The Tour of the Hilltowns is a classic mid-summer road race held in Windsor, Massachusetts. The race features hot weather, 7,000 feet of climbing, fast descents, rural scenery and the famous climb up East Hawley Hill Road. The Pro 1/2 race includes an extra loop along Route 116 and Route 9 and is 97 miles long. Conditions at the start are dry and calm. Temperatures at the start are in the mid 80s. Frame and Wheel joins about 60 riders. Frame and Wheel is running Zipp 303 Firecrest Stallion build tubulars with Vittoria EVO Corsa 24 mm tires on the Austro-Daimler Superleicht Carbon Di2 Champagne and is very pleased with the combination.
The field is neutral for the first seven miles. Racing begins on Route 116 and is characterized by a series of attacks that are promptly reeled in. A break finally forms and includes about 15 riders. It is out of sight, but not more than one minute and a half up the road. The field begins to sit up until a Jelly Belly riders inspires some energy with colorful language; it has the desired effect. On Route 9 the break is in view. Frame and Wheel follows a few riders who are pushing the pace on the three mile climb to the start finish. Frame and Wheel is soon alone in the purgatory that is the space between the break and the field. Frame and Wheel is unable to reach the the break and is joined by the field soon after the turn onto Route 8A. The field is much smaller now and a more organized and faster chase group. Frame and Wheel recovers on the descent on West Hawley Road which is fast and characterized by technical turns and some rough road. The field is small so this section is not as stressful as it can be when the group is big.
East Hawley Hill Road marks the beginning of the climbing. Frame and Wheel is able to get to the front and bridge over to a rider who has created a gap on the field. Frame and Wheel holds this wheel up the switch back and the gradual climb that follows. At the end of the climb, the field consists of seven riders. This group works together on catching the break for the next 30 miles. This is hard work. The rotations are fast and recovery time is limited. Frame and Wheel feels the effort and is convinced that this is the hardest part of the race. What is left of the break is in view for a moment when the chase group arrives at the base of the three mile climb on Route 9. Frame and Wheel is at the front and keeps the pace high after other riders decline to pull through. At one kilometer to go, Ben Wolf (Jelly Belly) attacks followed by Ryan Serbel (Aetna Cycling Team). Frame and Wheel is able to catch on to the acceleration, but that is it. The pace is fast all the way to the line. The race is over. Frame and Wheel finishes in 9th place (2011: 19th) and is very pleased with the result. Frame and Wheel thanks the organizers for putting on a classic and well run event.
|Here there be towns in the hills|
|smooth stiff ride|