Why did we, instead of sending a full roster to the Sunapee Road Race or other legitimate races, commit ourselves instead to the Gentlemen’s race hosted by Rapha? Well, for starters it’s a good break from the usual race schedule. It’s also great training for the upcoming stage race season. More than that, though it’s a team-building exercise – a 120 mile team time trial effort over large hills, most of them dirt. Six teammates working as best they can, in unison, to beat 14 other teams doing the same. To level the playing field, Rapha organized a system of staggered starts: the teams started on the course, slowest to fastest, over the course of an hour and a half. First to the line is the winner.
We brought a solid team, with aspirations of victory. Jay, Jackson, Pete Smith, Josh, Pete Bradshaw and James represented Embrocation out on the roads (and dirt paths) of Litchfield County, Connecticut this past Saturday. Pierre and Steve Francisco were also there, racing for the Rapha Continental team, and as such were our competition for the day.
The defining characteristic of the course (actually designed by Pierre) were the rocky dirt roads; extremely rocky. This led to a multitude of flat tires for many teams – 5 in total for us. In the end this would prove the difference between victory and defeat. It would seem the key to victory in this race is to ride, flat-free for as long as possible while not dropping any teammates – finishing with anything less than a full compliment of 6 riders is grounds for disqualification.
In the end we finished second, despite our many flat tires and despite a couple of our riders enduring soft patches and near-bonking toward the end of the brutal day. Here’s a little snipped on an email Josh sent to the rest of the team the following day:
_To all those who supported me yesterday:
An agent of the spirit world was swirling above me, inviting me to
cross over to the other side. But you guys kept me inside the circle
of the living.
And I just want to say, thanks._
That pretty much sums it up. That and these pictures: