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Rapha North East Gentlemen’s Race 2013

Posted: May 25th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles | No Comments »

When did I start thinking about how cool it would be to participate in a Rapha Gentlemen’s Race? Pretty much as soon as I became aware of Rapha and the event. Although Rapha generates some controversy among cyclists, I have always been a fan. I like the celebration of cycling panache and cool. And well made, nice looking kit is great too.

My problem is that I didn’t really start getting back into the kind of shape needed to tackle 130+ hard miles until very recently. Work and life, but mainly the former, had adversely impacted my fitness and I was on time’s downward staircase. Things changed in 2011 as I had the opportunity to ride more consistently than I had for years, and by the end that year. Fitness was starting to creep back and I was looking less like the chubby little monkey I had become.

When the call for entries went out for the 2013 NE Gentlemen’s Race went out I was all over it. I had joined the Foundation team and recruited a good group of guys to ride with – Rob W, Mauricio S., Laurent G. and Bob M. are all hard charging diesels and good to ride with too. My buddy Nate K. also joined the squad. With a great squad in place I completed the essay and prepared the other materials needed to apply. And I hoped, a lot.

And we got in! With a week to the ride, we got the course – a challenging 130+ mile route starting in New Jersey.

We were fortunate to have Nate along because in addition to being a monster rider, he takes pictures for a living. Photos by Nathan Kraxberger are gratefully used with permission in this recap. Certain photos are from Kira E Theesfeld / Abigail Thomas Photography, and are used with permission.

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To get to the race, we had to meet early – we nearly hit the plan to roll out at 5:15am! and made it to the start with time to spare.

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We drove in two vehicles to the small park where the ride started. In our rush for pre-race prep, we all availed ourselves of the blue boxes rather than the much nicer facilities a few miles further.

The staging area was light, but had everything that was needed, including fresh drip brewed Grimpeur Bros. coffee.

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The crew checked bikes and loaded up on Power Bars!

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At 9:35 we were off. And the riding was fantastic. Our navigation, however, not so much. We missed the first turn and that would set the tone.

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There was lots of gravel, and it was nice. Uphill, downhill and flats.

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We wasted time with long official stops – waiting in lines and losing precious minutes.

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tic toc tic toc

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Unofficial rest stops were much quicker.

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We crossed bridges by bike.

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And by foot.

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And we crossed streams with no bridge in sight.

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For those who tried to ride, the correct line was too the right, it got deep on the left.

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After this crossing, the road got steep.

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Cresting each climb was a delight.

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And it should be noted that some of the riders made the climbs look easy.

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The last water crossing was confusing, since there was a bridge, but it was impassable. And the water was deep.

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A hike through the woods was required to find a section of river that was passable.

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We had the realization that we were losing too much time on disorganized rest stops so passed a few in the final 40 miles. Dread descended when we realized that there weren’t any options coming and we were running out of water. Happily a local let us use his hose to refill our bottles.

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Although we were motivated by the massive purse on offer (24 beers x 26 teams), we didn’t manage to get the win. We finished 8th on the day out of 26 teams (21 of which finished) at 8:48.

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It was an outstanding event and a great day out on the bike. The team worked well together and after we had recharged with pizza and beer, we almost immediately turned to improvements for the event next year.

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