The Ronde Van Mullica road race has been a staple to the tri-state race calendar for the past few years. Located on my old stomping grounds, the race takes place in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. Although at heart this is a local scene race, over the years it has attracted professionals and elite amateurs both local, national, and international. Three years back the New Zealand national team had showed, in 2011 Mike Chauner (Cykelcity Sweden) and Tom Soladay (Kelly Benefits) showed among many other top elite teams from Virginia up to NY (Stans/AXA, etc).
Last year I had bridged up to an early break and grabbed 7th out of the break. This year I wanted to build on my 2011 result and one up myself. Although I knew my aspirations, I also knew that growing regional teams such as QCW, The Caffeinated Cyclist, Don Beyer Kia, etc. would be fielding teams of up to 15 riders. Knowing that I would be one of two INTEGRATED riders registered, I knew I’d have to play my cards right to land in a break with the right combination of teams and riders. Often locally the dominant teams will send people up the road and if you try to bridge, you get chased down time and time again. This can be alot of energy and no result, but sometimes you manage to break free. This season’s start list told me that I may not be able to play the game of racing aggressively now that team sizes have swelled and I was left to fend for myself. Throughout the week I tried getting into my head that I will not try to go with every attack, I will relax, watch, and wait for a few opportune moments, give them a shot, see what the result is, re-evaluate. I did exactly this. I watched countless promising moves go up the road for both short and long amounts of time. They just weren’t working. The field of over 75 riders was feisty and showing off early season fitness.
After a few attacks, attempts to bridge, etc. I could not break free and decided to try to sit in, be patient, wait for a last minute move in the last lap, and if all else fails position myself for the sprint. I ended up doing the latter. The sprint was slightly downhill, on a long stretch of road. Things were rolling and then got very fast as the line approached. I was blocked in but patiently waiting to jump. I jumped and saw that I was in the front group of the sprint. Crossed the line for 13th place. Not what I hoped for, but I’ll take it when considering the field size and horsepower I saw out there today.
So it begins…2012 Racing.