It’s July and that can only mean one thing – bicycle racing! Central Pennsylvania is home to races in both Brockway and Clearfield, and I think there’s a big race in France, although I couldn’t tell you anything about it because the news just focuses on doping scandals these days. So I’ll stick with what I know…

I needed a chance to test my legs before the upcoming Tour de Susquehanna, and the (recently re-named) Le Tour de Brockway seemed like the perfect opportunity. I was excited for this year’s race (even though they raised the entry fee) due to a totally new course! A few years back they had a nice course, but recent years left something to be desired with their out-and-back route.

(Did I mention the out-and-back route led to people cheating? Yeah, it happens. It’s unfortunate when competitors at a local bike race cheat, considering the $0 grand prize.)

Onto a more positive note… the new course was a 15.5 mile loop on some very nice, backcountry roads. It even started with a “peloton parade” through downtown Brockway. Too bad the spectators for the annual 4th of July parade weren’t yet lining the streets at 10:30 AM!

I thought I was ready for the course thanks to my use of Google’s satellites, but it turns out the internet is no substitute for a proper pre-ride of the course! Things are different when you’re actually out there, especially when everyone else is beside you.

riding through downtown brockway

So let’s talk about the race itself…

We all lined up at the start/finish behind our police escort for the “controlled start.” The plan was to take it easy as we rolled through downtown and then the race would get going once we hit the highway. I’m not sure if it was the intense competition between the Hollyloft and Spokes-n-Skis teams or Shane Gouldthread out front on his mountain bike, but we were moving pretty quick as soon as the gun fired!

Then the pace really heated up once we passed Sheetz and got onto Route 219. I noticed a couple attacks, but I decided to just stay in the pack a while, but I got bored real fast. So I decided to follow this one guy out front. I got to actually see some of the road ahead but still had a draft, so I rode there for a bit until the pack swallowed us back in.

Soon enough we were on the twisty back roads and it was time for more frequent attacks. Every so often someone jetted out front, but every move was immediately countered by a simultaneous, almost orchestrated move by the Spokes-n-Skis team. They did a good job of keeping things together, but with the pack being a little too big, I was anxious for something to happen.

Next thing I knew there was a sharp right turn that took us up a fairly steep, twisty hill. It wasn’t massive, but I wasn’t ready for it at all. I jumped out of the pack and watched some green jerseys disappear around the turns as I struggled to keep moving. (I guess some Hollyloft guys were already out of sight.)

A few guys passed me, so I tried to catch them but everyone kept slipping away. Then I saw a group coming behind me so I decided to rest for a couple seconds and latch on to them. Those few seconds of rest paid off because I was able to tuck into this group and get situated again.

By this time we were halfway through the race, but just on #2 or #3 of the course’s 7 hill climbs. We rode in a group the rest of the race, which was either up or down for a few miles. We kept seeing glimpses of the front groups, but they were just far enough ahead that no one could catch them.

From that point on, I just stayed calm and tried to hold my position. We only had two small climbs and then a long downhill stretch to the finish. It was pretty uneventful for us as we careening through a few downhill twists and hit the big straightaway, where we could see the winners. I had two guys with me (one being Shane) and no one else close enough, so I just went hard to try to better my time.

I crossed the line with no pressure for a sprint, but Shane wasn’t far behind me. I think my time was about 41:25, roughly two minutes behind the winner.

It was good to be done, but after getting dropped on that first hill, I was fairly disappointed with the day’s outcome. It wasn’t until later that I realized all the good things that happened.

First, it didn’t storm or even rain, and the weather was beautiful. The forecast said hot and humid with afternoon thunderstorms, but the weather seemed fairly cool and pleasant. Second, the course was amazing. I would gladly go for a joy ride on those roads sometime. Third, I got to see my fellow racers I haven’t seen in probably an entire year. And last but not least, I got a nice blue race t-shirt in size medium! (A lot of races only offer size large shirts!)

mike yankevich gets 4th

I also met some relatives from Texas who happened to be in the area and signed-up for the exact same bike race, but that’s a whole other story…

I ended up in 15th place overall, but all I really wanted was a better idea of what might happen in the Tour de Susquehanna, and I certainly got that. (While I’m at it, a shout out to Mike Yankevich who placed 4th overall!)

Now I’ll just sit back and relax while checking the race results online.

P.S. Wondering why there’s no picture of me crossing the finish line, even though my mom was there taking pictures? As I was coming up to the line, a car decided to pull up beside me. So there was me on the timing mat, then a car sneaking through, then my mom on the other side of the car. Talk about bad timing! I wish she had taken a picture of the car so I could put it up here for public humiliation. I mean, who drives through the middle of a bike race, let alone across the finish line?

You may also like

Leave a Reply