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A Month on the Road - Chuck Coyle's Racing Chronicles
 
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 6/29/2002
A Month on the Road - Chuck Coyle's Racing Chronicles
 

"I’m not sick but I’m not well…"
-Harvey Danger

It is now almost three weeks after US PROs in Philadelphia, PA but I am now just getting around to writing about it. After Philly I went up to Quebec to participate in the Grand Prix Cycliste De Beauce and while there I was without internet and cell phone access…talk about being stranded! Anyway, here is my brief recap of the past few weeks…

Sunday June 9th, mere hours after the race...

I can now officially check off the USPRO Road Race Championships from my slowly shrinking "to do" list of races. The race finished about 3 hours ago and my head is still spinning; the media, crowds and hype surrounding the race was like nothing I have ever experienced before. Right now I am being driven to my hometown of Rochester, NY by my younger brother Mike with my mom doing her best not to get dropped a couple cars back. I am sure there is no way that I will finish writing this right now but I am not sure if it will be me or my laptop battery that will go first.

What can I say about the Philly race…it truly is the big show. Every morning before our team-ride there were photographers taking pictures and random people crowding around our mechanic Chad watching him in awe as he worked his magic. At the races there were countless people asking for autographs and bunches of kids wanting water bottles. I wanted to tell some of them that they really didn’t to waste their time asking me for the old John Hancock and their time would be much better spent hounding guys like Freddy Rodriquez, George Hincapie or Chann McRae; they are the true superstars.

This was also a great experience because not only did I get to meet some great racers but I also had the opportunity to meet so many fantastic people (Jaime, Manny & Fast Flash Gordon just to name a few).

It is crazy to think that after some of the biggest races of my life that I don’t know what to say about them. To write about just one of the races that I have done over the last weeks is more than enough to put most people to sleep. Let me just say that Philly week was incredible and I cannot wait to go back and do it all over again.

Here is a brief synopsis of what last week was like:

Clarendon Cup; Arlington, VA: Sunday June 2nd

This was the first race of our East Coast swing and it was brutal. The heat and humidity were like nothing that I have had to race in this year and once you add some of the world’s fastest racers into the mix it is a good recipe for pain. The race, not to anyone’s surprise, was super fast and was one of pure attrition; there were guys getting dropped almost from the time the gun went off.

A big group got off the front and managed to lap the field. We had 4 guys in it so the rest of the team went to the front of the pack and kept a slow tempo so they would have an easier time catching on, after lapping the field we all tried to stay up front so nothing else could sneak away.

Over the last 30 minutes gaps were opening up every lap and you had to stay up front or else you ran a huge risk of someone else opening a gap that you could not close. By the end of the 100k crit the field was down to about 15 riders and after some big attacks from the likes of Chris Wherry & Henk Vogels (both Mercury) it was Navigators strong man Vassili Davidinko who ended up stealing the win in a hard sprint.

First Union Invitational; Lancaster, PA: Tuesday June 4th

I was able to sit this one out and soak in the atmosphere so that I might be a little fresher for the race in Trenton on Thursday and of course Philly on Sunday. I went for a nice ride in the morning and at the race I caught a ride to the feed zone with our soigneur Stephanie. My good friend Dave Towle was working the announcer’s stand at the feed zone, which was nice because I could keep tabs on what was happening during the race through him.

I do not get to be a spectator on the sidelines too often so it was sort of cool to watch the race unfold from a completely different perspective. I was also happy because the race looked hard, I could tell from the faces of the guys as they rode through the feed zone on even the second lap that they were all putting out some serious watts.

With one lap to go we got to the finish just in time to watch Dave Clinger come in for a solo victory just a handful of seconds in front of Mercury’s Wherry. I ride with Chris quite a bit back in Colorado and cannot imagine how hard Clinger must have been going in order to ride away from him; it was a very impressive piece of cycling.

First Union Invitational; Trenton, NJ: Thursday June 6th

My coach, teammates and most of my cycling cronies kept telling me that the Trenton race would be one of the fastest races that I ever do. They did not happen to mention what it would be like if it was also raining sideways. It looked (and felt) like rain all day but it had held off and I was hoping that we would get lucky because the course has two long sections of cobbles that had the potential to get very slick if it rained. After introductions and the National Anthem we managed to get underway without a hitch and I immediately tried to get up front for the first trip into the park.

I had good position and then all of the sudden the chief official was hanging out of the lead car’s sun roof yelling at the top of his lungs trying to get us to stop…what?…stop?…are you crazy?… I had no idea what was happening. He made us all turn around and go back to the start-line again. As it turned out someone had stolen a car and hit and killed a pedestrian on the backside of the course. I thought that after a tragedy like that the race would be cancelled or somehow postponed. I guess nothing was going to stop the race from happening!

The race organizers ended up changing part of the course where the accident was and decided that the show must go on. During all of this it started to rain, and rain hard. They ended up having to shorten the race because of the start, now almost an hour late, which was supposed to start at 4:30 pm anyway.

After much ado we managed to get going again and it was nuts. There were so many crashes during the first few laps, every time you went around a corner you could hear riders going down or someone would just disappear from view right in front of you. At any given corner if you looked down you could see guys sliding along like they were stealing second base. The cobble section of the course was the slipperiest surface that I have ever ridden a bike on, let alone raced on! If you even thought about standing up on the pedals your rear wheel would immediately slide out from underneath you.

I soon found myself with 5 other teammates in the front group of 30 riders; those are great odds to have in a bike race. Our major drawback was that it was so hard to any teamwork because of the sketchy conditions. It was more like we were all operating in pure survival mode. With about 1.5 k to go Saturn’s Frank McCormack dove underneath me in one of the cobbled corners and was poof…down. A big gap opened up and I was not able to close it. The rest of the break battled it out for the win and a small group of us limped on to the home straight like a pack of beaten, wet dogs.

It will certainly be a race that I will not forget for a long time.

USPRO Championships; Philadelphia, PA Sunday June 9th

I do not think that I could do the race in Philly any justice by writing about it but it was awesome! Besides, I am sure that by now most people have a good idea of what went down. I would like to say that after 90 miles I checked my cyclocomputer, or "speedo" as my Kiwi teammates prefer to call it, and we had already averaged about 29mph and there were still over 60 miles to go!

6 days later; From Rochester to Rochester…

After a nice rest spending some good quality time with family and friends I am once again ready for action. I have only been doing easy spins except for the smallest parking-lot crit I have ever done in Buffalo, NY. Since my family does not get to see me race all that often they decoded to come out and watch the crit. It was a big change for them from Philly where they had to battle over 700 thousand other race fans just to get a peek at us zipping by. What was nice about the crit in Buffalo was that they were able to see the whole race from the comfort of their car!

I am now just outside of Boston, Mass. I hitched a ride from my mother and stepfather from my lush hometown of Rochester, NY, to my teammate’s hometown of Rochester, Mass. Currently I am in-route to the Great White North of St.Georges in Quebec. Starting Monday is the infamously hard stage race called the Grand Prix Cycliste De Beauce.

This is the only UCI stage race (and a 2.3 UCI ranking at that) in North America and is known for being super fast with unpredictable weather that can be anywhere from 34-94 degrees. I have never raced there but from what I hear it is the closest thing to racing in Europe without having to buy a plane ticket.

--Chuck Coyle
7Up/Nutrafig

Stay tuned for Part Two - Grand Prix De Beauce

 


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