Kristin Lotito's Bear Race Report Traditionally Bear has been a really tough course for me, so my goal for this year's race was just to hang on a bit longer than in the past, and if possible, help out my teammates. Our race got off nicely with a handful of riders at the front pulling hard, which kept the field a bit strung out and feeling safer. I had my two teammates, Raquel and Kate, close by. With both of their help, I had nice position heading into the first climb.
As the climb got underway riders were popping off the back, and when I looked ahead I saw a small gap start to form with 6 to 8 riders breaking away. Anneliese Haines from NY Velocity was one of the riders inching off the front, so I had a very good idea that this group, despite forming early in the race, was going to stay away. I jumped on to this group before they got too far away, hoping that my legs would get me up the rest of the hill still in contact. I succeeded and we were on our way, but I didn't know what to expect the next time around.
Most of us worked to keep the break away, trying to drop the couple of riders that weren't working. Anneliese put in some hard attacks to get away solo and really drove the pace up the hill the next time around along with two other very strong non-CRCA girls. This dropped a couple riders from our group and we remained a group of 6 heading into the final kilometers. I didn't have the best gearing for a downhill sprint, so I thought that the situation called for something a little different. Aimee Layton, another CRCA rider and an excellent sprinter, was on my wheel and I knew that meant trouble for me. I thought that if I could jump a little early I could time it just right to surprise her and get a gap but not to give her enough road to come around me with a bigger gear. Luckily I pulled it off, but it was a close one!
Chris Gurr Bear Cat 3 race report
The morning of the race I awoke to heavy rain and teammates’ emails that they were bailing. I then sat down to watch the Giro d”Italia. I wasn't really on the fence anyway, but after watching Contador storm Mt Etna like he had lava in his legs, there was no question that I was going to race. Awesome! I get to go do that now!
I arrived at the course and there was fog everywhere. Bear Mountain was totally socked in and you couldn't see 150 feet in front of you. But no rain. The course was different from any I'd done here. Last year was similar in that Tiorati was shut down, but the loop was longer last year with the turnaround all the way at the lake where you made the turn after Tiorati. This course looped back at the first roundabout. The result was that we didn't have to do that flat section along the lakes. It was either up or down the whole time! In fact this course was harder than the regular one because the climb is steeper and you don't get to recover on that flat section along the lakes.
It was a combined field, with the 35+ 1-3's and then the Cat 3's, split about equally. We rolled out at a nice pace, went around the roundabout. There was fog everywhere. It was really bizarre. When we passed by the finish, you couldn't see the line from the 200m to go sign. It was like riding into an abyss. Heading into the big descent, I knew that I didn't want to be in the back of the field at the 180' turn at the end of a 45mph downhill because it would require serious effort to make up that ground on the climb. I moved up, but was only around 20th wheel or so. Not great but not too bad
We started climbing and I was happy to feel good legs. The field was really stretching out on the first climb, much more than I expected and much more than last Spring. But that's what happens when you have Roger Apsholm in your field destroying it at the front! The warning signs were clear as I was passing guys breathing really hard - on the first climb of the day. The peloton was going to shatter and I better give it a huge effort or get stuck in a slow group. My legs were responding nicely and I had a good rhythm. The climb went up steep, then flattened out, then went up again in a second long pitch. You couldn't see 150 feet in front of you, and you definitely couldn't see the top. Roger and four others had taken off into the fog. There was a group of about ten in front of me when i topped out, right on Kevin Rooney's wheel. I was hurting, but Kevin and I were able to work to catch the group within about a mile. More guys joined and we had a group of about 20 some. Erik Post was the only BH rider in my group. I only saw 6 or 7 other Cat 3's with us.
We were pacelining for a bit, but then after I saw that I was in a sizeable group and no climbs ahead, I went to the back to sit in. Right before the turnaround we saw Roger Apsholm and three other guys coming back the other way. Roger was pulling, looking like he was killing it. An 18 year old Cat 3 had made Roger's group. After we roundabouted I saw the third chase group, about the same size as ours, at least 50 seconds back.
On the 2nd of 3 trips up the climb, my climbing legs were still there. I went to the front alongside Kevin Rooney, remembering the king of the mountains battle I had with him at Connecticut stage race last year. He looked solid. Our group only lost five guys or so though by the top. Rooney was doing a lot of work. After topping out, I was catching a lot of draft off of big Erik Post.
The bell lap started with the big descent then climb. By this time it was only five 3's and 15 35+ 1-3's left in our group. With that type of horsepower, I just focused on not getting dropped on the climb. It was really hard, especially the last pitch. I was staying in contact. It was full suffering mode, but seriously tempered by the satisfaction of riding in a small group at Bear Mountain and that if I hung on I was going to be in the money, probably deep into the money. There were a number of attacks on the false flat after the climb, and the race was getting really hard. I struggled to close on a few, but then fortunately the road went downhill some and I got some relief. Around the last roundabout, the attacking started in earnest. My legs were showing preludes to cramping. Before the turn onto Lake Welch and the last 1/4 mile hill, two Cat 3's had attacked and were away. They were looking pretty strong, but I thought it was not a good tactical move to attack a group of 10 Cat 2's so I sat on and didn't chase. I was hurting big time on that 1/4 mile hill, reduced again to the now familiar mantra of "just don't lose that wheel, just don't lose that wheel." I think 20 more seconds of that hill and that would have been the end of me! The top came just in time though. The attacking Cat 3's were brought back and one of them went straight out the back. What a dumb move on his part. We were three Cat 3's left and probably nine Cat 2's on the 3 mile run in to the finish. It was all I could do to hang on to the wheel in front of me. With about a mile to go, one of the 3's gave me a good stare to see how I was doing. With 1k to go, we were just rocketing downhill, incredible speed. I tried to find Post's wheel but lost it. We were nuking into the sprint so much so that I had spun out my compact 50/12. I tried to stay on wheels, but didn't have any pop left to get out of the saddle to sprint. I think about 7 of the 2's finished in front of me, including Post and Rooney, but I beat the other Cat 3's. The 18 year old Cat 3 was gapped by Apsholm, but was still two minutes in front of our group. That put me at second place amongst the Cat 3’s.