2011 Tour of the Hilltowns – Men’s Cat 5
Tom Coughlan – 11th of 48 starters
Going in to the race I was a bit more worried by the talk of narrow, steep, badly-paved downhill stretches than I was about the uphill sections. (I should have been worried about both, of course.) There were about a dozen water bottles along the road on those bumpy down-hills, two flats in our group, and one flying computer! But, people seemed to heed the warnings about being careful, and there were no incidents that I was aware of.
I rode near the back of the pack until the start of the big hill on East Hawley Road. From there, I advanced without too much trouble to within 15 or so riders from the front of the pack. Then the hill started to take its toll, and I stopped advancing, and then I started falling back… Oh well. At the top I recovered fairly well, and started to catch up to some other stragglers. At one point there were about 9 of us, we started a double pace-line, and I thought “this’ll be great, we’ll catch up in no time”. Unfortunately about half the people didn’t know how to do a double pace line, and about half were not keeping up (not sure it it was the same half…). So I ended up pulling ahead in a group of four remarkably evenly-matched riders . We ended up staying together for the remaining 25 miles, running a nice efficient pace line. We weren’t passed by anyone, but neither did we pass anyone in our group. It surprised me to learn we were 5 min. behind the winner. Boy am I glad I hooked up with those other three guys. It would have been a looong 25 miles going alone. I know now that if I had a sprint at the end, I could have been in the top ten (to which Barry G could say, “well Tom, maybe if you practiced that sprint once in a while…”) Lesson learned.