Sam Rides the Green Train to a Decisive Win at Mt. Blue

On a day that felt a lot like what some would describe as summer, 9 of us set out from Boston to race at the fabled Womputuck State Park. This is the second year in a row the race at Blue Hills was held on this hallowed oval. Whenever a hilly road-race is transformed into a crit, a fat sprinter kid gets his wings. The goal of the day was to use our numbers to impose our will on the race and force a sprint finish. That meant covering haymakers, rather than throwing them. There were several names with whom we made ourselves familiar, and made sure that those boys wouldn't get up the road without a shadow of green and black.
Travis covering

The race took a few laps to get underway. A few cautionary blows were thrown before the real fireworks to come. My first lieutenants Cole and Dave made themselves busy at and off the front, making sure all of our boys were involved and chasing when they felt like it was necessary, while I ate snacks and thought about how good my nap was going to be at the back of the race. With about 7 to go, I started to get things organized from the back. Moving up in a pack this size coming off of our first taste of NCC racing the previous weekend was much easier than I anticipated. That, and I had done almost nothing all day... so to say that I was fresh might be an understatement. As I moved up, I would try and pick up teammates and tow them to the front. We arrived, almost in tact, just as the prime bell sounded at 5 to go. We won that prime, but at a huge detriment to our lead out team. Many of our numbers were gassed, and we were left with Cole, Dom, Dave, and an ailing Mike Heiss for 4 more laps.

It's not that I forget how strong Cole and Dave and Dom are. It's not like I don't race with them every single weekend.... but the warming awe I get watching them on the front, slowly pulling the legs off of my would-be opponents (and themselves), is so amazing that it feels like the first time, every time. For the final three laps, Cole and Dom, alone, sat on the front doing 28mph, discouraging everyone. Period.

LeadoutTrain

Through the start/finish at the bell, Dom came off the front and slotted right back in behind Cole. I often talk about "the moment I know when we won..." This was that moment. As soon as Dom got back into the rotation, I knew that Cole now had another pull after his current one, and Dave hadn't even touched the wind in 5 laps. We had it.

Cole was back on the front as we rounded the "corner" and wound up the back (front?) stretch. Tommy Goguen, who is looking more and more like Rigoberto Uran, put in a MASSIVE dig, and opened a good gap. Looking at the photos, it was brilliant little move in retrospect. Brother Manny was right in the mix at the end. Tommy attacked us to put Manny in a good position for the finish. Had Dave not been there to pull Tommy back, it would have been me in wind, AND having to sprint it out with everyone!

Dave leapt from Cole's wheel, and began towing me to the move. When he had closed the gap to a point that I knew I could bridge to, and overtake Tommy, I told him to back it off and keep some in the tank. We let Tommy hang out to dry for a few seconds longer as Dave conserved.

"NOW DAVE"

Dave kicks again just as we catch Tommy. I sit for a few seconds as I wind up that old familiar 11th tooth, and then let slip the dogs of war. It was a long sprint. I kept Luke Fortini in my periphery until I finally got on top of the gear... one second before the finish.

Winner-winner-chicken-dinner

Having your entire team line up in front of you is a a joy that not many people will get to experience for a whole host of reasons. I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to be able to delight in those last 5 laps. Yes, there is pressure when everyone puts the fate of their race onto your tiny little legs. But that pressure is far outweighed by by the pride you feel when everyone knows you can get it done.

Photos courtesy Mike McCabe