Submitted by Joseph Reis
Portland Velo Club hosted the annual Yarmouth Clam Festival race on July 18th this summer. There couldn’t have been a better day to hold this mid-summer classic as it was beautiful with warm temps and a clear sky. This was my first time racing in the clammer so I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was that I was extremely excited as this is probably the closest thing I have to a “home race.”
It was nice to see so many riders show up for the men’s P/1/2/3 race, but it was even nicer to see so many fellow PVC and OA/Cyclemania riders come out to drop some watts. Definitely a great feeling to be among so many supportive and familiar faces.
For those who don’t know, the course is a short (under 4 miles) circuit starting and finishing on Main Street in Yarmouth. Interesting features include: rail road/ bridge crossings, five turns ranging from those that you can pedal through to fast and sharp corners on hills, a slight uphill on the back stretch, an interesting downhill, and finally a final wall-type climb before a slight downhill finish. Certainly a fun course for racers and spectators alike.
The race started out at a decent tempo. Being able to start towards the front was a nice change as it allowed me to spend less energy jockeying for position in the first part of the race. There were a few attacks early on, but since the event was so short, nobody was willing to allow any major gaps to form. I took a few digs at the head, but for the most part I just stayed tucked away safely about 15 wheels back. Each lap I tried out different lines coming through the last corner leading to the final climb and finally decided that an outside line was necessary to hit the final wall with enough momentum for a strong sprint.
The action picked up a few laps into the race after a couple local riders made it off the front. This was a dangerous break as a few other very strong riders made the move as well. Team tactics came into full swing here as the blocking began from CCB. It seemed that everyone was content with letting the riders in blue and pink control the race. There were a few attempts to bridge up to the group of 5 (or 6?), but nothing was successful and nobody was willing to work together. For a while, it seemed that this break would stick, but as the finishing lap came closer, a couple riders were dropped from the break. Unfortunately, two of these dropped riders were local. Much credit goes out to those boys who put in that dig; it took a lot of guts.
The pace really picked up on the last lap as the break was within reaching distance. By this point, the adrenaline was pumping and I was looking for wheels to follow. I found my mark and went for it. I put everything I had into following a very strong Team Mountain Khakis rider and was almost able to get to the front while riding his wheel, but the last couple kilometers of a circuit or crit can be so chaotic sometimes and plans don’t always work. I lost his wheel on the downhill leading into the final turn and put my focus towards giving everything left on the hill. I did just this and moved up a few more wheels, but there was still a long downhill sprint to come. I quickly hit my 53×15 junior gearing limit and my cadence sky-rocketed. I was able to move up even closer to the front, but I was too far back for anything special. I rolled across the line for a 15th place finish.
I had been looking for a better finish for my first home race, but I had so much fun just being at such a great local venue that my placing didn’t matter. Hard to be upset when you get to race your bike, especially on such a beautiful day!
Thanks Portland Velo Club for putting on such a spectacular event!