Bill Gros sprinting at Black Hills
This is effectively the first race of the Mid Atlantic season. It’s a challenging course at the Black Hills Regional Park in Boyds Maryland. It’s a 1.5mile curvy loop with a short sharp climb to the finish line that comes every three to three and a half minutes, so recovery time is short. The scheduled distance for the Masters 35+ race was 15 laps, 23 miles.

As with the first races of the season, I always question my fitness and how it stacks up against the competition. In this particular case, I had a really solid pre-race training ride on Saturday hitting some good power figures over a pair of 30-second, 1-minute, and 4-minute intervals that left me feeling more confidant than usual. Race morning went silky smooth with no pre-race nervousness, I was calm and collected and went through my warm-up routine with no hang-ups. I got several compliments on my new kit, the Integrated Sports Medicine powered by Pyramid Training Systems outfit is sharp and I was wearing my brand new bright red Bontrager RXXXL shoes courtesy of Bicycle Outfitters of Leesburg.

This season will prove to be interesting as I will be racing essentially solo in the Masters fields with no teammates. Essentially racing “against” my good friends on my former team, Evolution p/b Long and Foster. Being a sprinter though, it won’t be as much of a hindrance as I’m free to “surf” wheels at the end of a race preparing for the sprint. If I were a break-away type rider, then the handicap would be pretty significant without teammates.

The beginning of the event had us heading up the climb straight away and as soon as we arrived at the top, Andy Cicero of HPC took off with Andreas Gutzeit of NCVC heading after him. I thought this was a bit early and figured it was to set up a different HPC rider later in the event once Andy was reeled back in. Andreas eventually was dropped and returned to the field, but George Ganoung of ABRT bridged to Andy and they held it to the end with Andy taking a well deserved win.

My thinking was to take advantage of any large group that could break away from the peloton which happened last season when a group of about a dozen broke free about 2/3 of the way through the race. I followed every acceleration hoping a group of at least 5 or 6 would shake loose, but to no avail. Efforts by Evolution and XO Communications were for not and it was obvious the field would be racing for the remaining three paying spots.

XO came to the front in the closing laps looking to set up Chip Hoover and Jose Nunez as the field went single file during the last lap. I was having an easy time climbing the hill every lap and felt confidant that my sprint could carry me to a paying position and slotted in line about 8-10 deep. This was a touch further back than I was hoping but as we approached the hill for the final burst to the line, the seas parted as riders struggled in sprint mode and I simply eased, or maybe blasted, my Raleigh Militis 3 bike past everyone to hit the line first out of the peloton. Jeff Dickey effectively won the field sprint as he separated himself from the group at the base of the climb with a really powerful effort. If I’d started right beside him he would have out sprinted me handily, so nice job by Jeff.

Overall, I was pleased, an opening race 4th place money paying finish! The fitness is solid and my plan of garnering early results in April is coming as planned. I have a break coming in late April to attend my brothers wedding on a cruise ship before ramping it up again into the summer season. I’m looking forward to directing out elite squad representing our new sponsor, Integrated Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy. We plan on coming together in full force as a team, once two of our members come out of collegiate nationals as we head into May.

Next up, the spring classic Jefferson Cup road race in Charlottesville, Virginia. A rolling and challenging 60-mile road race for the Masters 30+/40+ and 70mile race for teammates Greg Wittwer and Marcos Lazarotto.