Tour of High Bridge 9/1 - By Alan Fody

Alan Wins.jpg

Keith Hatton and I traveled up High Bridge, NJ to race the men’s Cat 3 race on a very challenging circuit race. The course started with a very challenging, 3 part hill, which consisted of a 2 block, 17% grade wall, followed by 2 blocks of false flat into a head wind and 1 final block of ~8% grade. Then the course rolled slightly downhill on the worst paved road I’ve ever ridden on. My friend Victoria described it as the “Paris-Roubaix” section. At about the half-way point on the course there was a screaming decent to 1.5 miles of rolling terrain back to the finish line. The majority of the course wound along through a nice, shady forest, which significantly limited the sight lines. At 800m from the finish the race returned to town for a long, straight, and slightly downhill finish. Due to the difficult nature of the course and the limited sight lines, our race plan was to get me into a break and hopefully get some upgrade points. Keith already has enough points for his 2 upgrade. Before the race started the officials asked the field if we’d mind doing 5 laps instead of 6 laps to get the race back on schedule. I was worried that making the race shorter would make the race easier. I’ve learned that my strength in bike racing is suffering, so a shorter, easier race would not help me win. For some reason, I decided to keep quiet and attack earlier. During the first two laps I attacked a number of times on the small rollers throughout the course and I found myself in two mini breakaways but nothing would stick.  Towards the end of the 2nd lap I watched 1 rider roll off the front on the field during the “Paris-Roubaix” section. The rider looked strong but I wasn’t in a position to chase without dragging the field along with me. After waiting to see if anyone else would chase, my teammate Keith went to the front to pull him back. At this point the rider was out of sight and I knew he was going to stay away. Going into one of the larger rollers I came around Keith to lead the chase. Once on the hill I remained seated but upped my cadence, while Keith kept our pervious tempo and allowed me to roll off the front. I managed to escape the pack and started to bridge to the lone leader. The leader was visible on the long finish straight, which motivated me to chase harder. When I started up the wall, the leader was painfully close but the peloton was breathing down my neck. I decided to go all in and commit to the move. When I turned onto the false flat I spun as hard as I could. With my heard beating out of my chest I knew I had to keep pushing. I turned to the last steep section of the climb and I charged up to the leader. I was less than 50 feet behind him at the top of the hill but I just didn’t quite make it. I proceeded to ride as hard as I could over the bumpy section but the gap wouldn’t budge. Finally I was able to kick up small uphill section and catch the leader before the screaming downhill. Thanks to Keith’s blocking skills we never saw the peloton again. On the final lap I started to think about how I could win the race. My legs were hurting and I still wanted to puke from my bridging effort. I decided to try and set my opponent up to lead-out the sprint. With about 2k to go I pulled through and took a long hard pull to about 1300m to go, and waived him through. We were far enough out that we could still be working together but close enough that I knew I could sit on his wheel till the end if he pulled through. He took the bait. When we emerged from the forest and started the approach to the finish he realized he was in trouble. He led me over a bumpy section of road and tried attacking. I was in way too big of a gear so the attack almost worked. He kept the pace high until about 300m out when he started the sprint. I felt that was too early to sprint so I stayed on his wheel until Dave Casale shouted for me to sprint from the sidelines, I made my jump, and took the win.