Race report by Andrew Walsh, winner of the men’s Category 4 race.

I’m not a climber as you can tell, I just rode very conservative and tried not to stand much. I didn’t have any climbing gears so I used my 11-21 cassette and kept running out of gears on the climbs, but the pace wasn’t so fast so I was able sit and spin. The guys who climb were up front babying the big climb so I was glad for that.

On the second lap there was a big crash (don’t ask me where because I never did this course before, I just know it was a crash uphill at about 17-18 mph). It was a pretty big pile up, 15 guys or so, and that split the field. I was behind the crash and navigated around it but had to sprint up the hill latch back on to the group up the road.

After that the climbers raised up the pace and the started the damage (I know Dave Trimble from Kissena and a few others were behind that, very strong climbers). Guys started getting popped off the back. I was pretty much the last guy in the first group so I saw guys blowing up dropping off on each side of me. I just kept a steady pace and followed any steady wheel I could find.

I had 3 gels and one bottle so I was pacing myself with the fluids. I don’t carry more than one bottle on long training rides so I got used to riding like that. On the fourth lap I was feeling pretty good up to the last big climb, then all of a sudden I blew up, calves and quads cramped up and I had to pull over, basically I got dropped. I got too comfy sitting and forgot to stretch, so I started standing a bit while climbing to work off the cramps. Honestly I never felt pain like that before — it felt like someone gave me a dead leg in both my legs. About a minute later the cramps left but so did the first pack I was with.

While I was going up I still saw guys getting popped off the back but two guys I ride with out in LI, Dan Habiq and Craig Goodstein from Metro, caught up to me and we organized real quick. They shared load on the climbs and I hammered on the flats and the rollers. We kept working like that for about 7 miles until we reeled the first group back in on one of the flats. I gave the final surge to catch them before the final climb.

Once we caught them I stopped peddling and started recharging, I was the last guy again out of about 17 going for the finishing sprint. I sized up the group to see if any other sprinters were in there and I saw one, the rest were pretty much climbers or a little bit of both. I saw a small surge on the right then the left started a bigger surge so that’s the side I took. I didn’t know where the finish line was since I was new to the course so I just looked for the crowd of people standing and just dropped the hammer and never looked back. I just listened to hear if someone was trying to sneak in past me since I had two more gears left … but that’s all she wrote.