May 6, 2012

Berkshire Cycling Classic Cyclosportif: May 6, 2012

 

The start, and finish
325 riders, 2 courses: 130K (82 miles) with about 6,050 feet climbing and 100K (64 miles) with about 4580 feet of climbing. Both rides had a 6.5 hour time limit to finish successfully and both were open to recreational riders and licensed amateurs.  The ride is the Berkshire Cycling Classic Sportif, a first-ever event this year, that started and finished in Lenox, MA. In between it followed a beautiful, challenging, course on mostly small rural roads through central and southern Berkshire County, MA. It was the only US qualifier for the UCI World Cycling Tour Finals, to be held in South Africa (the top 3 riders in each category riding the 130 K qualified.) For more info, race results, other good stats, visit their website.




The routes merge
Event organizer Sparta Cycling and its promoters in the Berkshires did a good job of organizing support. The 12 or so towns involved all had police directing traffic and giving cyclists the right of way at virtually every intersection. Volunteers were there too, helping to manage traffic. Signage was clear and thorough, and cracks and potholes in road surfaces outlined in bright spray paint. The rest stops were good (and we cyclists managed to sort it out whether the behind-the-shed open air facilities were a men's room or women's room at any given moment. The lack of restrooms needs attention next year.) Actually, I only stopped at the first, mid-way rest stop, because the second on the 100K course was immediately before the last hard climb and I didn't want to stop. The 130K had a 3rd rest stop, while the routes had diverged. It was super hearing the clapping, bells, whistles, horns and encouragement of local residents! I believe the ride was organized in about 5 months, something of a miracle, so kudos, good job, chapeau, thank you and hooray to all involved.




Erik Zabel
And I get to say that I rode in an event with Erik Zabel, 6-time green jersey winner in the Tour de France. And with Ann Marie Miller, Cat 1 racer and 11-time US National Masters' Champion. And with the other "Cycling Ambassadors," all with amazing racing credentials. Note: I said rode in an event with them, I certainly did not say rode with them! And with cyclists from as far away as South Africa, Europe, Brazil, Panama and Canada. Not to mention all the wonderful local cyclists from the Berkshires, the rest of Massachusetts, and beyond, a few of whom I was lucky to get to meet, and ride with from time to time.



I won't describe the route here, I've done that here in 100K Route, here in On and Off the Route and here in Route 57.





There were some very minor changes to the 100K after my first post, perhaps I'll note them there later. Today, when the road crossed the Appalachian Trail, (hiking route, Maine to Georgia, long) out popped two hikers. Wonder what they thought. Also, It was very cool when the two routes merged back together. Just as I came to that intersection, a bunch from the 130K went by. Sorry for the lousy photo, it was the best I could do to actually get the camera out in time. In all, I didn't take many photos, no surprise there.



Ann Marie Miller
So, how did I do? Well, I am tickled. Finished the 100K in 5 hours, 24 minutes, first in my age group. 4580 feet is a lot of climbing for me, I'm a slow climber, and there were some steep grades. I don't know what sites list grades accurately, so will make do with steep, no percentages. I wanted to break 6 hours, so I'm pleased. Oh yes, truth in advertising, I was also last in my age group. Yes, an age group of one, and the oldest of the 37 women to finish either route. I don't know why more women don't ride this kind of event, but we don't. I could inflict more statistics on you, but won't.  It was a very satisfying day. And I'm not going to ride it again tomorrow.



Next year, if you like beautiful, hilly courses, come join the ride!

14 comments:

  1. Congratulations on what sounds like a fun ride and a great finish. Well done!

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    1. Hi Iron Rider,

      Thanks! It was a fun ride, and they are hoping to repeat it next year. Not really all that far north of Pennsylvania, you know.. ...

      Though it wasn't billed as a race, organizers specifically said it's not a race, the feel was very different than the one, short, brevet I participated in. Definitely more ... like a race!

      Suze

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  2. Suze,

    THANKS for your early support of our event and for coming out and giving it your all yesterday. Looking forward to coming back to Lenox for the 2013 edition.

    Jed Kornbluh
    Sparta Cycling

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  3. Hi Jed,

    Sorry I didn't get to meet you yesterday. I took a look in the crowd for you, but happily there were lots of people there, so no luck spotting you. The event was fabulous ... very glad to have you in the Berkshires and hope to see you next year!

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  4. I was the guy with the microphone and the standard announcer's constant hyperbole. Let's meet up the next time I'm in town. Perhaps you can show us some new roads to add to the route for next year.

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    1. Sure, it would be very fun to meet up and go for a (slow, from your point of view!) spin. Drop me a note if you're back in the area.

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  5. Wonderful results, Suze. I knew you could beat all those others in your age group! So, I guess the question is, have you booked your flight to South Africa yet? I know the feeling of a satisfying race (rarely, but I remember it), so I'm very glad to read that you had one. Training pays off.

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    1. Hi Gerry,

      Thanks ... isn't it amazing the results that can come with age....and the diminishing field! But you, surely, know exactly where any plane I book that crosses an ocean will land. No matter, only participants in the 130K qualified. Seriously though, it was quite fun to be in an event with so many really talented riders. Thanks for your support! Suze

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  6. Fantastic! Congratulations on representing your gender and age with aplomb. One possible explanation for the lack of competition is that "the word was out" concerning your participation and the rest of the field simply gave up hope and didn't register. :) Your public will no longer entertain silly notions such as "I'm a slow climber." Your strong time clearly says otherwise.

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    1. Hi Steve,

      Thanks!! For your encouragement and support ... and very funny, your suggestion that the word was out. Hmmm, is that why we all write these blogs? One of these days you and I will climb the same hill in some event and you will see that I am, for sure and indeed, no questions asked, a slow climber. But stubborn, persistent, and way faster down the other side. And now I'll try to live up to aplomb! Happy pedalling! Suze

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  7. Nicely done!! A full hour under the limit, too. Pretty damn cool for someone of your age group. I noticed, though, that you didn't mention exactly what age group you were referring to. I know, but am not sure your other readers do. It's the "older than your brother by a couple of years age group" if I'm not mistaken. And it is a surprise that you were were the only one in it. You must not have as many people our age up there as we do in South Florida. Maybe next year when word gets around.

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    1. Thanks for posting your comment, anonymous! As always, you are to the point, astute and funny...what could be better? And certainly I bet you're right, there are more of my demographic where you live. Ok, ok, to the point: that age group of mine would be 60-64. Aaargh, there, I said it. In the entire event, there were about 325 participants. All ages: 288 men, 37 women. Ages 60-64: 24 men, 1 woman. 65 and up: 16 men, no women. I don't get it. I don't get any of it. Women are a way higher percentage of the population than that! Perhaps this is fodder for some investigation and a future post.

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  8. Well done, Suze! Sounds like a very tough course and five and a half hours of solid cycling is no mean feat. I think you deserve a day off. It that had been me doing it, then I'd be taking the rest of the month off!

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  9. Hi Steph,

    Thank you! And, I took your advice ... actually, even before you had a chance to give it. So, I am taking not one, but five days off. And that is not just off the bike, I'm not doing much of anything worthy in the way of laundry, housecleaning, gardening, or much else. Go to work, come home, veg out. Of course, I have no llamas, chickens, lambs, sheep, pigs, carp, .... but happily the sky is finally watering the garden and Roy taking care of the greenhouse. Enjoy your spring!

    Suze

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