Race Reflection: Zack Curran, The Pottstown Criterium

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Race Reflection: Zack Curran, The Pottstown Criterium
Race Journal: A First-Race Reflection

LVRT at the starting line
Race Reflection: Zack Curran, The Pottstown Criterium
The Line-Up

Zack Curran, Ralph Lancia, and Adam Ford line-up for the start of the Cat 5 race in Pottstown, PA.

Zack Curran sprinting for 1st at the Pottstown Criterium
Race Reflection: Zack Curran, The Pottstown Criterium
Finish Sprint

Zack Curran sprints for 1st in the group sprint, nabbing 7th overall

LVRT Team and Zack Curran discussing race tactics
Race Reflection: Zack Curran, The Pottstown Criterium
Pre-Race Strategy

Zack, Adam, and Ralph discuss race tactics in the minutes before their first race.

My name is Zackary Curran and I race for the Lackawanna Valley Racing Team (LVRT) in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  I’ve been cycling for almost three years now–I first got into the sport through mountain biking, later getting a road bike and really enjoying my time in the saddle.  Through watching and following the Pro Tours, I was quickly hooked on the competitiveness of the sport.  I had talked with fellow cyclist friends about racing and how I could get involved, and it wasn’t long after that LVRT had been formed, and I now had a fancy team kit that needed some race attention!

The Preparation

July 16th, 2017 would be my first-ever race, which had me racing against Category 5 racers in the USA Cycling system.  This was the Pottstown Bike Race, taking place in downtown Pottstown, Pennsylvania, a beautiful town with a nice course.  After I signed up for the race, I watched a ton of ‘race preparation’ videos by The Vegan Cyclist, a really helpful YouTube creator.  He offered lots of information for someone new to the racing scene, and I definitely felt more prepared going into the race.

On race day there were four of us from the team at the race; three of the four would be racing for the first time!  Our start time was in the afternoon, which meant things were going to get hot.

The Start

Racers were asked to come to the line, the official for the race gave her spiel about the “do’s & do not’s”.  I don’t remember the exact number of laps we would race, but I believe it was around 12.  The course was a one-mile rectangle, with four left hand turns. I didn’t get to preview the course prior to the race, so I had no idea what to expect as my fellow teammates and I took the starting line!  Before I knew it, we were off!

My first race “clip-in” could’ve definitely used some work! From the starting line, it was pretty much a false flat until you got to the back road, parallel to the starting line road.  On the straight away before the finish line, it was a slight descending grade of maybe -2% to -3% — this section was perfect for bringing back any riders that tried to take off.  After the second turn of the first lap I remember trying to stand up to sprint and all a sudden, BAM! My chain wouldn’t keep its place! It turned out my big chain ring was super worn.  At the time I had no idea why this was happening and all I could do was stay in the saddle the whole race and power through.

Making Moves

Around lap 7 or so, a group of six had broken off. We thought they would be brought back, but they would stay off the front, keeping their break at about 20-30 seconds.  At this point race I had remembered what the team director, Aaron McNany had told me prior to the race: “Zack, if a group breaks off and you’re in the second group, try and at least sprint for the “win” within that group”.  With that being said I stayed back in the second group and let everyone else work.  I might have pushed once or twice to get the guys moving, but moral was low so I stayed back and just rested.

The bell lap had finally come, and this was my time to do my best to win the group sprint!  It was the descent before the final corner that I would attack.  The front guy had looked to his right and I went off the left. Remembering my big chain ring was shot, I tried to generate as much power as I could!  Turns out, it was enough to hold off the pack, and it got me the sprint finish for the group! I took 7th out of 34 racers that day–not bad for my first race!

Forward-Focused

Overall, my first race experience was a really good one.  It wasn’t perfect, but I learned some valuable lessons. I learned that I need to checkover things like drivetrain wear before the race.  Based off my Garmin 520 Edge, I had averaged a speed of 23.5 mph, max speed of 32 mph, average cadence of 91 rpm, and max cadence of 180 rpm.  After the Pottstown race I participated in two more races, one taking a sprint finish for 6th down at the Trexlertown Criterium track, and 11th at a circuit race in Binghamton.  This year’s race season was short for me because I didn’t think I was ready to race, waiting until mid-summer to give it my first shot. For the 2018 road racing season I will be hitting the races early and participating often.

I’ll see you out on the roads,

Zack

 

Zack Curran

Contributor

Zack lives and trains in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where the climbs are gnarly and the descents even gnarlier. Focused primarily on criterium road racing, Zack also enjoys the occasional mountain bike or cyclocross ride.

1 Comment
  1. Zack,
    Great article! There are so many facets to this awesome sport. It even lends itself to many different personality and thought process types, from the numbers guy to the bull to the tactician! As you mentioned and worth mentioning again: The biggest mistake a future racer can make it to wait til they feel 100% f in race shape. There is so much to learn In the race that a rider needs to jump in as soon as possible. So many skills, tactics, etc. to learn and hands-on is the best way! Kudos!

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