Race Report: 2016 Morgantown Cat 5 Road Race
This was a wild one!
Frank Shewmaker and I lined up with about 30+ guys for the Category 5 race (50 miles). It started out pretty relaxed as the climbs started coming I thought it would be a good idea to start testing the field. So on the second real climb (about 12 miles in) I started to pull away and Frank came with me. We seemed to have a decent gap as we were barrelling down the descents. Then catastrophe struck! GRAVEL!
In nearly 2.5 hours of racing I think I spent a total of about 10 seconds at the front! I’m glad to get the win, but the team made it possible. - Frank Shewmaker
Frank, just ahead of me slid out. I slid out too and so did two other riders. As we gathered ourselves the peloton went whooshing by. I was pretty scraped up but Frank, the thoughtful son of the south he is, wore his arm-warmers and looked pretty good. The bikes were also in pristine “Frank condition”, so we were like “Let’s do this”! The peloton was out of sight as we got back on our bikes, but the two of us and one other rider with long ginger hair put in some hard turns and caught up to a chasing group that humorously included a tandem bicycle (which the judge specifically said we could draft off prior to the race). So we were on the tandem bike’s wheel as these two tandem riders slammed away at the pedals. Eventually, we saw the peloton in the distance. Frank, the long-haired ginger and myself put in some more hard efforts (after thanking the tandem guys) and caught on to the tail of the peloton. This all happened at the flattest, supposedly most relaxed part of the race… not for the Artemisans!
We were finally back in the peloton and some of the riders looked at me and Frank like they saw a ghost! We approached the biggest climbs of the race and I thought, maybe if I go full mountain goat, I can break up this race (so I attacked twice on the two biggest hills); looking back at the Strava, it looks like it helped break things up a bit. By this point my legs were starting to hint at cramping, not a great sign considering we were only half way through the race. I took on board a gel and my knock-off Aldi Gatorade to fight off the cramps. Frank, unlike yours truly, showed why he has the wisdom of a physician: as he smartly hung with the lead group and let others do the chasing type work.
The subsequent climbs came and went and the peloton thinned. My calves and right thigh were still flirting with cramping up, but it was less subtle than before. As we hit the last climb, I was doing my best to climb and stave off the cramps. Each time I made it to a descent it was a great relief.
Frank and I had made it to a few kms to go and we were both in the lead group. I told Frank that I was probably going to cramp, so he shouldn’t worry about me, just that he should go go go!
With about 2.5km to go, this story gets weirder. A bull (as in “Toro Toro”) crossed the road. Thank god Artemis wears purple, not RED! Our lives were spared a second time!
The lead group picked up speed as the kms melted away. It was going to be a slightly uphill bunch finish. My legs were no longer flirting with disaster, so I hung on to Frank’s wheel and the good doctor peddled away. As we were going up the last ascent, Frank yelled to our fellow racers “Coming through the middle!” and a he shot like a bullet through the lead group to victory. Yours truly was able to nab 4th place on the podium.
Two Artemisans on the podium, one crazy race. a great day. Special thanks to Dave and Cheryl whose video confirmed our placing when the judges were unsure.