Quabbin Reservoir Classic 120 Mile Road Race

I finished the 120 mile Quabbin Reservoir Classic in Ware, Massachusetts today. Finishing was the only goal I had. I opted to not race in the 35+ category because it was only one lap of the Quabbin Reservoir and 100 kilometers (62 miles) long. Months ago, when I planned my race calendar, I saw that the Pro/1/2/3 race was going to be two laps of the epic course. I’ve raced Quabbin before, but never the double loop, so it was nice to add a new race finish to my list. I also have never done the finish on Quabbin Hill just past the Enfield Lookout, or at least I never recall finishing there. I think the finish I have done before was on Ware-Greenwich Road. Incidentally, this year, that road was in really rough shape with numerous potholes and cracks. The rest of the course was beautiful with lots of fresh and fast pavement. I heard that next year, Ware-Greenwich will be re-paved.

I knew I would be out of my league with Pros, 1’s, and 2’s, but I needed the training for Ironman. There is no better way to get the miles in than with a large group. It is awfully hard to motivate yourself to ride 120 on your own. All week, the weather forecast called for rain on Sunday. I was bumming because that would only make it harder. Ironically, yesterday’s weather was spectacular. If the race was Saturday, we would have gotten sunburn.

Today dawned cloudy and by the time we rolled down the access road to Route 9 during our neutral start, it was pouring, as predicted. It rained for the first three hours, but the northern part of the course was noticeably drier. At the top of the reservoir, we only had sprinkles and dampness. When we turned south again, we rode right back into the rain. The good news is that the rain stopped during the second half of the race and the roads even dried up. We didn’t dry up because of the earlier soaking, but at least we weren’t miserable the whole time.

The Rapha Condor Sharp Pro Cycling Team showed up to contest the race. In their all black kit, they looked mean. They came from England for last weekend’s Tour of the Battenkill in New York, and couldn’t get back to Europe because of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption. So, they stuck around to put the hurt on the New England amateurs.

The Quabbin is also a beautiful park and has quite a history. It is the largest body of water in Massachusetts and was built between 1930 and 1939. The man-made reservoir was created by flooding the Swift River Valley for the purpose of providing drinking water to the Boston metropolitan area. Four towns were inundated and discontinued as a result of the construction of two large earthen dams. Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott all ceased to exist. The residents were relocated because their houses are now at the bottom of the reservoir. The history of the Quabbin is fascinating and I always enjoy reading and hearing about it.

As for the race, well, it was hard. I really wanted to finish the first lap with the group, but I couldn’t. I was no match for the speedy riders in my field. I just don’t have that kind of strength on the hills, and there were a lot of hills. GPS showed more than 8000 feet of climbing. I also don’t do cycling for a living, like some of the riders in today’s race. Nothing like getting a paycheck for riding. No excuses! They were hammering up the climbs. I don’t train enough to be competitive in road cycling anymore, but the race was still awesome. I got popped in Hardwick on a series of stair-step climbs. I chased back on once with the help of the caravan, but I got popped again and their was no second chance. This was around the 1:50 mark, which meant I would have more than four hours of riding on my own.

Fortunately, less than an hour after getting dropped, I caught up to a rider just past the access road as I completed lap one. I rolled up to him and he had a grim look on his face, but still seemed cheery. He asked me if I was going to keep going. Two riders that he was with had turned up the finishing hill early. I indicated that I wanted to ride another lap, and he said he would join me. His name was Andrew Bernstein of the Champion System Racing team, and he was hoping to find his sunglasses, which he said he dropped  on the first lap. We both kept our eyes open for them, but too bad, he never found them. He had come from Saratoga Springs to contest the race. We didn’t talk a ton during our three hours together, but we shared  a few laughs and mainly took turns on the front. I was number 4 and he was 44, so our union seemed destined to be.

The results weren’t posted as of Sunday evening, but I crossed the line in just under six hours and 12 minutes. I’m guessing we were 45 minutes or more behind the winner. It was a long day in the saddle. My legs felt pretty good at the end. I tested them with a 20 foot jog in the parking lot. I shuddered at the thought of needing to run a marathon next, and quickly retreated to my car to change. I’ll save the post-ride marathon for next month.

My only teammate in the long race was Matt Domnarski. I don’t know how he did, but he was still in the pack when I got shelled out the back. He was in rare form today, riding with a broken spoke from the start. Matt is an animal. Horst-Benidorm-PRC riders, Arlen Zane Wenzel, Wayne Prescott, and Gary Aspnes raced in the 35+ age group. I’m curious how they did.

Mike Norton and the Cyclonauts crew did a good job with the race. They had a lot of volunteers and solid support. Like Battenkill, these long road race loops are hard to pull off. We went through more than 10 towns. That is a lot of traffic control to coordinate. On our second lap, Andrew and I were treated to an amazing display of support. A Hardwick town policeman passed us in his car, going the other direction. No one had come through for a long time, but he did a u-turn, raced back past us, and was waiting outside of his car at the next intersection to stop traffic and wave us through. That was unnecessary, but welcomed. According to Norton, the Massachusetts DCR deserves thanks for providing rangers and other support. Plus, we got to use their venue. I’m appreciative.

I don’t enjoy road cycling like I used to. It bugs me a bit because I want to enjoy it. It is just that some of the characters displease me. There is an abundance of arrogance and attitude amongst some of the riders. Despite Norton reporting in a post-race e-mail that the course wasn’t that littered, I beg to differ. I saw the course up close on my second lap after several hundred riders in various categories had completed their first lap. It was terrible. I counted more than a hundred pieces of litter from the race. There were gel packets, energy bar wrappers, and lots of water bottles. He said someone swept the course. I hope so. It would be terrible to leave such a mess when we are guests on those roads. What gives with these elite riders? They have three pockets in their jerseys, yet, so many of them can’t seem to find them once they have eaten a gel or a bar. I watched so  many of these guys just drop their wrappers on the road, or worse, throw them into the woods. It is just lame that after all the admonishment and threats that we will lose great courses for these stupid acts, they still litter. Like I said, I think it has more to do with attitude and character, then with the size of their jersey pockets.

It is also worth mentioning that the motorist hostility is noticeable. The roads were wide and there was a good shoulder, yet when we were alone on our second lap, we got way too many honks. The drivers don’t slow and the just seem angry. What does that say about society? I am used to motorist issues from my urban commute, but a Sunday ride in rural Massachusetts should be free of the usual tension.

I wasn’t going to let some litter and rude motorists ruin a fine day. I was pleased with the overall result with more than six hours in the saddle. The legs have been tested and I’ll test them a different way next weekend at 7 Sisters.

Race Results

1 Response to “Quabbin Reservoir Classic 120 Mile Road Race”

  1. 1 2011 Quabbin Reservoir Classic Road Race « Life Adventures Trackback on 23 April 2011 at 3:17 pm

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