Submitted by Hank Pfeifle
VINI, VIDI, VICI – That was the succinct yet powerful message Caesar sent back to Rome in 47 BC describing his efforts against King Pharnaces during his campaign in Pontus (old kingdom on the south shore of the Black Sea). I too, as the lone OA/CM representative, wanted to send that message from Tokenoke to my fellow 50+ year olds racers around New England. This coming in 8th, 24th, 35th was getting old. But the less than stellar results were all in preparation for Tokenoke, which served up a perfect race course for me – 2 x 22 miles around a reservoir with 4400’ of climbing highlighted by two 2 mile long climbs on the incoming 12 miles of the course. The last 2 mile climb was up to the finish. The climb was not that steep but it started with one mile of very straight road at a consistent 6%. Some can find that seeing 5 minutes into the future with nothing but quad pain to be discouraging. I had toiled on the long climbs of Europe, practiced my break-away jumps and speed at Norwell and Concord, and suffered behind Joe Lynch at the Maine TTT. It was now time to put it all together at Tokenoke.
60 of us lined up and were soon off down the mostly descending initial 10 miles of the course. Across the flat dam at the bottom of the reservoir, and then almost immediately a right hand turn onto the first, relatively short, climb. Three guys were off the front (trying to get a head start on the climbing), so I quickly solo’d up to them and then through them. I had climbing business on my mind. No sissy compact gearing on the Cervelo. This was a 42 tooth high octane wattage throwdown. As hoped, nine more guys bridged to me and they included all the consistently strong guys – John Funk, Kevin Moser, Jerry Clapper, Bill Thompson, Rick Sorenson, Bob Roldan plus some guys from NY. Onto the first two mile climb we went and a pattern started to emerge – I was doing most of the work! Yeah, 14 miles into the race. I’ve had enough of that BS over the course of many races and this time it put the anger in my belly. I drifted to the side of the paceline like an X15 dropping from the mother ship and, like the X15, I exploded away from the group. I peeked under my armpit and saw that they were all still riding with their hands on top of the handlebars. Perfect. My magnificently muscled legs spun to life and whirled the cranks into a delirium of speed. Sonically I was soon 30 seconds ahead down the road. Now I had 30 miles to make good.
On an escape it is important to know the dynamics of chase group psychology. The most important thing to understand is that everyone in the group wants someone else to do the work. That reluctance for each individual to step up and commit to the chase offers many micro (sometimes macro) pauses in the group’s speed. Meanwhile, the individual escapee is in full time committed TT mode and consistently pushing the pace. Those group micro pauses allow the escapee to accumulate further distance from the chase. I gave full effort up each climb (I know that gained me time), and I hammered the headwinds knowing that they would silently be arguing among themselves as to who would sacrifice their precious energy and lead into the wind.
I hit the last climb with a minute lead and there was no way I was going to relinquish that. Or was there? Suddenly the motorcycle that had stayed with the chase group was at my side. W-T-F? I was going fast. Could they be telescoping up to me? I looked back. Uh-oh. Out of the saddle sprang I. More work to do. Mercifully the road tilts down with 1k to go. Up into the 53 and out of the saddle again. Then full on go to the line … VICI !! Yeah, vini, vidi, vici – I came. I saw. I concurred. It’s good to win every now and then.