When It Blows…Cumberland Classic

I’m not going to speak for anyone but myself, but I think I speak for everyone here when I say that this weekend was shockingly difficult. Like, more difficult than ending a phone conversation with your mother. Or more difficult than trying to explain to a clueless mainstream sports fan why you shave your legs.  Yeah. It was that hard. You feel me now?

The finish to the men's B race saw a thinned chase group sprinting for third.

So, right off the bat, everyone seemed to experience just how tough it was. (Again, I’m speaking for “everyone” here, but probably, really, just myself). Saturday’s road race started innocently enough. Neutral zone, chatting, laughs, but suddenly, it sped up. Quickly. Within the first ten miles of the men’s B race, there were at least 5 attacks. Also within that span, roughly a quarter of the field (and yours truly) got dropped. To quote a Brevard spectator, it was “soul crushing.” But as for the main groups, I’m sure they were slightly taken aback by the sheer number and intensity of the rolling hills of the course. This was definitely a course for the “power” rider, even the finish was an uphill sprint. Just watching the men’s A race finish, sent pain back into my sore legs.  Seeing others finish, I noticed there were many that had given up, gotten into small breakaways or had remained in small chase groups. The fracturing of groups that occurred was more reminiscent of a mountain course; it practically was! Cumberland really did craft a deceitful and menacingly difficult race. Bravo.

Two A riders sprint uphill to the finish.

Again, Sunday was another challenge. Waking up to an unusual 28 degrees – for this winter at least – knee warmers and gloves were at the ready. Arriving at the venue, LP field granted great views of the city skyline and a sweet backdrop for photos with the ominously towering bleachers in the background. I surmised that since we were so close to the water, there would probably be a lot of wind. Unfortunately, I was all too correct. The 6-turn course offered a lot of speedy cornering and accelerations, but the wind nearly pushed you backwards on the backside of the course though the chicane and then downhill towards the finishing straight. It was demoralizing even when riding in a group. Alone, it was “soul crushing.” Even still, a few strong riders were able to battle through the gales. For instance the men C’s saw Georgia Southern rider, Jeff Millich, solo to victory. In the men’s B race, a Brevard and Lees McRae rider finished with roughly half a lap on the pack. Women’s A’s was dominated by a strong Lees McRae group of 4. Those who had the power threshold really succeeded this weekend, while other riders were just unable to hold on. We saw many emerging stars in the peloton across the board. Keep an eye out for those winners as we get closer to conference. They’ll probably be good wheels to follow. I know I’ll need all the help I can get.

Christian and Jackson working together impeccably to catch the chase.

This article is also featured on CCN’s website here.

Cool New Things: Merch and the Seminole Classic

Contrary to last weekend’s spectacular attendance by Georgia Tech at UF, only 4 GT riders were able to attend this weekend in Monticello for the Florida State cycling hosted Seminole Classic, but what lacked in numbers was surely made up for in points, with riders placing top 10 in both mass start races on Saturday and Sunday.

Somewhat backwards, Saturday began with individual and team time trials preceding the road races. The Spanish moss on the trees of northern Florida donated a serene feeling to the otherwise brutal racing that followed. Tech fared well in its TTT, keeping all 4 riders at the finish (results pending; come on SECCC!). The C’s road race began at 11 am, with Joshua Longenecker and Ben McAdoo representing Tech in the moderately sized field. For both the second race of their careers, they placed well in 6th and 8th place (respectively) in the final bunched sprint of the 28 mile race. The Men’s B field saw Sean Carroll and Christian DiCenso pulling hard throughout the 40 miles of their race. With individual breakaways out front at the end, the bunched sprint competed for 4th place, with DiCenso clinching 8th.

Sunday, to the disdain of everyone, awoke with a nipple hardening 28 degrees. The criterium ran clockwise around a fast and technical course in beautiful and quaint downtown Monticello and featured 4 characteristic turns: 1) wide sweeper through the central town roundabout 2) sharp right hander with an inside curb into a fast downhill 3) uphill right hander with bumpy asphalt buckling (good for getting some air) 4) slow and tight right hander into finishing straight. The cold however, was the most influential factor. Nearly half the field of the C’s race dropped out from the chill or from falling off the pack. Longenecker and McAdoo fought through the challenging conditions, scoffing at those who had given in. Longenecker had a fantastic race, finishing 2nd to a Kings College rider after pulling hard in a small breakaway in the final lap. Warming, the Men’s B race was underway. For 45 minutes, the group remained mostly bunched, with only one to three man breakaways that were caught by the group. Lees-McRae attacked hard and often however, and on the final lap, their man was able to hold a small gap for first. DiCenso sprinted in front of the group, nabbing 4th out of a cold, snot-faced and tired field.

See more photos from the weekend at Joshua Longenecker Photography and the GT Cycling Facebook page.


UF Swamp Classic: Crits on Crits

This weekend, February 4th and 5th, saw a grand total of 11 Georgia Tech riders compete in Team Florida’s Swamp Classic. With the weather a balmy 75 degrees all weekend, it was hardly a struggle for anyone to get motivated and stay warm in the early mornings.

The golden Florida sun pours down on turns 1 & 2 of the Sunday Crit.

Saturday registration troubles aside, the Cat C Men’s race at the Gainesville Raceway (same location as last year’s rainy Sunday Crit) went off a little after 8:30am with all 8 C riders at the start, more or less ready to go. Lasting only 25 minutes, Georgia Tech was able to secure points in all three prime laps and a top finish by Joshua Longenecker in 5th place out of nearly 50 riders. Jack Heberton, Jackson Esoda and Sean Carroll represented in the Men’s B race, showing poise in the smaller but skilled pack. Jack Heberton worked hard midway through to get a 1st place prime and Jackson Esoda came through strong on the final lap to string out the pack in an effort to set up Jack for a finishing sprint. Final places will be updated as they come through.

Men's B Saturday Crit at The Gainesville Raceway

After a long break, the Team Time Trial began just before dark at 6pm on a 7 mile strip of road (originally set to be 10 miles) in front of the the Raceway. Tech entered 3 teams, with all 11 riders participating. Results still pending, we speculate that Tech’s C1 team (J. Longenecker, Nathaniel Rowe, Chris Stout, Ben McAdoo) beat out our B group (Jackson Esoda, Jack Heberton, Christian DiCenso, Sean Carroll) with a time around 16:20. Not cool guys. Team Hairy Legs (Andrew Gifford, Phillip Dewire, Conrad Lawson) went hard in their first ever road race, finishing strong with energy to spare.

Sunday, again, yielded wonderful weather for the second crit, located in the heart of downtown Gainesville. The course was a classic 4 corner criterium; last used in 2010, it featured a rough cobble section along turns 1 and 2, a long downhill straight into a big sweeping turn 3 and 4 with a sprint-worthy uphill finish. The Men’s C race was underway again at 8:30 am. Georgia Tech was able to nab points in two of the three primes, with Tech riders continually working the front of the large group. Riders Christian DiCenso and Joshua Longenecker were able to secure 5th and 6th place respectively in the end uphill sprint. With the weather warming up, the Men’s B race was underway. Sean Carroll grabbed a 1st place prime lap like he was getting paid and continued to work hard for sprinter Jack Heberton, who after J. Esoda’s scorching lap-and-a-half pull to string out the group, finished 3rd, edging out a Cumberland rider with ease.

Jack Heberton sprinting. Fastly.

Check out pictures from the Men’s B races here at Joshua Longenecker’s photography page and even more photos the GT Cycling Facebook.

Keep an eye on the website for results as they arrive later this week. They can also be found on SECCC.net