Since I've last checked in with a racing recap, there's been quite a bit of action with the BJL Coaching Athletes.
Let's jump back to the Ides of March and the MTBNJ Grundle Short Track Mountain Bike Race was taking place. The conditions were snowy and muddy, but that didn't deter these hardy racers. One of the area's top U19 Racers, Morgan P. entered in the open men and finished just outside the top 10 in 11th. In the Women's Open Field, Kathryn C. put her 'Cross skills to good use on her mountain bike and took home second place. This was a nice tune up race for both athletes.
The strange weather in March left the weekend of the 21st and 22nd open, but the following weekend brought us three very different races. Masters Racer Greg S., making his comeback after a 20 year break from racing Pro Mountain Bikes, headed south the the March Mayhem Mountain Bike Race. An early race mechanical forced him to stop and lose contact with the gravy train on this fast and flowy course, but he fought back hard to finish 5th.
Paul L. got involved in the penultimate Branchbrook Spring Series, battling stiff winds and a talent rich 35+ field. A break went up the road, and Paul finished 3rd in the field sprint to take 12th place overall.
And for something completely different, Kathryn C. went back to her mother land of Michigan for the very popular Barry Roubaix dirt and gravel road race. Just shy of 3000 (yes, 3000) folks register for the three different race lengths, and of course Kathryn was all in with the 62 mile loop and 3800' of elevation gain. The morning brought mid-teens for temperatures but she used her 'cross racing experience to be properly dressed and prepared. The mass start presented some difficulty in knowing who was in your field, but KC kept fighting hard and finished up 6th in the Open Women out of 41 starters, of which only 28 finished.
The first weekend of April had the Time Trialists ready to race against the clock for the first time this year. Both Kevin E. and Jan S. went to the northern part of the 'Jersey Shore for the classic TT kickoff race, Sandy Hook. This would be Kevin's second go at the 7 mile out and back course, and Jan's first. The wind was nasty that day, gusting up to 30+ mph. Kevin bettered his result from last year coming in at 11th with friend and temmate Jan, coming in just seconds behind him in 12th. Great start to the season, men!
Also on April 4th was the last Branchbrook Park Race, dealing with crazy windy conditions again. Frank S. got involved getting his legs back under him with a strong pack finish where many in his Cat 4 Race were dropped. Paul finished up 15th with a strong field sprint chasing yet another break in the 35+ Race.
On April 11th was the Cherry Blossom Challenge back at Branchbrook Park. This race traditionally brings out the best road racers in the region, and this running didn't disappoint. Paul L. entered the Cat 3 Race as a little tune-up for his race on the 5th, and finished up 18th, again doing well in the field sprint after a break away got clear on the first lap. Frank S. put himself back in action and finished in the pack in the Cat 4 Race, where almost a 1/3 of the field didn't finish due to the windy conditions. I enterred the Pro 1/2/3 Race, and with $1500 on the line, I knew all the heavy hitters would be there. I was happy to stay in the field after a breakway went clear at about mile 40 of the 50 mile race. I finished up 28th of the 81 starters, 3rd place Cat 3. The conditions wreaked havoc on this group as well, as only 43 finished the race.
The next day, Paul got his game on at the Carl Dolan Memorial Spring Classic. He rode a beautiful race and sprinted for 5th place out of the 79 finishers. This was a super result and some more points from USA Cycling.
On Saturday, April 18th, the TT'ers were back at it at the 2nd running of the Allamuchy TT Course. This super fun course had some great conditions and Kevin E. put himself just into the top 10, in 10th. This will give Kevin some good cup points and help to hone his form for the rest of the season.
The 18th was day one of one of the largest races in the country, The Battenkill Pro/Am. Pete S. took the journey to upper New York State for his first test of the season, and crossed the line in 22nd out of the 50+ starters in his Cat 5 group. Pete showed tremendous tenacity and will power after a bit of a late start to his training this year. Kathryn C. had a wonderful race, making all the right moves. The Women's Cat 4 race would be won by a solo breakaway from mile 9, but KC put herself into the head of the field as the chase group whittled itself down to a mere 8 riders. Kathryn sprinted her way to 4th place, missing 3rd by a 1/4 of a wheel. None-the-less, a brilliant race, Kathryn!
Sunday the 19th was the first Hudson to Highlands Mountain Bike Race of the year. This is an 8 race series located in NJ and NY that brings out the top racers of the region. The race was promoted by MTBNJ and they laid out a challenging and fun course. BJL Coaching Athletes started the series off strong with U19 Racer Morgan P. coming in 2nd in Cat 1 Men 19-39, Stef M. earning 4th in Cat 2 Women 40+, Rod M. scoring 7th in Cat 2 Men 50+, and Greg S. taking home 7th in Cat 1 Men 50+. Chris C., in his first Cat 2 Race of his life, finished 1st in the 15-18 Junior Men, and top 5 out of all Cat 2s.
This is a great start for all of these athletes. Their hard work and perseverance is really paying off, and will only pay greater dividends as the season rolls on. I'm very excited to witness all the success that will come!
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.