754 laps of Bethel
This past Sunday Team Sixcycle-RK&O headed up to Bethel Connecticut for the Ronde de Bethel, the first race of the Bethel Spring Series. With most of the roster making the trip north and riders competing in three different fields, the team completed approximately 754 laps around the 0.9 course. At the end of a day that included snowfall during two of the races, Team Sixcycle walked away with a win in the Cat 4 race and 3rd Place in the Cat 3/4 race out of a break, marking a successful conclusion to the first weekend of racing during the 2013 season. Race reports from the 4 and 3/4 races are below, lots of pictures from the day's action have been posted on our Facebook page (links below) and stay tuned for video from the 3/4 and 1/2/3 fields.
Ronde de Bethel Facebook Pictures from Team Sixcycle
Ronde de Bethel Cat 4 Race Report from Team Sixcycle's Charlie Bird
Ollie and I headed out to Bethel, CT for our first race of the season on Sunday. We picked up our rental car at 7 am, crammed our bikes into the small trunk, and made the uneventful drive from NYC to Bethel. When we arrived, we had plenty of time to relax, register, and sit in the car to remain warm. The race started at 9:30 am so we headed out at 9:10 for a quick warm up. Once at the start, they were still cleaning up a crash in the Cat 5 field so we were delayed a little and did some laps around the race course. Our strategy was pretty simple. Ollie was going to work to get into a break and I was going to conserve energy and sprint. I've known for a year that the finish here is perfect for me.
I honestly don't remember the first 13 laps of the race with great detail. It was pretty uneventful with the exception of the swarm of riders sprinting the small finishing kicker every lap. I realized I had no clue how many laps were left and had to remind myself to check the lap counter. 7 to go! Holy crap. Where did the first 12 laps go?
The very front of the field was trading barbs with no real success or separation, but creating gaps just big enough to make it annoying. I fell back a little bit to find a steadier effort. With 3 to go, I lost a little bit of concentration and found myself a bit farther back than I wanted, so I used the kicker to move up the field. 2 to go I held my spot about 10 back, and was very nervous of getting swarmed on the hill right before taking the bell. I decided I would give it a pretty good effort to get up there and hold position. I gave it a bit much and actually ended up on the front. Oops. I pretty much sat up and Ollie came around my right side and I jumped on his wheel.
He started pulling and I kept telling him "Easy. I'm clear. Long way to go". We made the turn into the back stretch and immediately hit a head wind. Ollie started to fade and a surge went up the left side. "Great job Ollie" I said before jumping onto the fresher wheels. One rider got some separation and I was 3rd wheel in a chase group. The first guy crapped out shortly and the wheel I was on wasn't closing the gap. We were just about to get onto the hill. Screw it. I went.
I pulled in the lone rider and started to sprint. About half way up the hill I could feel a rider along my right side so I kicked again. We started to crest the hill and I could feel him fade. I also saw the line. "I've never seen this before" was my only thought. An unobstructed view of the finish line. Holy shit! This is gunna work! Once I could see that line, I knew I had it. First race of the year. First win ever. First real result ever.
Ronde de Bethel Cat 3/4 Race Report from Team Sixcycle's Ben Fackler
We were greeted on our arrival at race registration with the news of teammate Charlie Bird's victory in the morning's Cat 4 race. It warmed us up on what was otherwise a blustery, grey day in Connecticut. Always well organized, Bethel is a great early season race series, featuring a sweeping non-technical course with a short hill each lap. It seemed clear that the challenges would be the gusting wind and the collective jitters of the early March peloton.
Team Sixcycle-RK&O was well represented in the race, and from the start teammates were in all the early moves and patrolled the front of the field aggressively. After initiating the (very) early morning break in the A Field in the CRCA's Central Park club race the day before, I was content to block, smother moves and wait until the second half of the race before throwing the dice with an attack. With 14 laps to go, the opportunity presented itself. A small group was forming up the road, and the peloton wasn't giving chase. I jumped and bridged solo, caught my breath, and started to work.
After a few laps of hard effort to establish the break, we were rewarded with the stinging sensation of snow whipping against our faces, reminding us that winter wasn't quite over. We kept at it, and the break gradually whittled down to three racers, with riders dropping back or losing contact on the hill or in the flat headwind section. We never built a significant lead on the main field, which appeared to constantly nip at our heels. My teammates did a great job blocking in the peloton to help us stay away. Having put everything into this move, the three of us continued to work well together until the last lap, when in the flat headwind section leading to the final hill sprint one break companion refused to pull through, jeopardizing our chances.
Faced with the choice of letting the break get swallowed up in the last half kilometer of the race or doing a hard pull to try to keep us away, I chose the latter and drilled it into the headwind. Gassed, I was slow to respond to my break companions' sprints up the hill, and crossed the line in 3rd ahead of the surging peloton. Two other teammates rounded out the top ten, with Matt Vandivort and Corey Morenz taking 2nd and 6th, respectively, in the field sprint. After catching our breath for a few minutes, the bulk of us lined up again for the Cat 1/2/3 field to race another 46 laps at the Ronde. All in all a fun, cold day and a solid start to the season.
Ronde de Bethel Cat 3/4 Video from Team Sixcycle's Dan Cleiman