I rode the Mark Nicholson Smack Down Route today and had some thoughts on routing and sprint points, which I here submit for general discussion and voting. First, the route…I suggest the following change to the route. When you get back to Tourtellot Hill Road, take a right instead of a left. (this is how Mark G. and I originally marked the route, but Mark N. originally intended the route to turn left on Tourtellot Hill Road and go back to Snake Hill Road.) This change only adds a couple miles to the route, but keeps more to back roads. And then, instead of taking Elmdale all the way back to Snake Hill, I propose we cut over to 116 on Pole Bridge Road, followed by a quick jog onto Winsor Ave, which is a much nicer way back than Smith Ave and Greenville Ave.
Now, on to sprints:
Sprint 1: This one is about a mile after you get to the top of Austin on Mapleville Road, marked by a rock on the side of the road painted to look like a Whale. I don’t particularly like this sprint. If I’m feeling good, I’ll launch my sprint from just after the top of Austin, and try to solo to the line. If that doesn’t work, however, I generally sit out, because I find that sprint scary as hell. Here’s why: The run up to the line is mostly flat, but just before you get there, you veer slightly to the left, crest a tiny little bump and descend for about 10 meters before you hit the line. It’s wicked fast, and completely blind. We’re pretty militant about enforcing the yellow line rule on the whole ride, but if someone ignores it here, and there happens to be a car coming……Instead, I’d propose to move the sprint point forward by at least 50 meters. There aren’t any landmarks as nice as the whale, but we could make the spint to one of the side streets. Or, closer to the top of Austin, there’s a Water tower thingy, or we could move it back to the intersection with Mapleville, which then makes the sprint more of a KOM. I kind of liked that this was a hard hill to figure out tactically, because the sprint was so far from the top of the hill, but close enough that it would pose difficulties for pure sprinters.
Sprint 2: no problems there. still love that one.
Sprint 3: This one has always been a bit confusing. When Mark G. and I selected it, we didn’t really have it in mind to be a climb, so we consciously chose a spot that wasn’t the top of a hill. But unfortunately the spot we picked is the second to last crest before the top of the East side of Douglas Hook. It just seems counterintuitive to sprint for that point, only to have the steepest and hardest part of the climb immediately following. I’d propose moving the sprint to the top, and make this one a KOM too.
Sprint 4: Tourtellot Hill. no problems here either.
Then, I think it would be nice to add one more sprint, something more tailored for big riders/sprinters. There aren’t so many great options, but here are 2 that might work:
1. Chepatchet. There’s always been sort of an informal competition to be the first one to the intersection of Douglas Hook and Rt. 44. We generally hang out in the parking lot here waiting for stragglers. The descent down Douglas Hook is very fast, so a sprint point at the parking lot would definitely favor the bigger riders, but only if they make it to the Sprint 3 in decent shape and not too far off the back. Someone like Greve or Gewilli could make up serious ground on the descent and be in contention for the win. And someone like me, even if I have 100 meters at the top of Douglas Hook, will find it almost impossible to hold the lead all the way to Chepatchet.
2. Intersection of Elmdale and Harmony Road. This would be after the top of Tourtellot Hill Road. Generally the last part of the ride after the hill is a little disorganized because there’s no real sprint points to keep people together. Some people hammer, others just let it go. If we added one more sprint in this area, it’d probably keep things a little more interesting. Plus the big riders will be out for blood after Tourtellot. At the spot I picked, there’s a road (Harmony) coming in from the left, with a big blue sign for “Harmony Farms.” Should be easy to spot. the road is pretty open, not too trafficky. There are quite a few curves in the road on the lead in, but not in a bad way. Seems like it’d be a fun sprint.