Sunday, June 5, 2011

Race Report: Domnarski Farm

Brian, Lukas and I piled in the team van (the Maguire Family Honda Odyssey) and traveled to scenic Ware MA for the Domnarski Farm race.  I texted Brian (The Falcon) earlier in the week to let him know that no Cat 2 racer had ever done the 10.41 mile lap in under one hour.  I thought it might motivate him.  Lukas, on the other hand, needed no motivation because his # 1 point series ranking put a target on his back and he was eager to defend! I was motivated by getting my butt whooped by Erik at Winsted. He's my main rival at this point (though he may not know it, lol) - great rider and guy and also 40 w/ young kids (ok, I'm 42 w/ one kid, and one loudly knocking on the door). 

On the ride up, Lukas was saying that he didn't remember the course having a lot of tough climbing.  I'm pretty sure he said that about Winsted too, so I didn't really believe him this time.  Turns out Domnarski has lots of climbing, of the steep and technical sort.  So my strategy going forward is to ask Lukas for his course description, and then plan for the opposite.

And we're off!

Actually, let me go back to the starting line, where I see a fellow I don't know lined up next to me in queue for the singlespeed Cat2 start line.  I inquire, and he says he's a Cat1 racer from another series - couldn't race Cat1 in Root 66 because he doesn't have his official promotion from US Cycling.  So a twenty-something year-old Cat1 dude racing down a category is about to kick all our butts.  yay.  Not his fault, just a weird USAC licensing thing. Anyway, guess it's a race for 2nd place between the rest of us.  Erik is there, as are the Nemba crew.  Good guys.  No Nathan this week as I guess he was working (according to wife Jen, who raced in Cat2 women).

Whistle and we're off (for real this time).  Erik starts ridiculously fast as usual, the Cat1 is on his back wheel, and very quickly I'm in 3rd by a gap of 30 yards or so. It was my best start, even though I felt way behind them.  The start was a technical Jeep road type track that turned into a very long hill.  I start picking my way through the rocks, trying to keep the top two in sight.  Towards the top of the climb I catch up to Erik.  He says "I knew you'd be coming" and gives me room to pass, and then says "go get him" - "him" being the Cat1 who's moving up up and away at a pace that I can't match.  I bobble a short time later and dismount to start pushing and see Erik riding up the hill but I think my hill training off the bike has helped as I'm not totally gassed pushing the bike like I was at Winsted.  I re-mount at a flat spot before Erik catches me and start chasing Cat1 dude again.

I pushed hard for the rest of the race but never see the Cat1, and never see Erik behind either.  For a while I was behind a Cat2 30-39 geared dude who lost his seat - he rode a couple tech features that I dabbed - awesome!  I had to get off on the powerline climb too - ended up running/walking behind another geared Cat2 who was spinning for all it was worth.  I encouraged him best I could and despite a football-sized boulder dislodging on his front wheel just before the top, he dug deep and made it up without dabbing.  I also caught an awesome pro or cat1 women's rider - she rocked the last steep, technical climb as I ran behind her.  Then she very kindly pulled well wide to let me pass as soon as I caught up to her on the DH.  Only one dude who wouldn't make space for me -  I'm very polite when passing but he didn't want to budge off the middle of the single track at all - so I had to pass through the woods around a tree.  He might've been gassing or zoned out or something (giving him the benefit of the doubt). 

The last part of the race is downhill through the woods and when I see cars I'm thinking "no way that's the parking lot." But it was.  I cross in 2nd in 1:01 and change.  Erik is 3rd a minute or two back. Cat1 guy finished in 58 and change.

Finn (L) and Erik (R) getting cash for podium from Matt Domnarski

I was really happy with my result, and loved the course.  Very tough climbing, lots of tech stuff, fun downhills and fast fire roads.  Launched a few small rocks and trail obstacles.    

The sub-hour motivation worked for Brian as he won Cat2 30-39 and became the first Cat2 to do the lap in under an hour.  The Falcon soars.

You guys plan this pose?
The most exciting moment of the race today came courtesy of Lukas literally roaring past the guy in 2nd place at the line.  I hope someone got a vid of that. So Lukas got 2nd in Cat2 40-49 and probably wore his medal to bed.  (Lukas is getting very fast...shhhh).

Lukas, ever the rock star
So a win and two 2nds for the boys from Cape Cod.  Not too shabby. 

The dude who organizes this race, Matt Domnarski, basically opens up his horse farm to it.  He lets racers ride on his property whenever they want (as long as they let him know) and lets people swim in his pond after the race. And he pays out in cash.  Awesome dude.  I think he's a pilot for the state police too, which is pretty badass (unless you have a pot farm).

Course description: start goes about 50 yards and then bottlenecks into a technical Jeep road  hill that turns into a steep rocky climb.  Then some single track and logging roads and halfway through there's a couple more climbs, the first a loooong and rocky fire road, the second a technical and steep-in-spots climb up the power lines.  There's one more section of very technical singletrack climbing and then it's lots of downhill single and rocky double track.  It was really fun, though I gather it wouldn't be quite as fun in the rain. 

My 34/20 gearing was good, though I did have to dismount a few times.  There were some long sections of flat stuff, though, so I definitely wouldn't go with a smaller gear.  Just need to find some bigger hills to train on.

Next up is Pat's Peak.  That will be 19 days before Kristy's due date of July 1, though, so it's up in the air if I'll race it or not.  Was leaning towards not, but Kristy said it might be ok.  May be an early Sunday morning decision.


  1. nice write-up. I'm new to Domnarski farm. Racing cat2 SS this Sunday. You thinks 32x20 is too small o gear? At SSAP this year two guys riding 32x20 placed ahead of me (I was 17th open/pro) while I was on 32x18. To spin and climb everything, or to fly on the flat stuff... that is the question.

    Your input is appreciated and good luck if you make it Ware this weekend.

  2. Hi Adin-
    I'm going to grind out the climbs in 32x18 so I have enough gear for the fire road and flat parts. If you feel like you can grind the bigger gear, go for it, but if you don't feel like you can, then 20 will feel better for sure. For me, I just don't feel like I'd have a shot at staying with the fast guys without the 18. Good luck!!!

  3. Thanks for the input Finn. After watching some of the '11 race videos, looks like a lot of 19T out back it is. Say hello if you're riding cat2. I have funky ti alt bars and a grin on my face.