Tour of Somerville 5/27 - By Dave Casale

Memorial day weekend in the Delaware valley brings a few standard things along with it; hot dogs and hamburgers on the barbeque, the first time that the mercury usual peaks passed 90°F, the unofficial start of summer, and for cyclists in the area it means Somerville. The Tour of Somerville is the oldest race in the United States, upwards of 68 years I believe, and every rider arrives determined to win (especially the NYC sprinters). I raced the Cat 2 event with Tim Manzella, after racing Bound Brook in the P/1/2 the previous day. The race was scheduled for 20 miles in length, a very short distance suited to many of the bunch sprinters registered for the event. Even TSV Alum and T-Town Keirin King Andy Lakatosh was in attendance, hoping to contest a field sprint. Also in attendance was 2000 Olympic gold medalist Marty Nothstein, testing out his legs after only 6 total rides (not races, rides) on his bike in 2012. Knowing that the event is generally won from a field sprint, the plan was to sit in, and if the pace was fast enough at any point in time, try to get Tim inserted into a breakaway. I intended to float along and try to contest the sprint at the end of the race.

As anticipated, the race stayed together, with a few short lived breakaways lasting only long enough to gather up primes. Going into the final 4 laps, Tim was able to give me some assistance navigating to the front of the race, just in time for the bell lap. I slotted in to about 15th place as we heard the bell. As we approached the backside of the course, very few riders wanted to lead into turn 3, and the group swelled across the road. A solo rider attacked, got a gap, and the field responded through the turn. I was able to avoid losing too many positions, but did get bumped back into about 20th place during the swell. At Somerville, you can see the finish line from very far away, so it does become a bit of a waiting game as you approach the straightaway, but you have to time it just right. As the sprint geared up, I was able to snatch back a few spots during the reshuffle, but was still forced to start my sprint from too far back as we approached the finish line. I was able to jump from about 12th place to take 5th in the sprint. A good result for the day, but just a little off of what I needed to try for the win, since I was there, but not right there. Really good positioning, and a little bit of luck, are needed to win that sprint. The top 3 were all from NYC.

After the race, I had a chance to look at my Garmin data from the event for some fun numbers for everyone. Our fastest lap averaged 30.8 mph, and the slowest was only in the 26 mph range. In the final sprint, of about 325 meters, my average speed was 39.8 mph for about 20 seconds. Pretty crazy to imagine after the fact, and it makes me very happy that the sprint was safe and that everyone held it together, even with some bumping going on.