My original plan was to head up to Jersey with Mike and Allan to clean up at the Giro di Jersey. (Though looking at the results, they obviously didn’t need any help.) However, my leave request was denied at work, which meant I couldn’t make the Friday GdJ TT, so I headed out to the Tour of Washington County instead, wanting to be able to contest the overall at something that weekend. Glad I did. It was an awesome weekend of racing. Here’s the recap:
Stage 1: Smithsburg RR
The two biggest things I remember about this stage were the heat and the freakin’ wind. Good lord. Every time we came around that right hand corner to start the next lap it was misery. Though I hated the wind, I loved that long big ring climb halfway through the course. In my mind, that climb was the key to the race (unless it was going to come down to 200m) since there was that twisty downhill section following the left hander after the climb was over; a good place to sneak away if you already had a gap.
With this in mind, I made sure to go to the front on that climb and drill a hard tempo. On one lap (can’t remember exactly which on at this point) a group of about 6 or 7 of us started to roll away. It looked promising briefly, but a look back at the field revealed that they were still pretty motivated and didn’t want to let us go. With the field still motivated, it wasn’t worth the effort so I shut down my effort and the sentiment pretty much made it through the group.
Somewhere on the 5th lap, there was a 4-man attack which included Tim R and Lance A, from Bike Rack. One of those guys yelled, “Hey, come on, Brian!” and I think I yelled back that they were crazy. (Maybe so, but they ended up staying away.) Fast forward to the last lap on my favorite climb. Same deal: I went to the front and rode hard and ended up rolling away from the field. About halfway up, I looked back and saw that my gap was increasing so I committed to the effort, wanting to get maximum time on the field before the narrow twisty section. When Steven Kendall and Rob Sheffield bridged up to me, I knew we had a good group so it was on.
I was feeling it (in a this-hurts-a-little-more-than-I-want-to-be-hurting-before-a-couple-nasty-climbs kind of way, not the badass way) and ended up dropping a little off the back of our chase group; I didn’t want to pop on the wall climb. Steve attacked Rob at some point and made off pretty good with a 2nd place. I passed a popped off Rt 1 Velo dude and snagged 6th. The field rode in some 10s of seconds later.
Stage 2: Boonsboro TT
You know those warm-ups where you kind of know you’ve got some good legs? Well, that’s how I felt before the TT. Not too much to report here. I went harder up the climbs than on the descents. Passed three people even though there were two ghost riders in front of me. Couldn’t have gone harder. 3rd place here. (N.B. Tom beat me by 2 seconds even though he was working on very little sleep. He’s a killer.)
Stage 3: Williamsport Crit
Probably the best decision I made all weekend was getting a hotel room in Hagerstown rather than heading home for the night. Not only because it allowed me to sleep in an extra 1.5 hours before the TT, but also because after the TT, I had a place to go take a shower and take a 45-min nap with my legs up before the crit. Good thing too because the first 5 laps of the crit were ridiculously hard. Seriously, it was one long line for 5 laps. Before the race people were concerned about the screaming downhill into the hard right that we’d take at about 40mph each time, but actually I though this crit was one of the safest and most fun I’ve ridden.
Nothing of consequence really happened throughout the race in terms of breaks and so on. Everything got brought back pretty quickly. So the good stuff, final lap. I was in good position maybe about 7th wheel coming down the hill into the turn. Got held up a bit behind a Bike Rack dude going into the final tight corner and then behind a little scrum after the corner where two guys went closer to the curb than they probably planned. I took 5th in the sprint and was making up ground on DJ! I wish I’d been a little more aggressive on the last corner and tried a tighter inside line. Oh well. I got 4th on GC for the weekend, edged out by Steve Kendall by 2 seconds.