Bear Mountain Classic 45+ First Person Recount

The 45+ race at Bear Mountain was recounted in our weekly race report.  Here is a great first person blow by blow account of the race by our State Champion Dave Kahl!

So this was not really expected. Last year, I surprised myself by winning the NJ State Championship Jersey for the 45+ Road Race. This year, I had marked the race to defend the title as a goal, but with the race being at Bear Mountain, I had a lot of doubt knowing that the real climbers would be there.

The day before a friend said it was going to cold and raining for the race, and I told him, “the wetter and nastier the better”. I didn’t realize until the race began that my wish would come true.

After a “neutral start” down the 50-mph downhill, the race begins up Tiorati Brook Road. Some of the top guys went to the front and set an uncomfortable, but not impossible pace. The first of four laps on the course went by pretty fast, and at the beginning of the second climb up Tiorati, an attack began but was pulled in. I made sure to keep myself posted in the top 3-6 guys at all points of the race waiting for a move that looked like it may “go”.

Half-way through the second lap, a few guys attacked, and a small break began. When a good friend and fellow mountain-biker, Frank O’Reilly went, I knew that the winning move was going up the road. Frank had won the race in 2017.

Soon after that, another strong rider attacked, and when I noticed a dominant team not chasing, I thought that they may be settling the pace down to protect their riders up the road. With that in mind, and also thinking that one of the riders in the break was from NJ, I rolled off of the front in a big gear and did a bit of a diesel “attack”.

The main field let me go, and soon I had a gap and was seeing the distance close on some of the other chasers to the break. Very soon after that, I was joined by another friend, and cyclocross guru, Eric Schlauch. Eric caught me with a head of steam, and motioned me to his wheel, which I was happy to tuck behind. For the next few minutes we worked together to chase to the break, swapping the work and efforts.

As we began the third lap, and hit the downhill to Tiorati climb again, we caught another chaser from New York. Without Eric’s work together, I would have never caught this new member of our chase group. The new guy set another uncomfortable pace up the climb and I think our third lap up was the fastest of my four laps! I did all I could to follow that wheel and soon we began to close in on the main break.

By the top of the climb, we caught on, unfortunately with one less rider, as my initial chase partner dropped off at some point on the hill. Now with about seven of us, we headed back down Seven Lakes Drive. I did my best “Lighty” impression as I attempted to organize our crew, telling them to rotate with short pulls and then off. I did the first one, and we all settled in with most riders taking their turns. We split up a bit on the climbs, but the group started rotations again soon after in each section.

As we started the final lap, I realized too late (not that it mattered because he was up by over a minute) that there was actually one rider up the road ahead of us. Then it really began to pour! And if I didn’t mention it, the temperature was in the low 40’s. While it had rained for basically the entire race, now it was REALLY raining.

During the race, I had dropped one gel, shuttled my extra water on the last lap, and now had enough drink to get to the finish with potentially enough fuel in me to finish strong. Everyone continued to work together, and while I had the nutrition in my bottles, my hands and/or forearms could not muster enough contracting power to get more than a trickle out of the bottle. It was pretty cold, and I was a bit underdressed…set up to race hard in bib shorts, a summer jersey and arm-warmers.

The final attacks came as expected, and as we approached the finish line, my body did not cooperate with the intentions of my mind. It did, but in slow motion detail, and not as much power as necessary. Crazy what the lack of an extra 6 ounces of liquid can do at the end of a 2.5+ hour effort!

Still, I rolled in…5th  Place over-all in the combined 35+ and 45+ field, 4th Place in the 45+ race, and much to my surprise, 1st Place from New Jersey to become the “repeat” New Jersey State Road Champion in the 45+ division.

Again, definitely not expected…but super happy to double up with Coach, Teammate, Best-Friend and mentor, Larry Towner…who also won his race in the 55+ field.

A big thanks to Larry Towner, Team ProPower/Cycle Solutions, the entire Tuesday Scotty Ride Crew, and to Rich Carolan for his support of the team, making it possible to bring together such a great group of guys and friends.