I don't think that Bear Mountain will forgive me. When I first saw the profile of the race course through Harriman State Park (not actually all that close to Bear Mountain), I thought, "It looks pleasant, but wouldn't it be nicer if it actually had a hill or two?" When I raced it, that long, slow drag up the Tiorati climb - never particularly steep, but long enough to hurt - was kind enough to point out the error of my ways. If it wasn't clear the first time, it was more than obvious the fourth time, and I finished the race cramping badly, albeit with a decent result. It was good enough to give me some confidence for the fall incarnation of the race, and I figured that the uphill finish this time around would suit me.
The race's formal name is the Nancy Morgenstern Memorial Race, named for a local racer who died on 9/11, but I had been referring to it as Revenge of Bear Mountain. Foreshadowing? I guess that race wasn't done surprising me. Unlike the spring's social pace for the first half (or more) of the race, this weekend's race was hard from the gun and we climbed Tiorati Book Road really fast. It felt really fast, anyway. Maybe I'm not in top form. I don't care. It was fast and hard. Struggling to close gaps only ten miles into a 56 mile race? That's not good.
The second time up it we caught the Masters' field, which should be an indication that we were moving pretty quickly. Unfortunately, the overtake was a complete mess, and I wound up getting stuck behind Masters and follow vehicles as the fronts of the fields mixed and ten or so 4 riders went up the road with who-knows-how-many Masters riders. Trying to find another match to light to jump up the rest of the hill, I was nearly run off the road by a support vehicle (not to mention the two SUVs behind it, crawling up the hill), and had to settle for settling into a rotation with four or five other riders who were highly motivated by the extent to which they were pissed off at the mess that knocked them away from the front of the race.
We were almost back on when, flying through a roundabout, we all had to grab brakes and adjust our arcs to avoid a towncar that marshalls hadn't bothered to stop. There are only so many times you can be demoralized, and if they all come in the span of a few miles of very hard riding, well, their effect is exponential. When we got to the feed zone, I was frustrated, and I threw in the towel shortly thereafter (but not before grimacing, or growling, or something, for the photographer...). If I had a more thoroughly competitive spirit, I'd even have been thoroughly pissed off.
Imagine how I feel when I see the results and realize that one of my companions in the chase managed 10th place. And me thinking that half the field was still up the road. I shouldn't have dropped out. Live and learn.
It's an interesting welcome to the tail end of the season.