First off, big thanks to my HUP United teammates who treated me like an elite racer on my trip. They were wonderful hosts and my experience in the races were overshadowed by their generosity.
Gloucester is a big stage and even though the weather was unseasonally warm (60's/70's during the day) and the course was fast and dry, the racing was intense. My experience began on a good footing Friday when Delta did not charge me for my bike and then put me into first class. Pierre Vanden Borre picked me up at the airport and we hung out in his studio in the South end(?) neighborhood of Boston as I rebuilt my bike.
The next day after a pastry stop, we headed up to Glooucester. The town is very scenic and beautiful, projecting out into Gloucester bay, full of sail boats and the occasional bouy call. The venue was right on the water and the parking lot was packed. The course started at the bottom of a paved hill and then went into a primarily grassy course with segments of crushed gravel, sand and the 2 barrier run-up. The sand pit gave me fits as I watched others ride it. They began roto-tilling it between races.
Our race staged at 1pm and we had over 100 racers. there were about 18 call-ups which sucked because it meant I would start even further back. Yasushi and Pierre told me about a hole that opens up on the right going up the hill that takes a little longer to get to but puts you in a great position once the road ends. At the gun I must have made up 15 spots here alone. There were a lot of knuckleheads on the first lap. Once you left the pavement it was dirt and this caused a lot of dust which caused the knuckleheads going to fast to crash. I think there were 3 crashes in the first 3rd of the course but I stayed out of the way. As the laps went on I felt very good and began picking folks off. My goal was the top 20 and I tried to hammer it up that paved hill every lap. I was outsprinted ot the line by another guy but was happy with 18th. I think everyone was actually given a placing because one rider was DQ'd for unsportsmanlike sprinting.
We hung around and watched the PRO race and it was impressive. Jesse Anthony was racing on a broken wrist and it did not seem to stop him much. Tim Johnson and Ryan Trebon eventually got separation and then Trebon lowered the boom to win the race.
I stayed with Yashsuhi and his girlfriend Meg in Cambridge right near the Harvard campus and square. It is a wonderful area and they were great hosts. I ventured out to Harvard Square to look around and eat and it reminded me of Georgetown in DC. The next day he dropped me off at Scott Rosenthal's place in Jamacia Plain. He and his wife Hillary had a very nice 1900's house and we stashed the stuff and went up to the race.
Race two had an additional obstacle which was a new run-up mowed into a hill directly up from the harbor. It was steep and loose dirt but nothing out of the ordinary from our races in the SE. During the race I employed the same tactics to move up but it seemed that after getting to 16th the fitness of the riders were better so i swapped back and forth with a few racers until the last lap. Near the beer garden on a dirt hill I dropped my chain and lost around 10 seconds. Four racers passed me and I was able to catch up to 3 of them on the hill to the finish. The sprint was a 18 second duration and they had better finishing speed than me. Taking 21st was not too bad though and with all of the call-ups I was pretty happy.
The next day Scott and I took an easy conversational ride through Jamacia Plain, Brookline, New ton and over near Boston College. We stopped for pastry and coffee on the way back and then I had to break down the bike and head home.
What a great trip and I was first class on the way home too. If I can somehow swing it, I would love to go back next year. It was also great to meet 20 or so teammates at the race and they were all very nice guys.
Now I have a 2 week hiatus until Conyers and I am pumped for that.