Roughly three weeks ago I raced the Housatonic Hills road race in the Roxbury, CT region. My team, Champion System Racing, decided to send me to Housatonic instead of the bigger money Harlem Crit in NYC since it had lots of hills. The race was a little over 80 miles long on a hot, sunny Sunday morning. A rider from the ProTour on the Cervelo Test Team, Ted King, decided to grace us peons with his presence so things were certain to be interesting. He just came from the Giro in Italy which most people would probably consider a pretty good training race for something like the Housatonic Hills. Along with Ted King I had to pay attention to a mountain goat named Roger Aspholm.
I had high hopes of a top ten finish going in to this race, and before I had seen who signed up I thought I could even win it. With Mr King present that seemed far less likely, but ya never know!
The race consisted of three loops with quite a bit of climbing. Nothing too long, but enough climbing to make it a race of attrition. About 10 miles in to the first loop we hit one of the larger climbs and I decided to attack. Why? I really don't know. I'm pretty bad about what to do and when, still. I've always relied on my motor to carry me to victory with strategy and tactics coming in a distant 2nd and 3rd. I hit the gas and quickly pulled away from everyone. No one tried to keep up with me. Why? Because no one knew who I was. A newbie nobody in an orange jersey struts away and is going to burn his self out...have fun! I decided to carry on - big mistake - and eventually caught the 4 man break a few minutes ahead. At the end of the first lap I hit a big climb that was fairly steep. I kept hammering away and dropped the break. Why? I have no idea. At the time I had decided I could solo the race since it was so hilly. Drafting wouldn't work, right? Wrong. I rode away on my own and did the next lap by myself.
At the beginning of the third lap right before the aforementioned climb began, I turned around and saw Ted King leading a small group of riders in a chase. I knew I was caught so stopped working hard. I hopped in their train and traded pulls. Every climb we hit the pace went up and I knew at some point I was going to get dropped. I managed to hang on until about 10 miles to go when they really cranked it up one of the longer climbs. I gave up, threw in the towel, and just tried to limp to the finish and salvage whatever place I could. Top ten still seemed realistic. I got passed by three more riders and finished in a decent 9th place.
This race finally beat in to my thick skull:
DON'T TRY TO SOLO A PRO LEVEL RACE NO MATTER HOW HILLY OR STRONG YOU FEEL.