Words by Greg Whitney. Pictures by Dave Chiu and Matt Roy
The Ride Studio Cafe Racer's had the privilege of receiving an invite to this years Rapha East Coast Gentlemen's Race, hosted at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown, PA. After a week of rain, the prospects of a 70+ degree forecast in rural Pennsylvania had us all very excited.
Teams were seeded according to ability level, so our start time was later in the morning, right after 9am. Each team had 6 members, and in order to be scored your team must finish intact. Representing the Ride Studio Cafe Racers was Dave Chiu, Mike Weiler, Justin Howe, Matt Roy, John Gibbons, and I.
Prior to the start the full team reviewed the courses KoM's and climbing profile. According to the materials, the 135 mile course had approximately 7,500 feet of climbing. Reviewing the course, we were not sure how many dirt and gravel roads would be on this years course, if there were any.
During the pre-race meeting we stressed the importance of constantly eating and drinking. If you saw someone drink, take a sip yourself. Pockets stuffed, bottles filled, we rode down the road to Trexlertown.
The cycling center is a top notch facility -- the 28 degree banked velodrome had everyone a bit jealous.
Five miles into the cue sheet, we turned onto a gravel farm road -- turns out our assumptions were wrong.
Six miles in we hit the first KoM -- since we determined they were based off of one Strava file, I went up the road while everyone else rode piano. Not too long after that, we hit the first serious dirt road climb. We passed a few people who were walking up, while we ground out our easiest gears at a super low cadence. Our aim on the first few climbs was to stay together and avoid blowing anyone up. Mike took the lead on the climb. Keep this in mind for later.
After yet steep dirt road climb we rolled up and down roads exhibiting various states of dirt and pavement. We began to see a few teams, including Pedro's and Rapha Continental. A rolling freight train brought us all together at one point.
We rode with the group a bit, but decided to let people ride away to keep the group rolling together and save our legs for the longer portions. Rolling into Kutztown around mile 39 was the first stop for water. To conserve time we planned on super quick stops -- one person goes in to buy two gallons of water -- and get out as fast as possible. Five minutes max. Adequately fueled and watered, we made it out of town and back into the countryside. We overtook the IF team, and learned they had lost a rider on an earlier descent. While the race was gentlemanly, the roads were still treacherous and we needed to remain attentive.
Near the midway point, our luck began to change.
To be continued...