(Thanks to Gerald Drummond for his report on the 2012 Hell’s Kitchen Road Bike Race and congratulations on his win.)
My first road race turned out to be an awesome one. The temperature was perfect, but there was a pretty strong headwind from the south. In the 32.5 mile, Cat 5 34 and Under group, I had 2 teammates (Jonathan Jenkins and Colby Webb). During staging we checked out the competition and devised a plan. They determined that I was the best climber of the 3 of us and decided to try and help me win the King of the Mountain title and prime.
The race started and I made sure I got a good position at the front of the group. Around a mile into the race a CARVE Team rider made an attack and tried to get some distance on us. The wind really kept him from gaining much ground though and eventually the entire peloton caught back up to him. We all settled back into a good pace. Colby and I made it to the front and the wind was really working against us. When the first climb came up I attacked hoping to gain some ground. Another CARVE rider chased after me and eventually everyone else caught up. My legs were tired after a week of hard training so I decided to save them for the harder parts of the race.
After crossing a section of gravel we all knew that the Hell’s Kitchen climb was about to start. Everyone started scrambling a little bit to get to the front. 3 guys from “Team Spam” attacked and I latched on the one of their wheels and we started sprinting up the climb. With some clever team strategy, they kept me from passing and prevented me from becoming King of the Mountain. I didn’t let that disappointment phase me, I wanted to win. So I caught back up to them and once again they tried to drop me (unsuccessfully this time), and eventually we all started working together, taking turns pulling. We got into a groove and with a decent tailwind we started flying down hills, sprinting up climbs and passing riders in other categories. Around 6 miles from the finish we dropped one of the Spam guys. The 3 of us kept pushing on into the strong headwind.
After passing a large group of women, another Spam guy was dropped. For the last 3(?)miles, it was one on one. We took turns doing one minute pulls, and eventually made it back to Hell’s Kitchen for the final climb of the race. I pulled up beside my opponent and settled in for the 1.2 mile climb. I tried to break away about half way up but he stayed right on my wheel. My legs were about to give out after the hard week of training I had just been through and when Chad tried to break away around the last corner I thought it was over. Somehow I found the last bit of energy to catch up, pass him on the left, and win the race with a 2 second gap. Crossing the line was an amazing feeling. I couldn’t believe that I had one my first race and couldn’t have been happier. My training really paid off. The day was even better witnessing Jake’s Cat 4 victory. It was a great day for me personally and a great day for Team Athlete Forward. Thanks to all my teammates for the support, Snapple for putting on a great event, and Team Spam for the challenge. Hope this is the first of many great races to come.
Gerald is an 18 year old from a bike riding family who’s been riding “seriously” for 3 years. He can often be seen at mountain bike races throughout the state. All photography above is by his Grandfather, James Glenn.