OAM NOW Masters Squad Rocks Spring Gravel Classics

April 23rd, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Richard Landgraff, OAM NOW Masters cyclist

Although they might not get the same glory as the first riders across the line, masters racers often make up a huge portion of the overall field making for a consistently competitive battle for the podium.

The Team OAM NOW Masters squad has posted some impressive results already this season at two gravel road races with weather at opposite ends of the spectrum- a frigid, windy and wet Lowell 50 and a warm, dry and dusty Barry Roubaix.  OAM NOW cyclist Richard Landgraff recaps the masters team performances in both races.

Lowell 50

Richard Landgraff and Chris Abston after surviving a wet, frigid Lowell 50

Richard Landgraff and Chris Abston after surviving a wet, frigid Lowell 50

The weather forecast did not look promising in the week leading up to the spring edition of the Lowell 50.  With temperatures in the low 30’s, winds gusting to 40 mph and the potential for snow, there were many riders (including myself) who were not looking forward to racing in such brutal conditions.  But we are bike racers, and on the Saturday morning before the Tour of Flanders the very next day, the weather was actually not too bad or so we thought.  With about 60 riders in the main field for the 57 mile event, the pack rolled out for the approximate 2 km neutral start to the covered bridge.  As racing began in earnest, it was quickly apparent that the strong winds were going to play a hand in the outcome of the race.  Also, the overnight rains had left many sections of road soft and the potholes filled with water.  The first real test of the race comes at about the 5 km mark with a climb that’s named “Rude Awakening” as a Strava segment.  The name was indeed appropriate as there were many riders who lost contact with the main group on that first climb.  The paced settled in a bit after the climb and I looked around to see that all of the main favorites were still in the field as well as most of my OAM NOW teammates.   

The next 20 km of the race is fairly hilly and the pack generally stayed together with a few attacks and some solo breakaway attempts from other riders and teams, none of which stuck.  The decisive part of the race comes at about the 25 km mark for a number of reasons, the biggest today of which was the brutal crosswind that put most of the riders in the gutter as the pack made a left hand turn northward on a stretch that would last about 4 km.  As gaps started to open everywhere, I gave it my all a few times to stay in contact with the main field.  As we turned back east out of the cross wind, I had survived and readied myself for the next turn north which would blow the race wide open.  With only about 25 riders left in the main field, the pace eased up slightly as the field wound it’s way to the southeastern most part of the course and as we made the turn back north onto Barker Road, the attacks came fast and furious.  My goal was to follow wheels as best I could and when I saw my teammate Chris Abston follow an attack, I knew that I would be in a good position not to have to work to bring anything back.  I glanced up the road and it was carnage- a couple small groups of 2-3 riders and it was the same behind.  Over the next couple of kilometers, the groups consolidated with eight riders up the road and then a chase group of nine, including Chris and I. 

A snowy downtown Lowell awaited the hearty riders

A snowy downtown Lowell awaited the hearty riders

As we raced back toward Lowell mainly into a head and cross wind, the storm that had been forecast began to come down in full force.  It began to snow, flurries at first and then a steady snow as one rider got away solo and the rest of the group of stayed together notwithstanding numerous attacks including one from me on a climb about 12 km from the finish.  We did lose a couple of more on the finishing hills back toward Fallasburg Park and soon we were turning back onto the paved stretch of finishing road.  The sprint began about 250 meters from the finish and in the end, Chris placed 13th overall (3rd in the 40-49 category) and I was right behind him in 14th place (1st in the 50+ category).  All in all a great day and finish for Team OAM NOW in the Lowell 50 (57 mile) spring edition. 

Full results can be found here.


Barry Roubaix

Course conditions and tire/bike selections were the talk amongst the team in the week leading up to Barry Roubaix 2016.  With forecast temperatures in the mid 70’s, the pre-race course reconnaissance indicated that the gravel roads would be loose, soft and dusty- and were they ever.  The wave 2 field for the 62 mile race included nearly 400 riders with Richard Landgraff, Chris Abston and Terry Ritter riding for TEAM OAM NOW.  All of us decided to ride cross bikes with a mix of file tread and road tires.

barry roubaix swagA good start position and being able to be at or near the front when the race hits the gravel roads were going to be the keys to the day.  After the first 10 km and the “Three Sisters” climbs, the field was reduced to about 50.  As the race progressed back onto the pavement and began the Gunn Lake Road climb all of the riders were thinking of their position going into the Sager Road two track, which was coming in the next 10 km.  The race pretty much blew apart on the sandy two-track of Sager.  Chris and I managed to make it through unscathed as there were numerous crashes and riders having to dismount and run through the deep sand.  We turned out of Sager and hammered up the next few hills to catch back onto the small group of leaders which eventually grew to a group of about 30.  At this time, we were unaware that a group of about eight riders were ahead of the main field, a fact which we realized several kilometers later as a couple of the main favorites were no longer in the main group.

The race continued along the dusty roads and as the pack hit the main climbs including The Wall and Cloverdale Hills, riders continued to lose contact with the group.  At this point in the race with less than 40 km to go, the goal was to conserve energy for the last few climbs toward the end of the race.  The main pack was down to about 20 or so riders as the field came onto the finishing 5 km of pavement.  I attacked on the last climb and managed to hold off all but three of the chasers to finish 2nd in the Masters 51+ category and 40th overall.  Chris Abston and Terry Ritter finished a strong 16th in the Masters 40-50 and 62 overall, and 44th in the Masters 40-50 and 127th overall, respectively.

Richard Landgraff takes second in the masters category

Richard Landgraff takes second in the highly competitive  masters 51+ category at Barry Roubaix

Full results can be found here. 


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