The Battle for Fort Washington kicked off with a glorious summer evening this past Wednesday! A small chance of rain did not bear out and cyclists from all over the Delaware Valley came to enjoy a clear, cool evening. Attendance was phenomenal: Eighty-one (81!) racers participated, hailing from as far away as Pottstown, PA; Wilmington, DE; and Sicklersville, NJ. A quarter of those were women, well above the national average race percentage. First timers making their road racing debut also made up a quarter of the racers. Smiles were had all around as riders got their first taste of a surprisingly hard but fun course throughout the gorgeous Militia Hill recreational area of Fort Washington State Park.
Racing began with a whopping fifty starters in the B Race. Breakaway Bikes’ Joe Wentzell and Bill Ash began the night’s introductory components by leading a 3 lap neutral rolling start, ensuring all the newcomers got some experience riding in a large race group. Afterward the field quickly spread apart on the finishing stretch climb, with two groups forming and many stragglers being pulled and then relaunched into the chasing group on the next lap for another shot at hanging on. Eventually unattached riders Eric Thorek, Nathan Bowser, and Tom Reeb came out ahead on points.
Fifteen category 3 and 4 riders began the Women’s Race immediately after, also opening with a neutral rolling start. Over time the rise again took its toll, leaving about half the riders in a lead pack and the others in small clusters periodically pulled and restarted for another attempt to hang with the peloton. Shaina Kravitz (Kelpius) took the night by winning the critical final sprint to edge out Angelia Flick (Bicycle Therapy), who had bested her in each of the earlier sprints, with Sarah Grogan (Peanut Butter & Company/Human Zoom) rounding out the podium.
Ramping up the speeds, twenty-six veterans took to the road for the concluding A Race. The field eventually broke into two distinct groups working their way into the twilight. Steve Sandacz (QCW Cycling p.b. Breakawaybikes.com) took advantage of the others’ fatigue to win the final sprint and launch himself from no points to fifth place. Consistent sprint placings though by Thomas Detwiler (Breakawaybikes.com-Vie13 pb Felt Bicycle), Kevin Mellinger (QCW Cycling p.b. Breakawaybikes.com), and Edward Mullen (QCW Cycling p.b. Breakawaybikes.com) gave them the top slots. Sam Konstantinov (Temple University) earned an honorable mention among a strong group of riders by being the only Cat 4 to earn points in this race.
Throughout the A Race, Breakaway Bikes’ Joe Wentzell, Bill Ash, and Todd Lippin continued the night’s educational riding with a fantastic clinic in the grass alongside the start/finish stretch. After a short opening discussion on race riding, some 50 riders—a few having come for just the clinic—rotated through rubbing, lookback, and stop drills for nearly an hour. Riders from all categories participated, enjoying a great space and fun crowd while being introduced to or brushing up on a number of skills.
Primary prizes have now been nailed down; series calculations and prize lists will be published before next week’s race. We are eager to hear any comments and suggestions on how to make the series even better; please feel free to get in touch.
See you next week!
Top photo by Bob Wellmon: The Women’s Race gets down to business.