Nothing says 'SUMMER IS HERE!' like a 3-day weekend packed with bike racing. On the East Coast, Memorial Day offers the Killington Stage Race, or the closer to NYC and more training and equipment friendly Tour of Somerville - a 3-day criterium series in and around Somerville New Jersey. TBD's Ted Teyber and Matt Vandivort opted for the ladder, and what follows is a brief recap of Tour of Somerville Day 1.
Day 1 of Somerville featured the Bound Brook criterium, a modestly technical (6-turn) 1.1 mile flat course in a residential neighborhood of Bound Brook, NJ. What makes this race famous and a noteworthy race on any East Coast race calendar is that due to its long tradition, residents BBQ and lawn party for the weekend. Creating a great atmosphere for both racers and spectators alike.
M 3/4 RACE BY Ted Teyber
Although not a true Crit racer, I was feeling strong leading into the weekend and had my aim set on getting a result in the combined Men's 3/4 field. There was a big field of 80+ registrants, consisting of racers from all over the North East and even up into Canada. One kit that caught my eye was the Canadian team Tekne, who we had raced in Vermont at Rasputitsa a month ago. The sole Tekne rider was the only racer who managed to get away for a few laps, but was brought back with two laps to go. Other than bringing back Tekne, there was really no collaborative work at the front (a frustrating race characteristic I am beginning to associate with fields including M4s) such that it was tough to stay at the front without being on the front for a significant duration.
When at the front, the chicane turn was smooth as butter, whereas other laps in the middle of the group I nearly came to a stop resulting in the need for a big acceleration effort thereafter. The difference in effort was massive.
I have no regrets from my race, and even felt I had good legs for it, but just could not do much in the bunch sprint after being pushed to the curb around the final corner and fighting to hold my position from there to the line. Accordingly, I went home empty handed, scratching my head as to what I could have done differently.
TBD's Matt Vandivort next lined up for the Men's 2/3 race, which was a MASSIVE field of 130+ racers, including the areas best. As is tradition at the Tour of Somerville, the standouts of the field were announced to the line, and the crowd did not disappoint in receiving them. From there I'll leave it to Matt to describe his race experience:
M P/1/2 by Matthew Vandivort
Cycling is a sport of highs and lows. Last week the high came on Thursday night as I was fortunate to take home a solo win at the Rockleigh Mile. While I was hopeful that might be indicative of good form going into a big weekend of crit racing I woke up the next morning with a scratch in my throat and the extra fatigued legs that are usually indicative of a cold. Given I had already registered for Saturday's Bound Brook race however, I tried to put that to the back of my mind as I rolled to the line.
For the opening twenty minutes of the race I was reasonably successful in ignoring my body's complaints - I was definitely missing the sort of kick needed to be a presence on the front, where the lines through the distinctive chicane on the course were smoothest, but I felt OK slotting into the pack about a third of the way back. The routine in that section of the peloton was straightforward if not entirely efficient: brake hard into the chicane and accelerate even harder out of it. Then get ready to go full gas on the tailwind back straight so as to not get swallowed by riders moving up into the third corner.
As I was settling into a bit of race rhythm the sound of carbon hitting pavement rang out directly in front of me in corner two. With every line quickly clogged with riders on the ground or stopped I bailed out into a driveway and ultimately onto someone's front lawn, managing to stay upright in a maneuver that reminded my of the end of my race at Orchard Beach.
Along with a dozen or so other riders I reversed course on the sidewalk, refusing kind offers of cold beers from some of the families enjoying BBQ's on their front lawn, and headed back to the SRAM neutral support pit for a free lap.
We jumped back in toward the back of the large field, which of course was not the place we wanted to be. The chicane - which felt slow 1/3 of the way down the field - became a near standstill affair on the back of the pack. I knew I needed to move up but any pop that I brought into the weekend with my cold was completely gone. I struggled in the pack for another fifteen or twenty minutes before resorting to tail-gunning for another few laps.
But by the time the race hit five to go and sped up for the lead into the sprint my body was done. From a solo win on Thursday to a DNF on Saturday. So it goes with cycling - and unfortunately the effort of racing Bound Brook brought my cold full on, leaving me on the sidelines (and off my bike entirely) for the rest of the weekend's races.
So in the end both Ted and I went home with less than we were hoping for but we kept the rubber side down throughout and enjoyed some of the most community oriented racing New Jersey has to offer in the process. All in all not a bad start to the long weekend.
Oh, and Lisa grabbed a top 10 finish for CityMD Women's Racing which meant she was buying when it came time for the obligatory post-race stop at Wawa:
Ted Teyber is a New York City based cyclist and land use attorney who joined To Be Determined for the 2016 cyclo-cross season.