It’s a blog race report! Everyone’s favorite way to relive a criterium if it was 2002. Which, by the way, is the last time I won a criterium. So that’s how crazy it is that I won the last race in the New England Crit Week race series, the Greenfield Criterium. It doesn’t make any sense and if you were on the ground watching the race, it is very likely you didn’t know what had happened either. The race was bonkers and thus it deserves a story.
Typically the way the Velocio Northeast team wins a race is that Connor Jennings starts training in May and by August he is unbeatable and gets a win before the season ends. This year, we decided to open the account early. It only took 8 guys in full Velocio Concept kit doing everything perfectly—plus a giant helping of luck—to do what Connor will do solo in a month.
As part of our preparation to win in July I decided to get a GI bug that would blow me out for Gnar Weasels, Fitchburg, and Exeter. So instead of being off work with sick time, I got to use vacation time because it was our family vacation! Anyway, that left me well rested and ready to race as well as give said GI bug to my wife for her Birthday. I am very generous. That has nothing to do with the race but I thought I would share it with you like I share my diseases.
The morning of the race I packed up the kids and brought them to a triathlon my wife was doing. While Elizabeth raced, I was sitting on the beach watching the kids play when the race promoter walked by and started talking to a friend about past fast guys that used to do the race. He looked right at me and said “What ever happened to Kevin Bouchard-Hall?” I said “That’s me! I do bike races now!” I told him I was racing later today and he wished me luck. I also let him know I really enjoy racing with my team but there isn’t the slightest chance that I could do well. He looked at me like I was crazy. Why would I do a bike race I can’t win when I could possibly win his triathlon?
Greenfield is a race I really enjoy. I only did it once before, and it poured, like really poured, and I crashed out on literally the first lap after the free lap rule ended. But the town, course, and promoters are everything that’s great about local racing. Feels like coming home. Last year I rolled up late and started last row. It took me half the race to make it to the front. This year I rolled up second row after this guy got a call up:
I treated the start like a cyclocross race and got clipped in as fast as I could and moved to the front. I don’t trust my pack skills and Zwift hasn’t enabled turning yet so I was prepared to be a sketch-fest anchorman in the corners. This year however, I have 28c Specialized tubeless tires on wide NEXT Xplor rims and I actually felt great cornering. Riding a crit is substantially easier when you never have to touch your brakes. I should try that in cross this year.
Last year I was in a move with AJ Moran and he yelled at me “TRUST YOUR GEAR” as I kept gapping myself off on corners 1 and 4. This year, he commented on my improved cornering after the race. It made me feel good. Which perhaps evens out what Carlo Quicho said to me at the start of the race.
Quotes from Greenfield as Good Omens staring AJ Moran and Carlo Quicho:
So I started up front, learned to corner, and I felt great. I stayed top-10 wheels at all times as the race started fast and stayed fast. Every time I looked back there were splits forming in the pack. Teammates Tucker Wetmore and Matt Curbeau were trading blows and after 9 laps we had a 20 man split off the front of the field. I wouldn’t say it was at all cohesive, but there were so many people to pull or jump it kept the pace high. It was a disorganized ball of speed. Finally there was a New England Crit Week point sprint and Kevin Goguen, Curtis White, Danny Estevez, and Travis Wold went for the points off of my wheel. I kept them in my sights as they sprinted and myself and 2 others jumped them as they regrouped. The three of us—Tate Kokubo, Ethan Call, and myself—drove the pace hard and got a good gap from the break and that put us close to lapping the field. We bridged the final bit to the field in 3 hard laps.
As we caught back onto the field I found my teammates Mike Morse, Preston Buehrer, and Connor Jennings waiting for me. They hit the gas and pulled me right to the front. My thought was that I wanted the pace to stay high because even though I had two teammates in the break behind me, they were coming with almost all of the race favorites. If they never caught we had a top 3 guaranteed, and if they did catch it was like we did nothing with the move. What I didn’t expect was that my teammates would ride so hard they would rip us off the front, with the help of teammate Jake to open the gap and catch out Ethan and Tate. From catch to second breakaway was four laps. It would be another four laps before the rest of the original break would lap the field. By then, I was gone with two teammates and four others and neither of the two others I bridged with.
One of those others was Adam Myerson. He knew he needed to lap the field to get back into contention because he was one of the only favorites that missed the first move and was quick to help organize us. As an aside, the last time I won a crit I was in a break with Adam. It was the 2002 New England Crit Championships at Ninigret. We were teammates and the week prior to that race I was completely useless for the team and Adam was not happy with me. There were words. It was my 2nd year racing and I hadn’t the foggiest what to do. He sent me an email and basically apologized for assuming I knew how to race, and offered to help me learn and that I should join him for Ninigret. I won the race in a solo move out of the break. I still feel like that guy from 2002 who didn’t know what he was doing.
From this point on everyone worked hard in the move, and both Connor and Preston turned themselves inside out. Back in the pack, Jake and Erik Saunders covered everything while the original breakaway tried to figure out what that hell was going on and where I was. Jake Hollenbach after the race said “You guys remember the end of the 3 Amigos – where the whole village dressed as the Amigos and El Guapo and his crew get all flustered and don’t know what to do? Today was like that – Kevin was the Amigos and the rest of us were the villagers running around shooting guns off”. That really summed it up well.
With a few laps to go we finished off lapping the field guaranteeing my victory and ensuring I raced 1 more mile than the pack. Most of the team held back with me and we cross the line in a flying V because The Mighty Ducks is the greatest cycling movie of all time.
I was not the strongest guy in the race, not even close, but I was strong enough to be in the right place enough of the time to get lucky. I also had very savvy teammates to guide me through the pack and put me back off the front and cover anything from the pack after me. Erik who is new to the team and has almost always raced by himself said “It was awesome racing with teammates!”. It really is the best, especially when we are all friends.
Oh, and I realize I am wrong. I actually won a single crit after that 2002 race. A 2004 UVM ECCC race when I smoked Mike Barton in a two up sprint. A month ago our kids did a running race around his house and they each claimed victory over the other. Life’s a crazy thing.
Bike Dork Things: