So much for our recon ride,! The 2014 Sunapee course was rerouted on the northbound pass to hook closer to the lake due to an incomprehensible decision to earmark the day before the race to give the roads their first face lift in ages. But it may have been for the best: rather than the long steady climbs on 11 instead there was a roller coaster circuit that was much more exhilarating. The course was plenty tough and I went into race day with heavy legs feeling a bit tired and off my game.
Arnost and I represented NEBC in the 5s at Sunapee. Thankfully, the torrential rain earlier in the morning had washed away the pollen that had been trying to kill me for the last few weeks, so I was feeling better than I had in a long time. The pace was fast from the beginning and the course was hard, so there wasn’t a single attack of note the whole race. We had our usual share of squirrely young racers,but I was happy to see the race organizers actually enforce the yellow line rule and DQ two guys who egregiously crossed over to move up the field. I clung to Arnost for most of the race, and it was nice to have an ally in the pack. The pace picked up again on the second lap and there were 2 crashes, which left Arnost and I in a small group heading in to the final roundabout. Arnost was well positioned and punched it, taking an impressive 5th. I didn’t have the legs to keep up and couldn’t settle into the right gearing for the uphill finish, but I held on for 7th, which I was pretty psyched about. Chapeau to Arnost for a strong race, and great to see so many NEBCers on what turned out to be a beautiful race day.
Weather forecast was for rain at race time, but everything passed through earlier so at the start it was partly cloudy and getting better by the minute. We had a good size M50+ group. Within 5 miles of the start, one rider rolled off the front and nobody went with him. Pretty soon he was out of sight, and there were several teams with 3-4 riders but none wanted to chase, so I didn’t feel obligated to work. There was an attack on the climb on Rte 11 that was brought back and then Jim Nash (CCB Racing) put in a huge “out of the saddle effort” on the climb on Rte 103A to get a gap of about 100 meters. Knowing that he was one of the stronger riders, I tried unsuccessfully to bridge across to him on the next rise, and burned a few matches in the process. Eventually we caught him on the headwind section of Rte 103. On the second lap several riders started to work to bring back to lone escapee, but he still had 1’30” with 10 miles to go. After the long climb on Rte 103A, Jim Nash again rolled off the front and this time I managed successfully to bridge across to him and we were away. We worked hard and soon picked up Steve Warren (Hammer) who had gone up the road a few miles earlier. By this time we were out of sight of the pack and after some strong verbal cajoling (!), Steve continued working so we could catch the early escapee, Edward Sebok (Portland Velo) who we finally saw when we turned onto 103. I didn’t think we could catch him and I though about attacking to try to ride for 2nd, but my legs were fairly cooked and it was into a strong side / headwind. So we continued working and as we descended into the rotary Edward was just starting the climb to the finish. We caught him at the top of the climb, he was truly beat after an amazing effort of 40+ miles on his own, and then I had little left for the final uphill sprint so took 3rd. It is a great course, good facilities at the ski area start/finish and the organizers did very well to put on the race including revising the route less than 24 hours before the start.