The DIRTy Mitten Racing League crew snuck in a microTour before the holidays. Carving out a 3 stage race between family parties, office get-togethers and what will probably be an endless round of colds, flus and COVIDs, a hearty and dedicated crew put in some huge efforts to earn their sugar cookies.
Devised by race organizer Brad Hochstetler, the Roast Chestnuts was essentially a charicature of month-long events; all of the normal features are there, just exaggerated. With a 6 mile individual time trial, a sprint stage with a very interesting twist, and a Queen Stage with more than 3,000 feet of elevation.
Inspired by the most beloved films of the season, three 9-person teams squared off, with a host of “unaffiliated” riders dipping in for 1 or 2 stages over the weekend.
- Red Ryders
- Bumpus Hounds
Roasted Chestnuts Tour Stage 1
The 6 miles iTT kicked things off on Watopia Flat Route. The name is somewhat deceptive, as plenty of riders found out. The Esses and the short rolling climbs in the final 4km took their toll and opened up some surprisingly big time gaps.
After strong rides from Chris Ostberg, Steve Harris and Jesse Brennan on Thursday, a slew of GC contenders stormed the top ten. Jon Roobal took the top spot with a blistering 13:38 and 6 precious seconds on Winter is Coming 3 winner Jeb Stone and Dan Yankus. Slotted behind Ostberg, Al McWilliams was still looking dangerous 24 seconds back.
The key to the Red Ryders’ win was Stone’s 5-point buffer for the win. Collin Snyder, Wes Sovis and Ben Price all scored 70 points or more, putting the squad in a good spot heading into Saturday’s curveball.
Stage 1 points:
- Red Ryders: 688
- Griswolds: 661
- Bumpuses: 652
The 26-mile ride on France’s RGV route offered an excellent twist. For only the second time in DMRL history, riders were forced (literally forced by Zwift settings) onto mountain bikes, with B riders on the slightly faster gravel bike. C and D riders were allowed the fastest bikes for the course, road bikes. This was a nifty curveball for the Roasted Chestnuts Tour; but did it do anything?
It worked incredibly well.
After a long flat section, a slew of sprints and two trips up the short Aqueduct “climb” saw the most diverse mix of points scoring yet. Of the top ten points scorers on the day, there were 3 Bs, 5 As and 2 Cs, with only 1 A in the top 6.
The bike selection even forced that most unusual of Zwift events: a breakaway. Brad Pauly, Dan Yankus, Kyle Shutte, Brent Wiersema, Jon Roobal, Al McWilliams and Ben Shields took off and, with each team represented, there was almost no chase behind. That left Jeb Stone the odd man odd, losing 1 minute to stage winner Brad Pauly and 57 seconds to Yankus. Roobal did enough to hold yellow into the Queen Stage.
Red Ryders were confident after Saturday’s showing, with strong options on the climbs. Roobal, Stone and Snyder were ready to take on what is very likely the hardest stage in DIRTy Mitten Racing League history.
At 45.1 miles and a tidy 3,219 feel of elevation, the Media Fondo map kept plenty of nervous awake at night, much like the anxious child awaiting a bevy of disposable, imported corporate products wrapped in brightly colored, unsustainable wrapping paper. While all categories would be on the fastest bikes possible, the Queen Stage reprised the successful split pen format from WIC3. The C/D riders would be spared a trip up the Epic KOM and, in the spirit of giving, allowed a 6-minute headstart.
They’d still have to tackle the reverse Zwift KOM and the Volcano climb, plus a jaunt up the Jungle for a lap. The Cs also presented a tactical opportunity; focus on staying away as long as possible to sweep up the First Across Line sprint points or ride conservatively for a stronger finish? Would a team’s C squad swap bikes, A squad swap, both or none?
Both the A and C fields were essentially together (but separate, and not equal) over the reverse KOM and onto the Volcano Climb. The 8-minute effort was enough to shred both fields, but as the groups solidified, the Griswolds were well represented in both groups. Tom O’Hagan squared off with Ben Price and Mike Reeves, with Jesse Brennan and Sam Wittbrodt giving Griswold plenty of representation.
Ben Price (Red Ryders) scored the most points on the day, only 2 clear of O’Hagan, but O’Hagan’s squad put 5 riders in the family station wagon that is the top ten. The squad cemented the strong showing with in the dust of the jungle and slopes of the Epic KOM.
In the jungle, there were plenty of bike swaps, although only Griswold from the front pack went for it. At first, it looked like a disaster. Yankus and Sovis rode off after fast changes, but Ben Shields lost ground and settled into the chase pack. It was a nail-biting few minutes before the pair caught back on, but hardly another second until Yankus dropped the hammer. It was enough to gap Roobal and, eventually, put in enough time for Yankus to swap back before eventually being caught by Jeb Stone and Al McWilliams.
Related: Winter is Coming 3 Stage 6 Recap
Behind, Sovis was eventually caught by Roobal, and the pair stuck just under a minute behind to the KOM. McWilliams was in a tight spot; up against two of the best climbers in the race, with each playing the “I have a teammate behind” card. McWilliams but in plenty of digs but paid for it over the top of the Epic.
Yankus did more than enough to take the stage win just under 2 hours of racing and take the GC as well. McWilliams was third on the stage and second on GC, with Roobal ceding a podium spot to Stone. Sovis, Chris Ostberg, Kyle Schutte, Ben Shields and a dogged Collin Snyder filled out the top 9 spots, with Griswold’s Ted Schneider giving the team 4 riders in the top ten of the A race.
You can see the stage-by-stage points tallies at the Roasted Chestnuts Tour page on DirtyMittenRacingLeague.com.
Love fake virtual bike racing? Stay up to speed and get our weekly newsletter, Off The Back, in your inbox every Thursday.