As Isaac Brock said “500 miles is long time inside a car” in fact I think he said “It’s a real long time inside of a car.” Pittsburgh is 550 miles from the beaches of Goddard Park in Warwick, R.I., and I will agree with the words of Mr. Brock it is a real long time in a car, and certainly so after a day of racing and running around with a camera in hand.
As my travel partner and I headed into an endless wall of thick night fog across our beautiful, seemingly endless state of Pennsylvania hoping to make it home before night creeped too far into the morning we discussed how this time spent driving was well worth it. We wondered if the people who get to live and race in the New England area take it for granted that they have access to the best around. When you have lots of time with nothing to do but drive it gives you time to think, to listen to your favorite albums, podcasts, books on tape or talk about what might have been the highlight of the year.
Lets go back to Oct. 1, 2011, where an unattached Anthony Clark got 33rd at a misty and muddy Gloucester course. This was the first time I had seen or even heard of Anthony and the only reason I noticed was that around every corner that there were spectators people were screaming “FREAK OUT!!!” “C’MON ANTHONY FREAKOUT!!!” and I supposed that’s what he did.
Clark had this wild elbows out, hunched over the bars, upper body bobbing up down pedaling style that would just produce insane amounts of power. You could hear the tires squishing in and out of the soft ground as he went by the pits like an angry gorilla trying to rip the handle bars from the stem, but for every group of 5-10 he would pass he would dump it in the corners and lose 4 spots and then repeat. Fast forward a year later and I watch him start riding into the top tens and then riding in the group with Jeremy Powers at the Cycle Smart International. Clark’s progression over the years has been impressive to watch, only solidifying the mystique of the JAM Fund and Alec Donahue as some sort of cyclocross Yoda, training an army of Jedis on two wheels.
This weekend in Warwick the JAMfunders showed just how powerful they have become. Day 1 saw Ellen Noble slipping away from Emma White to take the win and in the men’s field Scott Smith, Jack Kisseberth and the master himself Alec Donahue found themselves in the top 10 all weekend. It was however Clark who would take the top step on day 2 after a second place on day 1 to solidify the New England Verge series overall.
As we drove across Interstate 80 snacking on Fruit Newmans and day old pizza we came to the conclusion that this was good weekend, maybe even a great one and that yes maybe driving 500 miles just to race a bike for an hour each day is perhaps a little crazy but if I have learned anything from watching Anthony Clark over the last 4 years it is that you have to be a little crazy to succeed.