The Century Road Club Association Orchard Beach Crit has always been one of our favorite races. In addition to an incredibly spectator friendly course, we've enjoyed a lot of success at the race, with Corey Morenz winning solo last year followed by Roger Parmelee in second. This year we were fortunate enough for that luck to continue, with Colin Tanner taking a solo win. His race report is below.
Orchard Beach Crit Race Report by Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Colin Tanner
Squeezing in a warmup in the parking lot at Orchard Beach, it was hard to know how I was feeling. The wind was strong, but my legs felt decent. These two facts ended up being important factors in my race. I put in a few hard digs, weaving around the massive puddles in the enormous beach parking lot, feeling the wind either push me along or hold me back. I lined up my efforts with the headings of the course – a three turn, flat and short course with a hard corner, a softer corner and a sweeper heading into the finish. The back straight heading into the sweeper before the finish was a tailwind. This would mean a fast approach to the finish.
As I rolled over to the start line next to Charlie Bird and Ollie Davis, I wasn't sure what my plan was. Rog (Roger Parmelee) told me the day before, that to win, you need to be the first around the sweeper before the finish. As the start gun went off, thats what I thought about. The field started off and I began my first lap ever on the course. I spent the first two laps getting a feel for the course. A couple things were clear to me. First, the hard accelerations and tight corners felt like a cross race and second, there is no way the field can get around these corners as fast as I can alone. All of the sudden I had a plan.
Early in the race I got to the front for a couple laps and pushed the pace. There were a few reasons for this. First, I didn't get a full warmup in the parking lot and I wanted to stretch my legs a bit. Second, I wanted to feel what riding alone (at my pace) would feel like. And third, I wanted to test some legs. When the pace gets fast, fast guys get going. My experiment at the front proved fruitful. I was able to keep a fast, smooth pace through the course. I finished my warmup and the stronger guys were now all at the front. I pulled off and settled back into the pack.
I took a couple laps to recover towards the front of the pack. On the back straight I heard the all too familiar sound of carbon on pavement... a lot of it. The crash took out a lot of riders. An ambulance was on the course, and the race was neutralized for a few laps. Quickly, the pace heated up again. Shortly after that, a break formed off the front. Five, maybe six guys were just ahead of the pack. It didn't seem dangerous at first, but as the group started to click, the break began to pull away. With about 15 to go, I had a chat with teammate Oliver Davis...
“We've got to bring this back in...can you bring me up to the break”. Ollie obliged and pulled up inside of the course with me on his wheel. I'm not sure who came with us. It was time to go. Ollie was pushing hard and the gap was getting small pretty quick. With 9 to go we were almost there. Ollie dug a bit deeper and as we pulled up to the back of the break. There was some disorganization as we caught the break. Just enough to give me an extra advantage. I attacked hard just before the sweeping turn before the finish straight. As I headed into the wind there were 8 laps to go.
On the back straight I looked across at the pack and saw that I was all alone with a gap. I motored on staying smooth, trying to focus on breathing rather than the pain in my legs and lungs. I settled into a rhythm and felt fast through the corners since I was able to choose the perfect line without being hindered by riders around me. The tailwind on the back straight was a welcomed relief each lap. It gave me a chance to recover from the relentless headwind on the start/finish straight.
My gap settled into 20 or 30 seconds. (Thanks to Josh Rovner and Stephan Hoffman for running back and forth on the spectators field shouting out encouragement and time gaps.) As I came into the last lap I still had a decent gap. Around the last corner on the final lap Rog's advice popped into my head... “first around the last corner”. I rolled through the finish line and through up my arms.
Big thanks to CRCA for all the work putting on a killer race, Matt Vandivort for being a superhero and Team Sixcycle, especially Ollie Davis for an awesome day at the beach. Also, Laura Wilson for being an awesome supporter, talented photographer and the best girl a weird bike racer could ask for.