Reading Radsport Festival Race Report
Some of you might be thinking that these past weekends marked the start of cross season, but you’d be wrong. For me, the first cyclocross race of 2019 happened in Reading, Pennsylvania in early August, the day after one of the toughest road crits of my cycling career, and only a few hours after a 10 minute hill climb.
“Looks like it’s another TBD rider off the front. This time it’s Corey Williams! They are really working as a team today”
It’s day one of the Reading Radport festival and from the back of the Men’s 3/4 crit I hear the announcer commend the race tactics of my three teammates who are at the front of the peloton. In a road calendar that looked like a shell of my 2018 season and with no results to speak of, it’s the moments where you see other’s dedication and commitment pay off that keeps you coming back.
Day 1 - Crit and dinner
We arrive in Reading to find a premium-looking event. Given the current trends of the sport, we’re always impressed when race organizers can make amateur athletes feel like pros for a day. The men’s 3/4 started off spicy and pretty much stayed that way for 45 minutes. I waffled between thinking “I’m going to quit” and “damn this is a cool course” while all three of my teammates, at different times, had stints off the front — much to the delight of the announcer.
In the last two laps, I mustered up some legs and found myself on the front with Clay on my wheel. We had a plan and here we are actually doing it somehow, albeit a lap too soon. I railed the downhill, nailed the chicane, and then blew it on the 120º turn, leaving Clay unprotected and on the front. It was a prime lap and so the field surged around me and that was the end of my race.
I pulled through the finish and rode directly up to one of the many course side bars, dropped my bike, walked into the bar and slammed a beer with everyone around me watching. It felt cool. The town was out in full force and people came up to me one after another asking about the race and the town and where I’m from and a hundred other questions. It felt really cool.
Once we had gotten a couple beers in, Corey announced that he got 4th. God damn Corey is strong this year.
We packed up our stuff and headed back to our home for the weekend. The evening was spent telling stories about the day and of races past and about non-bike stuff. On a big race weekend, its these in between moments with your friends that are the hardest to nail in a write up. If you’ve had a big race weekend, you know what I mean.
Day 2 - Hill Climb and Cyclocross
After a night of good food, a couple of drinks and a few hands of Monopoly Deal it was time for Day 2 of Reading Radsport. Cullen and I were scheduled to do the Hill Climb and Clay was on media duties after not having a CX bike ready in time.
The Hill Climb was first up and it was only on the day that we realised that it was a mass start and not an ITT. Mass start, 3.5km @ 5% and around 9 minutes of pain. Having not ridden the climb, my plan for the race was to sit around 3rd to 4th wheel until around the little downhill (somebody gave me a verbal run down).
Gun went off, I clipped in smoothly and quickly jumped into position. There were a few attacks off the start but I just let other people close the gap and I kept following wheels. Before I could see turn 9, I could hear it. So cool. We went through the corner among flairs, messages of support on the road and of course beer hand ups. I gave the beer a miss but Cullen took one for the team. Turn 9 at Reading Radsport, the closest an amateur cyclist can get to Dutch Corner at Le Tour. Very cool.
After turn 9, a young medalist had gotten away and was almost out of sight with another rider in pursuit. With about a km to go I decided it was time to get rid of the bunch I was sitting on and attacked (5s at 650w). On the downhill I managed to catch and attack the rider in 2nd and held my position to the finish about 20 seconds adrift of 1st. After the race I spewed about 4 times, anyone who has trained and raced with me knows that this is a pretty normal occurrence, I don’t leave much in the tank.
Because I am a data nerd the stats for the climb:
Av/Max HR: 186/195
Av Watts: 343 (5.45 w/kg)
Cullen lined up for the cross race two hours after the hill climb. He pulled off two laps and then bailed. Good on ya, mate.