Ben Woolston’s Philly Phlyer 2013 race report

Despite the brutal weather Saturday, this weekend was one of the most fun I’ve had so far in collegiate racing.

Team Time Trial
I got called up to do the Men’s A TTT with Zach, Cameron and Joe. To say I was nervous going into this was an understatement—all these three are much stronger than I am—and I was expecting to get dropped pretty early on. But somehow I managed to stay with the group and take (short) pulls throughout most of the the 14-mile course. Coming into the final hill, I was completely spent, and dropped off the back as the other three finished (the time for the team is taken from the third rider to cross the line). We came first by a margin of ~25 seconds, averaging 27 mph for the whole course. It was amazing (and painful) to be part of that group.

Finish photo from the men’s A TTT
Finish photo from the men’s A TTT (courtesy

Men’s B Crit
The collegiate crit on Sunday started pretty fast, and strung out quickly around the corners. After a couple of laps, I put in an early attack to try to get away, and got into a group of 4 that immediately began working together. We got caught pretty quickly though, and I sat toward the back of the pack for a little while to recover. While I was doing that, another attack went, and another strong group of 3 got off the front and started to grow a significant gap on the field. I wanted to be part of that break, but because I was toward the back of the pack, it took me a couple of laps to get into a position from which I could attack and attempt to bridge. By this time, the gap had grown to about 25 seconds, and though I bridged as hard as I possibly could, after a lap-and-a-half I realized I wasn’t going to catch them by myself. I eased up and got back into the pack as it came past, then after a lap of resting I got Kuat (MIT B rider) to come with me up to the front to try to organize a solid chase. Unfortunately, one of the guys in the breakaway (Queens University) had strong teammates in the field, and they successfully blocked our best attempts to chase. Exhausted again, I realized our best chance in this race was to try to get our sprinter (David Koppstein) into a good position to sprint for 4th place. I dropped back through the pack to find him, but having already won two prime laps (his goal for the race), he had dropped off the back a little while before. With a couple of laps left to go, two other riders individually got off the front to try to avoid the field sprint. On the last lap, I knew we had to catch them, so I went to the front to lead the chase to catch them. Right before the last corner we caught them (one of them swore quite violently at having been caught so close to the end). Having been first wheel for basically the whole last lap, I was expecting to get swarmed as we rounded the corner into the final stretch, so I took the hardest line I could through it and opened up my sprint coming out of it. I’ve no idea how this worked, but no one came around me and I won the field sprint, for 4th overall.

Men’s ¾ Crit
Having not had enough racing up to that point, and desperate to get some USAC upgrade points, I entered the Men’s ¾ USAC crit (about 90 minutes after the B crit ended). This race got started quite similarly to the B crit. There were a few early attempts at breaks (some of which Joe Near or I got into), but none of which stuck. Several laps from the end (I can’t remember how many), two guys got off the front and started to open up a gap. Having learned my lesson from bridging too late in the last race, I attacked and chased all out. It took me three quarters of a lap and a lot of suffering, but I eventually crossed the gap, and then there were three of us trying to stave off the pack for the remaining 3-4 laps. By the time I got there, one of the guys in the break (by build, very much a sprinter type) was basically exhausted so the other two of us did most of the work to stay away. As I took my pull on the straight before the last corner, I heard one of them yell “Here they come” and knew the pack was close. I didn’t want to take the last pull into the corner with a sprinter in the group, but didn’t think I had a choice with the pack closing so quickly. I came through the corner first, and sure enough the sprinter came around me before the line to take first. I took second, and third place went to the last guy in our break. The pack was right behind us, crossing the line at the ‘same time’ on the official results.

I left Philadelphia feeling exhausted but really happy. Partly because of the racing, but probably most because of the delicious Cheeseteak we stopped for before leaving!

Finish photo from the men’s 3/4 crit (courtesy
Finish photo from the men’s 3/4 crit (courtesy

Finish Photo from the Men’s ¾ Crit