I've only competed at this race one other time during it's ten or so year span, but from what I know it is a very unique race. From my experiences it is a mix of a European classic with a splash of American flare. You are racing on curvy, twisty, hilly roads out in the country of eastern Pennsylvania against many foreigners for 100km, then you come into the town of Souderton and do a 5.5km circuit 11 times that is like a hard criterium.
This year's event was even more unique. They made the race into a stage race by adding a team time trial on the day before the road race in Allentown, PA. To even out the competition the use of any time trial equipment was not allowed, and you were only able to start with mass start legal equipment. I don't really think they need this event to make the road race exciting, as it seems that it works itself out, but I do believe that this stage was an awesome race in itself.
The time trial was held on a 7km circuit through town that we would do twice. It included a number of corners and a couple of short hills. With this being the first team time trial in a major event in the US over the past two years not many teams get to work on this skill. As our team rolled backwards to check out the course before our start we saw other teams having some of the same problems we would soon encounter. Of course the weather on the day was no help with rain showers, wind gust to 30mph, and temps at best just touching 60.
Teams were composed of 4-6 and the time would be taken on the 3rd rider across the line. We were a man short on the start and went out with 5 riders. It wasn't long before we started, not even 300 meters, before we were out of sink. Unfortunately for us we were never able to find the chemistry needed to put out a good result. We had a decent first lap split, but we were soon down to 3 riders and you're only as good as your 3rd rider on the day.
So Saturday came and the weather hadn't improved much other then the wind died down, but I wouldn't have mind a bit of wind. Most of the time this race is full on from the start and very aggressive with 3 sprints and 2 kom's in the first 50km's. The field usually finds itself in a few groups as it enters the circuits. This year was slightly different as there was a break of 4 followed by the peloton which was largely intact, other then a few stragglers and those, including myself who never made it through the neutral start.
That's right, I never made it through the 3km neutral start. As we were all bunched up rolling down a slight hill one guy goes down and just like dominoes 25 or so more guys are down. The rest of the race rolled to the real start and waited for those who could gather themselves off the pavement and get their equipment fixed. I rolled there and was in to much pain to continue. My day and season was done.
On that note it is onto 2010 where I'm hoping to grow on the end of the 2009 season. See you all on the road next year.