Joe’s race report from Philly—with VIDEO!

First, the helmet cam footage:

Philly Phlyer 2011 Men C2 from Joseph Near on Vimeo.

Here’s what ECCC director Joe Kopena had to say about it:

If you dared think Men’s C races were not infused with tactics, strategy, teamwork, and drama, you would be wrong, my friends, as the video clearly documents!  More seriously, Joe has tagged the whole video with running commentary of what’s going on as he makes his way to a 2nd place finish (and edited the race down to a watchable 12 minutes).  I think it’s a great video to pass on to newer riders as he makes a lot of good observations and really covers what he’s thinking about throughout the race.  Great stuff.

Now, on to the race report!

The best part about the Philly weekend was tons of racing and experimenting with team tactics. Most of the other teams seem to fail pretty badly at taking advantage of their teammates during races, and so it seems there’s a large advantage to be gained by getting really good at it. I’m really excited to try more tactics next weekend at RPI! [Note: Joe did pretty well for himself at RPI…]

The TTT was a lot of fun — we’d had enough practice together that we worked smoothly together and it’s always fun to go fast. There’s not much more to say, except that we won it!

The circuit race was next, and there were a huge number of us in the Men C race (8?). We agreed to try to keep the field together, since Andrew wanted to attack on the last hill before the finish. The C field was definitely faster than the D field I raced with at Rutgers, but I still felt stronger than most other riders; when a break of 3 riders formed, it was no problem for me and Zach Ulissi to bring it back. I was 2nd wheel going into the climb on the last lap; I was hoping to pace Andrew up the hill and lead him out for the sprint, if I was strong enough. But a guy in a bright yellow plain jersey attacked just into the climb, and I didn’t see Andrew behind me, so I tried to chase him down. The guy was super strong and I hesitated just long enough that I wasn’t able to get his wheel, and the roundabout at the top of the hill meant that there wasn’t enough time to close the gap before the sprint. Fortunately, it seems Sebastien WAS close behind me (though I was hurting too much to notice at the time), and Andrew did a super climb up the hill to finish next. So even though we didn’t win, the team had 3 guys in the top 5, which was great!

I also did the USAC 3/4 race later on Saturday. Like I said afterwards, THAT was a bike race. My goal was to finish with the pack, and I managed to do it — but just barely. It was much faster than the C race from the start, and because I had already raced twice, my legs weren’t feeling great. I tried to stay mid-pack, closing gaps as soon as guys fell off the back (which started to happen almost immediately). By the end of the first climb, my legs were cramping pretty badly, and by the middle of the third lap (we did four) it was so bad that I couldn’t stand up to climb. I tried to start each climb close enough to the front of the pack that I wouldn’t fall off the back before the end, but I found myself pretty close several times. I finally popped on the final climb, when the front of the race shot off towards a sprint finish (one that I only heard about via the announcer). But I was just a few seconds behind — that BASICALLY counts as a pack finish, right?

The crit on Sunday was, I think, the best display of team tactics we new riders have managed so far. On the first prime lap, Sebastien, Matt, and I moved to the front of the pack. Matt won the prime, with Sebastien coming second, and a third place for me; we did it with so much speed, though, that there was a significant gap between us and the fourth-place sprinter. I think we all saw the gap, but I started yelling for the two of them to go, and we fell into the TTT form we had practiced just the day before. I think the field was surprised, because they should never have let a break of three MIT riders form, but the gap went out pretty quickly as we worked hard together. Back in the field, I’m told that Andrew and Zach did an incredible job blocking for us, sitting second wheel and covering all the moves to bridge to the break. When it was his turn to pull, Andrew said, he sat up, slowing the pace even further. I imagine it must have been really frustrating to be a chaser in that pack! We won with a gap of something like 20 seconds, and Andrew pulled out a second in the field sprint, giving 4 of the top 5 spots to MIT!

There were also great attacks by MIT riders in the Men B field, and another incredible performance by Katie in the Women A race, but in the interest of convincing them to write their own race reports, I’ll let them tell you more about those races themselves :).

Joe’s also posted photos from the weekend on his Flickr page.