For many years the Jefferson Cup Road Race, held in the Southern outskirts of Charlottesville, VA, was the traditional season opener for Mid-Atlantic racers. While the Black Hills Circuit Race now holds that distinction, The Jefferson Cup Road Race, or Jeff Cup, still holds a special place in the heart of many MABRA racers as a hard test of not just speed but endurance coming out of the Winter. While the race is known for volatile weather, Mother Nature smiled on 2015 participants with a crisp cool sunny day perfect for a spring classic.
It was certainly a perfect day for Matty Parker and James Wagner who went 1-2 in the Masters 65+ race! It was also a phenomenal day for Neil Marcus who took a second place by a narrow margin in the Masters 45+ race, beating nemesis Michael Stearns into third place.
The senior team had an up and down day placing two racers into the days winning break with 11th being their best placing for the day. Of note, it was Ryan McKinney's 17th Jeff Cup... That is a lot of laps on a tough course!! Below are race insights from Matty Parker and Neil Marcus:
[From Matty Parker] As I drove down to the race at 4:15 am Sunday, I was excited about doing Jeff Cup for the first time and competing in my new age category (finally!!). By the time I arrived, and drove the course, it was 19 degrees and I was dipping into my well used bag of excuses to justify turning around and going home. I don't even walk outside to get the newspaper when it's that cold, let alone race 50 miles.
After putting on every layer I had with me (including some well placed body warmers) and calling my wife for the third time, I just sucked it up and figured nobody on our team would actually care about why I didn't race but would care if I did well. So, as a matter of team and personal pride I did my 2 mile " warm-up" to the start, froze again waiting 5 minutes, and RACED.
Pretty quickly it was obvious that 1/3 of the combined 55/65 field was dropped, including the other men in my age group. But I wanted to make it a meaningful experience, so I stayed in the 55+ group for almost 2 laps. I was tucked in behind last years bar winner, the eventual 1st and 2nd place finishers and another rider, feeling great. Then, sporting my huge winter gloves, I must have shifted down and up to the big ring and dropped the chain. By the time I got it untangled from the crank arm the group was gone.
At that point, I thought about soft pedaling until some stragglers caught me. But, instead, decided NOT TO GET CAUGHT and ride as hard as I could. 30 solo miles later I finished, actually because of a registration error 15th in the 55+ group. It was lonely, really cold and tough to stay on task but I wanted to feel like I earned a win if, in fact, there were no 65+ riders in front of me.
When I got back to the school, got my check and Jeff Cup and Podium shots, It was terrific. But, as I was leaving, I saw most of the senior team and Neil Markus. They were totally pumped about the victory, seeming to care little that it was a diminutive field. As I said in my e-mail to the team, we are a special, gracious and loyal bunch of men and women. I am proud to have contributed A LITTLE BIT to our team reputation and culture of competition.
[From Neil Marcus] Here's the Executive Summary of my race day:
- I nailed stein in the forehead with a potato
- DJ hit my car with a sour cream laden potato
- Ryan hit my car with the celebratory pie I bought for everyone
- Ryan’s seat got mauled by a banana
- DJ better get Seal team 6 to guard his periwinkle bike
Here's the Full Report:
As the only Team Beyer Auto entry in a stacked 35+/ 45+ field my strategy was to never have my nose in the wind through first 40 of 60 miles. This would allow me to figure out who was strong and be ready to make a move with 10–15 miles left. At one point there was a group of 5–6 35+ riders with a gap of 20 seconds up the road.
I positioned myself on the wheel of a very strong 35+ racer and at the beginning of a long gradual uphill he
took off. I grabbed his wheel and rode it all the way across the gap. The Break Grew to 12 racers with the last lap being very animated.
With 2 miles to go a mini-break formed and I just followed wheels till the 200 meter mark when I sprinted to the line. If I had 5 more meters I would have had 1st place!