It was a busy weekend of racing for Team Sixcycle-RK&O as some of the team put in over 150 race miles between the Trooper Brinkerhoff Memorial Race on Saturday, the CRCA Club Series on Sunday morning and the Bethel Spring Series double on Sunday afternoon. At the end of the weekend Team Sixcycle-RK&O walked away with a number of top 10 finishes and another podium, this time coming from Ben Fackler's second place finish out of a break at Trooper Brinkerhoff on Saturday. His summary of the race follows.
Trooper Brinkerhoff Memorial Race Report from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Ben Fackler
Brinkerhoff isn't an early spring race in my mind. The damp chill in the air and still snow-flecked landscape of upstate New York in March are too winter-like to be called spring. And then there's the wind. A biting cold breeze, it blows constantly across the exposed and rolling rural landscape of Greene County. On Saturday it was especially spirited, and seemed to seize you at various moments and toss you around.
The parcours is a rolling, 12-mile loop through winding country roads, which we hit four times before turning off course for a 400 meter straight shot to the finish. The circuit course format meant that the wind would be a real factor in the race, with riders buffeted from head- and crosswinds repeatedly over long stretches. With a 100 riders registered, and aware of the relatively narrow country roads we would navigate, I lined up early towards the front of the field, and joined a few like-minded riders and teammates in making the race punchy in the first lap, to cause a separation or at least take the chase out of the field. In the long headwind section on the back side of the course, a solo rider went clear, and impressively held a decent gap over the field for the next 10 miles. Another rider and I attacked and bridged up to the solo rider the second time through the long headwind section, and the three of us got to work.
Having committed and cooperative racers in a break is critical. My companions were strong, and we worked well together, battling the challenging conditions to build a decent lead over the peloton. I vividly recall one moment in the break when a gust of wind ripped across the road and slammed into my bike as I pulled through, forcing me to counteract its physical force by leaning deeply into the wind as if I were banking a sharp fast turn.
In the final lap, I allowed myself to consider the possibility that the three of us would stick the break. However, in the fast tailwind section of the course, a group of five racers bridged, and a degree of chaos fell into the newly enlarged group. I was tired after drilling it off the front for the past 22 miles, and a little discouraged that fresh legs had arrived en masse. Still, having gone all in, I wanted the break to work, and started doing turns at the front again. When we crested a short, sharp rise and turned into the long headwind section of the course one last time, four riders remained: three of the new arrivals and myself. The rollers and crosswinds had not been kind to the other break companions.
We battled the headwind together, knowing that we needed one another a bit longer to get within safe striking distance of the finish. Out of the saddle while climbing the final hill, which I wanted to use as a springboard for an attack, I felt twinging pulses in my quads, and sat down immediately to avoid a locked muscle. The day's toils had taken their toll, and I was forced into a defensive posture. With a little over a kilometer to go, a break companion jumped, with another in fast pursuit. I bit my lip and gave chase. I passed the second rider in the last 150 meters but was unable to bridge the gap to the first, who held on for a nice win. All in all a satisfying race and solid result, and a good start to road racing in 2013.