take over, and then rode with the pack for a while until I messed up the line of a corner, caught back only to get the next one wrong too. This developed into a bit of yo-yoing on and off the back and then eventually not being strong enough to catch up again. When the elastic broke I was not alone this time and eventually caught another straggler. We built a gap on the group behind, but did not make any progress on the ones in front. Ended up 17th out of 20. Clearly I still need more intervals and less weight. Overall this was a great day and thanks again to John for organizing it and thanks to the NEBC volunteers who helped out with registration..

Some advice for others going to Ninigret – bring food. The local coffee shop (unless there is something closer than I found) is a long way away.

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