By Hank Pfeifle
Sunday Ron Bourgoin and I traveled to Sutton, MA for the 3rd edition of the Purgatory road race. Actually, we traveled down on Saturday due to the 8:00am 45+ start and stayed at the La Quinta hotel in Auburn where, it turns out, there was plenty more adventure than can be dished out at any ol’ road race. Yes. Our friendly Ron was the first one to breakfast and started chatting it up with the lovely night clerk, breakfast preparer AND dispenser of hotel comings & goings. Yes indeedy. Come to find out, a post wedding party got way out of control with drinking, cavorting (“They brought in hookers from New York!”), noise (”All kinds of complaint calls!”), until finely at 3:00am she had to call the cops (!!). All this debauchery in our hallway and just a few doors down. But with the air con blasting and us hunkered under our comforters because it was -5F in the room, we did not hear a thing. Which was ok because we awoke to crystal clear skies with fresh legs and clear enthusiasm for the task ahead.
The task was 5 times around an 11 mile course that features a two-tiered 1K climb to the finish. The climb is tough but not overly severe. It’s a climb where the punishing effects are cumulative rather than acute. So the rule (OA/Cyclemania rule anyway) is no free rides up the hill in order to up the cumulative ante. After the start-finish line there is a rolling section, then the course plunges down a closed road winding road through the Purgatory state park (47 mph top speed but easy descent as the corners are smooth and even), then it’s flat-ish as the course works its way over to the finishing climb. Many would agree that this is one of the most fun courses we ride all year. The roads are smooth, the scenery and countryside is lovely, and the course has many just flat out fun sections. One is urged to give it a try should you have the opportunity.
With about 70 starters one can use the excuse that it is hard to keep track of everybody. After the 2nd lap and on the rolling section, Thomas Francis scooted away when the group paused after a roller. A few others drifted over and rolled around a corner. As is often the case, this happened in an innocent area where all in the group figured we’d catch the 5 escapees on the downhill. As you are probably correctly projecting now to the finish, the escape succeeded and the group was left fighting for scraps. It’s always good practice to try and win SOMETHING, scraps included, so we kept the pressure on up the hills and managed to whittle the final chase group to about 30 (lots of good riders out there). Ron and I hit the final climb in great position. I hit the last hill in a bigger gear than the other 4 times as I wanted to open up a big gap. It worked! But a couple guys caught me toward the top and this one guy (Patrick Ruane) rode a monster gear past me and crushed all of us and just missed bridging to the winning break. It was amazing. Ron also rode the last hill very well and secured a good placing. Here are the results:
Check out the Pro/1-2 race result. Great job by Joe Reis as this was a flat out speed-fest from the gun. Note the high dropout rate. Note the guy who won – full time pro from New Zealand who won the pro 2011 Battenkill. Dan Vaillancourt rode well, too.
Looks like Joe Lynch in the 3s tangled with a bunch of tough hombres.