Stage Fort Park is a pretty special spot. Between the topography of the coast and the history and everything else it is really cool and a damn near perfect venue for a race.
early morning course inspection
Eric could only do day 2 Sunday which was fine with me. Doing both days would have been a lot of travel and after three sessions of doubling up into this weekend only doing one race on one day was a nice change of pace.
It was an early morning with my race going off right at 8am. Its nice racing early when its hot and dusty out though. We did a sunrise course walk / inspection. It was an interesting course. Pretty climby for being right on the coast with some techy cross fall-line stuff, some sand, but unfortunately lots of flat power pedaling sections. Not ideal for me but I'm getting better at holding groups close enough on those sections to roll back in once things get turny or technical.
I had managed to get my points low enough for a 3rd row call up. Gloucester draws people from all over so the fields seem to get a bit stronger. I was shooting for top 20. The start went up a little uphill pavement drag and I got a decent jump and was able to move up a bit and out to the left which is where I wanted to be heading into the first few turns and barrier section. Eric and I had identified several spots where wide and fast was much better then tight and sandy where most people were going to gravitate to.
I've been fortunate to have avoided any enormous 4/5 carnage pileups so far this year but heading into the first turn someone to my right must have had his head down because all of a sudden hes got both wheels locked up and skidding. Luckily no one got twitchy and he managed to ride it out and we got around the turn without issue. I stuck to the plan and stayed way wide left. Everyone else started trending right trying to take the turn into the barriers as tight as possible. Was able to come in and up the uphill barriers with some momentum and managed to pass several guys jammed up in traffic on the right.
lap 2 working traffic
Same plan coming into the cross fall line chicane section. Everyone wanted to try and stay tight but there was actual grass at the bottom of the turn and you could come in WAY faster and again come up to the stairs with momentum. I also decided to run the entirety of the chicane section. It was rideable if everyone was hitting their remounts and not riding like idiots but in our field that is not the case. Made another few passes through here.
Eric got through the lap 1 chicane relatively unscathed
Lost some of these passes on the back pedaly half of the course. I would get a few back here and there in the sand or in some of the gravely turns over on the playground side of the course. I was also able to close gaps lapping through up the pavement drag. Rinse and repeat that was pretty much the rest of my race. The 4/5 race at Gloucester is only 30mins instead of the 40 I'm used to so it was a bit frantic and intense. Last lap hurt. Everyone was going pretty deep, I caught some guys and was caught and a little group of 5 or so was formed on the long stretch along the ocean. I got gapped a bit but there was a high speed 180 hairpin at the end of the straight so that gap disappeared but it was immediately out of the saddle and sprinting into the next long grass drag.
I was staying in there but I was very near my limit. Luckily there were some twisty bits right before the final drag up the pavement to the line. I was able to rest a bit through this section and eliminate any gaps to the back of the group. Unfortunately the middle of the group was not as good at cornering as the front two and they got a tiny gap.
Hitting the pavement I chose the bigger guys wheel to follow initially. I figured he would have a whole lot of power on the earlier flatter section. Which he did and we immediately dropped one group member with three more just ahead. He was gaining fast for a bit but when the pitch kicked up a bit he immediately started to fade. I dropped a gear and popped around his right and went all in. I don't do these red lining sprints very often (or ever) so I had no idea how my body was going to respond. Luckily the power was there, I caught and passed on younger guy but there were still two more guys just ahead. Unfortunately for me the road flattened out a bit. I was still gaining on them but not as quickly. I got up to the rear wheel of the second guy but that was it by the line.
Turns out that group was coming in for the last few top 20 spots and I got the last one on offer for 20th. I think if the race had been 40mins and if we had another lap to go I might have done a bit better but I'm pleased with the result. Points are down to 419 now and rain is in the forecast (finally!) for Night Weasels on Wednesday. Then its a nice little break from racing, Squamtoberfest and then more racing bikes.