I raced three out of four weekends in October this year. In my last post, I covered the first race I did this month -- Iron Cross. The following week, I lined up for the four hour endurance class at Blue Marsh Cyclemania, and then this past Saturday, I was down in Maryland for the inaugural Six Hour relay @ Susquehannah.
I've done the Blue Marsh Race almost every year they've had it now, including the last two versions in the endurance class. Blue Marsh is a very fast course with one massive climb up the back of the old ski mountain. That climb is what really makes the race challenging for a single speeder, because the endurance class at Blue Marsh is open -- there are no age groups or separate class for geared vs. single. So it's pretty much a tough road to hoe to make the podium on a single speed because you can't gear for both the mountain and the flats. What you end up doing is gearing for the fast flat sections and accept that you'll be hiking the big climb. The geared riders don't have to make that choice, so … like I said, tough road on a single speed.
My goals for the race were to ride as fast as I could all day and try to beat as many of the geared riders as possible. I figured I was going to be the only single speeder because that was what had happened the previous time I'd done the endurance race there. In fact, it wasn't until the day before that there were even any other single speeders registered, and that was when Chris from MTBNJ texted me to get some info on the race. I did know that there were at least two geared riders coming who were going to be almost impossible to beat on that course, so I figured that my absolute best case scenario was maybe third. On race day morning, I was happily surprised when Chris brought along Mitch and another friend, Tim, to join the two of us on single speeds for four hours.
The race start at Blue Marsh goes along the contours of a small, slick grassy hill. I knew that the best option was to get out front early if I could because someone always seems to hit the ground on that grass and I wanted to avoid any part of that. So of the start, I went out as hard as I could and led the entire field into the single track. I knew that wouldn't last, but I wanted to avoid as much possible trouble as I could. As it turned out, I stayed near the front for most of the first lap, and at one point took a quick glance backward and realized that we had a small selection up front -- three geared guys, myself and the other single speeder, Tim. I could see Chris charging hard but we had a gap and I figured that even if Chris caught on, we had already put a bunch of the other racers on the defensive.
We lost the lead three geared guys on the mountain as I suspected we would. Chris caught on with Tim and I as we hiked up to the top portion, but the effort seemed to cost him quite a few matches because we dropped him again after the descent. Chris and Mitch had both made a last minute decision to swap out their gears for larger ones right before the start, so they both had to do a lot more work than myself or Tim on the few steep climbs on the course. Personally, I don't mind spinning so I would never have opted for the larger gear and I was happy all day on my 32:18.
Once we left Chris behind, Tim and I pretty much settled in for the rest of the day together. We chased the geared guys, but realized pretty quickly that we were really at a disadvantage on the singles, and eventually we decided that we'd continue to chase but would focus more on holding off anyone chasing us. We worked very well together, and I had a good time chatting with him as we looped around the course again and again. I pretty much sat on the front all day, but that wasn't Tim playing any games. The truth was it worked best that way. I was a little stronger (because of my slightly lighter gear) on the climbs and I get skittish following a wheel too close because I like to see my own lines. Tim was a better bike handler and had no issues sitting on.
There was some confusion at the scoring tent near the end and it ultimately cost Tim and I a final lap, but it all worked out in the end. We were never going to catch the lead three (even though we did get closer than I thought we were) and in the end I crossed the line with Tim for fourth and fifth overall.
ENDURANCE 30 AND OVER OPEN
PLACE BIB FIRST NAME LAST NAME Team Age Finish Time
1 514 GORDON DAVIES ELEVEN MADISON PARK / BICYCLE TECH RACING / VTC47 4:14:49
2 517 STEVEN MANCUSO CYCLE CRAFT/BULLDOGS 40 4:15:45
3 512 CHRIS BRAWLEY MTBNJ.COM-HALTERS CYCLE 48 4:18:23
4 515 MARTIN GRIFFIN TWIN SIX / BULLDOG MTBERS 43 3:47:07
5 523 Tim Borsetti 53 3:47:07
6 521 CHRISTOPHER SCHILLING MTBNJ.COM/HALTERS CYCLES 43 3:57:21
7 518 JOHAN NEL 44 4:06:23
8 519 JASON PERRY HANGSTERFERS LUBRICANTS 36 1 Lap
9 520 JASON PILATO TEAM MARTY'S 43 1 Lap
10 511 JOHN BAUMANN 52 1 Lap
11 522 BRIAN SHAUB 37 1 Lap
12 555 Mitchell Gold 55 1 Lap
13 526 Anthony Groves 40 2 Lap
14 524 0 3 Lap
15 525 Erika McEnroe 42 3 Lap
16 516 ROBERT HIMES MASON DIXON VELO/THE CYCLE WORKS 40 4 Lap
Next up … Susquehannah ...