From the start we knew that taking a team full of crit racers to the Neversink Invitational likely wouldn't end well. But since we were already going to be north of the city raising money for a good cause as part of ERRACE, it seemed like a reasonable way to finish the weekend. In hindsight, it probably would have been a good idea to look at a course map in advance of the race, so we at least knew what we were getting ourselves into. Instead we spent the afternoon following ERRACE in upstate Connecticut drinking beers, swimming and taking full advantage of the ignorance is bliss mantra.
Fast forward to Sunday and we found ourselves at the Claryville Volunteer Fire Department kitting up alongside fifty or sixty fellow riders, and perhaps a similar number of photographers (seriously, thank you to the massive number of people that shot the ride).
We had jokingly anointed Colin Tanner as our 'protected rider,' if such a thing exists, mostly because he looks the part for a race like this, never mind the fact that he's still bouncing back from a wild crash at the Harlem Crit. Like our original decision to register for Neversink, it just seemed to make sense at the time.
Once we got underway, things quickly took a turn for the serious when both Colin and Roger Parmelee got off the front with several other riders including Neil Bezdek somewhere around mile 1 or 2. Which made me very happy because (a) it wasn't me in the break with 74 miles still to ride and (b) it meant a relatively relaxing ride for the peloton in the opening miles of the race.
Of course, by the time we rolled around to the second climb of the day at mile ~44, which I later learned was called Peekamoose, the relaxation was coming to an end. And with lackluster fitness from nearly two weeks off the bike following my own tumble at Lou Maltese, I was unceremoniously spit out the back on the final steep ramps over the summit.
Thankfully Charlie Bird both took pity on me and waited on the descent, and when I started to come unglued shortly thereafter, he also agreed to drag my rolling carcass back to the finish. Of course, having not reviewed the course map, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into on Sugarloaf - and for me things went from bad to worse.
Despite my glacial pace we eventually reached the summit, very quickly thereafter making a beeline for the post-race BBQ, with only one or two wrong turns along the way.
As for our guys in the break, it was a mix of bad legs and bad luck as Colin cracked towards the end of the race and Roger missed a turn in the final miles, putting him out of contention. Nevertheless it was an awesome and brutal day on the bike, on some absolutely beautiful roads.
In the end not a bad way to finish a great weekend of riding after all.