Monday, March 23, 2009

Bringin' down the House

Philly race in 5 days. There's been a lot of chatter via the interwebs about Drexel, Penn, and now Temple about "protecting their house" but BU is shipping down from Boston to bring down said house. We're itching for some big results, and the upcoming race weekend has it all: windy flats, short leg-burning hills, and a peloton that has long forgotten about the 'first-race jitters'. Sure, my own brother is the race director. Sure, I graduated from Drexel University. And, sure, I've lived in Philadelphia for most of my natural life. Does that mean that I'll have some unfair advantage? What?! Maybe! Just pretend not to be surprised when a rogue marshal leads the peloton off-course right after Natan attacks up Black Road.

Now for a quick recap of Delaware, so I can put a great weekend behind me and focus on the upcoming week. Really fun weekend, and I enjoyed traveling with the team for the first time this year. This group clearly had an affinity for Olive Garden, Panera Bread and Waffle House. Folks, the ECCC is treading dangerous waters when we travel far enough south to reach this food chain. I swear, the entire schedule is designed to try and convince UVM to forgo the hours of travel. We all know how that works out.

The road race was a big wild-card for the weekend, but turned out to be a blast. We drove the course early in the morning, which turned out to be very calming despite the rumors that the 'rumble strips' and narrow roads would ruin the day. From kilometer 0, I attacked straight away hoping to draw a few people willing to build up a lead and wait for a larger break to bridge. This was met with an audible moan from the peloton (and probably a few choice words). Haha. Brian from Drexel joined up, but he didn't inspire confidence so I sat up. Turns out, he was intent on joining the main break and was successful in doing so. Damn. Next up was Natan, who attacked on one of the last hills in a section of rollers after Brian and I drilled it to try to split the field. He dangled in front for a while, but UVM sent a helper his way and they were gone. At the beginning of the final lap, all I could think of was "fantastic, Natan is stealing the show and I'm forced to fight for paltry points with a large peloton with Lipka." I decided to attack about a half a mile from the feed zone, where the peloton would be less concerned with chasing and more about getting their precious water. I was smart enough to take a bottle the previous lap so I was good to go. Thanks to Preston, Rob, and Dave (Men's intro road race winner) for the feeds! After a mile or so on my own, the peloton was out of sight and I could see an Army rider in the distance. We worked together for a while, then I started to feel my legs falling apart. Thankfully, Brian bridged up with a few other riders to share the pace-making up the rollers. On the back stretch, I cramped up hard and was forced to drop off. However, I had a large enough gap to finish ahead of what was left of the peloton in 15th. Although there were missed opportunities throughout the race, I was very proud of the fact that all 3 BU riders finished in a breakaway.

I recovered pretty poorly for the next day and struggled through the ITT. Great course, but no legs. Next up was Alan Atwood's Crit of Death. Even the moto-ref crashed! To be fair, the officials were clearly concerned with our safety and used their best judgment by weighing possible alternatives and pleading with riders to use caution. However, I was not impressed with their judgment. After debating whether or not to start after watching some spectacular crashes, I decided I'd line up and at least check it out. I consider this a mistake, not because the course was really that dangerous but because you should never race half-heartedly. After witnessing some silly crashes, I sat up in the corners and was quickly left behind. Not worth it. Natan slid out on the infamous corner, but took a free lap and murdered himself to get some sweet, sweet points. Brian apparently loves these up/down crits, and killed it for the second week in a row. I still had fun heckling Drexel Timmy with Doug, and hanging with my Dad, Collin, and Denise. Their advice - "don't chance it!" Time to recharge the batteries and get ready for the total suffer-fest that will be Philly.

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