Black Mountain 50k race report

It has been years since I’ve done a race report but I thought it would be fun and appropriate to do one for my first 50k ski race.

With temps in the teens and a howling wind, twas a bitingly cold and windy day to race my first ever 50k up at Black Mountain in Rumford, Maine last Saturday. The John Roderick Marathon is low-key affair and therefore perfect for first-timers, or so was my reasoning. But let me back up a bit.

Some of you may wonder how I got to Bikeway Source and why I am even racing skis and not bikes. For the 2015 season I signed for the Lupus Racing Team after an injury-marred 2014. However, the historic snowfall coupled with seeing first-hand how caring too much about bike racing literally destroy a friend’s life and family, I had no appetite to race bikes. Continue reading “Black Mountain 50k race report”

EFTA The Pinnacle Race Report

Ben Pagano – Singlespeed Open: 2nd Place

After what seemed like a pretty hard week of training, I decided to go and do the EFTA race called the Pinnacle up in Newport, NH.  The Pinnacle is one of the most challenging courses we get to race on here in New England.  It starts with a double track climb that quickly transitions to a gnarly singletrack switch-backy  climb that goes on for what seems like a couple of miles.  We had a pretty thin field in the singlespeed category with only 5 taking the line, but it was a pretty fast crew.  Two of my good buddies, Alexis Arapoff and Keith Reynolds both of Bikeman, were the guys to beat. Continue reading “EFTA The Pinnacle Race Report”

USA Cycling MTB Marathon Nationals

Sue Lynch on the Top Step at Nationals
Sue Lynch – MTB Marathon Nation Champion

The race was held at Wildwood Park in Appling, GA which is just outside of Augusta. The venue was beautiful, situated on a lake and had many river and streams running through it. The woods were scented with honey suckle and sweet jasmine. It smelled wonderful. The 60 mile loop was about 50 miles of single track and 10 miles of fire road, open field and paved road. The single track was mostly pine forest with some nice hardwood forest as well. My favorite term new description of the trail was “brown ice” local speak for the super slick pine needles which made sharp corners treacherous. The weather was perfect, about 60 degrees at the start and 80 at the finish. The trails were dry and fast, not too technical and had delightfully fun “pump track” like bumps throughout. Continue reading “USA Cycling MTB Marathon Nationals”

Quabbin Race Report

At the Quabbin Tower
Team at the Quabbin Tower

A few weeks ago Skip Thomas floated the idea: Wouldn’t it be great to race Quabbin with you me and Mike Bolio-we might be able to get away and team time trial to the podium? Then, as Rasputitsa tore my legs off, and Skip won the fat bike, leaving me curled up in Cyberia’s snow….it began to dawn on me that he had a plan for pain.

Leading up, I began to remember I’d raced here as a CAT 5 unnattached newbie just after my first son (now almost 9) was born – where the final 3.5 miles’ 600′ climb left me tied to a tree. Skip’s team time trial idea seemed pretty good as I didn’t want any part of a sprint finish.

Arriving at the Tower, Mr. Harris shivered up to the car, bundled for the 50+ field. Somehow seeing a fellow teammate was both welcoming and reassuring. And while it felt colder than Rasputitsa, there was sun and it wasn’t snowing.

During kit up, I realized that we were truly a CAT 4/5 road racing group: Mike needed help pinning, Greg Bosworth (a friend from Velo Underground) had ridden the Battenkill Fondo but was unaware of USCycling licensing, I admitted to googling “how to win a bike race” the night before, and Skip lost his safety pins, again.

Team with our Motorcycle Escort
Team with our Motorcycle Escort

Time seemed to accelerate as I made final adjustments to my Bikeway Source Giant TCR for her first race . . . call to the line, the sun hotted up, mad scramble to de-clothe, instructions to never pass the motorcycles and to only turn right, and then all 50 of us were off. Led out by a Blue Indian (literally the name on the back of his vest and the color of his awesome motorcycle) and a flag waving trimotorcycle we dropped through the cold on brand new road to Rt 9 on a neutral start.

The first 30 miles were pretty windy and slow on the hills with a couple of near-misses with a cell-phone suburban and a dropped chain/solo crash, and nobody showed a lot of inclination to pull – Skip clearly had legs as several times he just climbed away from the pack gapping out of sight at least once, and several hundred yards a couple other times. Mike, Greg, and I did the same but to a lesser degree. Individuals in the pack seemed to be saving themselves. This was fun!

Coming around the top of the Quabbin at 30 miles the BSBL guys seemed comfortable, but Skip’s cassette had worked loose (those safety pins again), and he was riding on 5 gears. At 47.5 miles, a hard sandy right turn led to a steep climb over Greenwich Rd where I’d been forced to claw back before, I thought to stretch things out a bit and was first over the top onto a steep long narrow twisty descent. Through blurry eyes, I passed the Indian and surreally, the Flag Waving Trimotorcycle (at the finish, the Blue Indian said he was sideways on the sand…and the triman said he couldn’t corner at all).

Turning onto Rt 9, with 7.5 miles and only two climbs left, I heard one guy mutter, “This is where it starts to hurt.” And then Skip turned the screws, gently, but the pack didn’t follow.  And when he was gone, out of sight, I thought, maybe he has a chance? Time for Plan B team tactics?

Mike and I blocked mercilessly and Skip stayed away, even on a windy descent and long flat he was still 200 yards ahead at the turn to the final 9 minute climb. I was in the top 5 getting twitchy, thinking don’t go, don’t tie yourself to a tree, wait for someone else, wait, don’t bridge the group to Skip, stay smart, somebody is going . . . punch it! Suddenly I found myself 100 yards ahead with only 50 to Skip – WTF did I do? I was alone, in limbo, redlined, 8 minutes to go. Crap. Looking around I can’t really see the pack and my only hope is ahead.

After soloing for almost 5 miles, Skip amazingly traded pulls, and gave hope, “I think we can stay away Joshie” This was the perfect play, the one I’ve heard Phil Liggett say every year during the TdF . . . two teamates have joined up and the pack is closing, can they make it?

Josh Closing the Deal!
Josh Closing the Deal!

3 minutes left, one guy bridging, road kicking up, everything getting fuzzy. I heard Skip pop and knew that I had to go. And my bike responded. I wasn’t tied to a tree!  200 M sign, snot flying, foaming, and an eternity. And then, Mr. Harris welcoming us at the line. My first road race win!

Skip hung in for 3rd, Mike finished his first road race with the pack and Greg completing the Battenkill/Quabbin double.