ECCC Providence Criterium p/1/2/3

Despite my team's heroic efforts, and their tremendous 1-2 podium placements at the road race the previous day, my personal failures (attributed entirely to my rubbing brakes and absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I can't go uphill (shut up)) were still gnawing selfishly at my fragile ego. The ride down in the #van to Providence gave me even more time to reflect and prepare my fat-kid revenge on all the skinny jerks that made me hurt so badly on Saturday.

We lined up, all 40 of us, just as the sun began to poke through the clouds for the first time in 4 days. The plan was for half the boys to play defense for 10 laps, and for the other half to then come out swinging once some of the bigger names had given it a go, and had been summarily thwarted by our massive presence. True to form, this almost happened. We established ourselves on the front. Keeping the pace high through the technical 6 corner crit. As we all know, the closer you are to the front of a course like this, the easier your day is going to be.

The pace was high, but not blistering. Certainly not as high as it could have been. There were a few "attacks" though I am hesitant to call them that. More like early race feelers from, now that I think about it, only ENGVT. Cole's was the first real test of will at about 8 laps in. Two laps later, I found myself nearing the front of the race approaching the "s" curve and figured it might be a good time to open up the legs. I attacked first wheel into the corner, and into the tailwind backstretch, drawing ONLY John Badessa out from the group. We established a paltry 5 second gap, and started to cautiously roll the break.

3 laps into our little attempt, I yelled at Scott Peradotto to give me a time check the next time though. He did. 6 seconds. "AWESOME" I thought to myself. Just as I passed the officials who had just calculated how many laps we had to go. "37." Oof. Scott parked himself on that corner the whole race like a CHAMP and shouted the gap every. single. time. It was an immense help.

So we were off; Unsure if just the two of us could possibly hold off a storming field. I knew full well that my team of 60 dudes would be doing their best to disrupt the chase... but I also knew that there were FULL squads that were not with us, and would not simply just let us ride away. We worked well together. John: mostly silent, holding a solid pace. Me: Mostly silent except for the 40-50 times I'd shout words of encouragement to him (but secretly to myself - "we got this man", "It's going out", "This is awesome", "We're flying").

Once we pried our gap out to 50 seconds, I realized that we were doing 1:06 second laps. I looked up from my Garmin on the finishing stretch and saw a glimpse of the last rider in the field to disappear into corner one.

YAHTZEEEEEE

Full gas again. I could sense John start to slow down, so I made sure I was on the front every time we hit the tailwind. 30mph down the entire backstretch. Lap by lap, more and more of the field came into view. And lap by lap, I knew that allllll my friends we waiting for me. People down the finishing stretch started to yell at John and tell him to stop working with me to get into the field. They were right, obviously. He knew it and I knew it. But the other option was for him have to tow me around for the last 20 laps, because I was willing to be just as uncooperative as he was! It didn't come to that, thankfully, and we made contact with about 15 to go.

15 to go, coincidentally, is exactly the lap when it started to rain. I thought for a split second about just hanging of the back of the field to avoid the almost certain carnage of a rain covered 6 corner crit, but decided that hanging out with my friends was going to be a better idea.

I started to move up through the field, passing bewildered teammates still looking behind the pack for me. I arrived at the front, and began making very Boonen (read: pro) arm gestures for my teammates to come and hang out. Dave was the first to arrive, just as Johan of Grinta put in a dig to try and secure 3rd place. Dave, like the good lieutenant he is, sat on the front and was very concerned about everything. I, on the other hand, had one goal in mind: Stay upright. Dave tapped out tempo for 5-6 laps, while I shouted that everything was OK, and to be calm, and that he looked very nice today, all the while letting Johan continue his quest for glory.

When we did eventually reel him back in, it was 5 to go, and Cole and AJ had come to join the party at the front. This was the plan originally, just minus the rain and the field-lapping. 5 to go and we are in the drivers seat. 2 to go and there was pressure from Luke Fortini, perpetual nice guy and professional bad luck haver, and someone on hot tubes. Luke, smartly, took up shelter behind our train while Hot Tubes tried to push me off Dave's wheel. I popped around Dave and tucked in behind Cole and AJ.

Down the final backstretch and into the last two corners I was shouting at AJ to pick it up. We went into those corners as fast as the rubber would allow. I sprinted almost from the bend, seemingly not feeling the previous hour long effort. All the while I was looking over my shoulder: "Where's Dave?! Where's Dave?!" I realized later that I was not sprinting nearly as hard as I could have been, and should have probably been concentrating a little harder on winning.

Coming across the line, knowing that my team has that much confidence in me is magical. There is no better feeling than getting it done for everyone when they sacrifice their race for mine, and by extension their/our team.

Our little team is flying, and I am a little in awe. 2 wins and 4 podiums in one weekend? Totally floored.

Photo Credit: Ethan Young-Kershaw

Photo Credit: Ethan Young-Kershaw

 

Lastly, huge thanks for the Brown, RISD, and Providence cycling teams for putting on a fantastic event. The course was an amazingly fast and technical course right in downtown Providence, with plenty of great spots for spectators, and a great atmosphere. If you're thinking about checking it out in the future, you won't be disappointed.