U23 rider Keith Mullaly explains the tactics and teamwork behind the success at this year’s notoriously difficult Purgatory Road Race, the Massachusetts State Road Race Championship.
Sunday was a fun race on top of a great day.
I hadn’t seen a lot of my old New England buddies in a while and it was great to see and race with them all again. Mentally I was in a decent place leading up to the race. I was still super sour about how Saturday’s race went but I knew I had to shrug it off and focus on my job: keep Ben in a clear and confident mental state and protect him for enemy combatants! (E.d. Keith raced the Nutmeg State Games Criterium in Connecticut on Saturday and though he won the U23 Connecticut State Criterium Championship there, he missed out on the top step of the Elite podium, his ultimate goal of the day.)
I had packed plenty of snacks, had teammates ready to feed fresh water to in the race, and I was just having a ball. The whistle went off and the fun began…
Zander did a fabulous job of riding top 15 or higher, watching dangerous moves, and just keeping the general presence of New England Devo at the front. This allowed Ben and I to chill and cruise in the back. The 3rd time up the climb, Z and I switched jobs after he came back from a break, and it was his turn to snack and rest up a little. Ben was still riding really strong and was the only MA U23 rider not dying up every climb. I pushed the pace on some sections, kept the flow at the front, and just watched for dangerous moves. I also dropped the field and was out of sight on the descent on the 5th lap just for fun! The last lap came and game faces came out. Ben glued himself to my wheel and we just followed as the attacks and surges came. Somehow I lead up the climb on the final lap and strung out the field for Ben. Zander was guarding and blocking the only other dangerous U23 rider that could challenge Ben, which was awesome because he was able to give Ben a warning and told him to attack at the right time to secure the U23 MA Championship. I was lucky enough to roll across the line in 10th.
The team garnered two Massachusetts State Championships, the U19 in Nate Ryan and the U23 in Ben Ryan. Ben Ryan also placed second on the Elite Podium and Kaia Schmid won the Women’s 4/5 race. Due to a NEBRA rule, Ben Ryan became ineligible for the U23 State Championship win because of his presence on the Elite Podium, ultimately giving Zander Chrystall the win in the U23 competition.