This being pretty much the end of the season there were several of us that decided to go out with a bang and race Saturday and Sunday; and of course the weather further aided our decision. I was originally scheduled for Saturday and had planned to take the lovely Mrs. Crazy Bike Racer to Smithville for Oktoberfest on Sunday; but she can't tolerate the heat so she decided we should re-schedule for the Irish Festival next Saturday. Being the ever thoughtful husband I was more than happy to accomodate her request and immediately started making plans for Prospect Park on Sunday morning. Who says I'm not a family guy? And besides that, Bavarian beer or Irish beer, what's the difference?
So saturday it was me and Mark in the 45+ and 3/4; Ryan and Dan also in 3/4 and Dennis in Cat 5. This one was a bit of a drive, about 2 1/2 hours with a late start (10:00am). We arrived around 8:45 and checked out the course which was beautiful. It's in Cedar Creek Park ( get it ? Tour De Parc; how clever!). The course is a one mile crit, kind of an elongated oval. Fresh pavement, an easily negotiated U-turn at one end a slight hill leading into a sweeping S-turn at the other end with two long flats. My kinda course, flat and fast. Dennis was doing his next-to-last Cat 5 race (we're all holding you to that upgrade!) and he was up first with a (10) lap (mile) race. There were about 30 - 35 in his race. The first lap looked extremely fast and at least 5 or 6 guys saw there race-day dreams crushed by the second turn. The pace backed off (like it always does) and it turned into your typical Cat 5 crit. Several attacks, but nobody gettin' more than 100m on the field. On the last lap the group was still together and as they came out of the final turn I could see Dennis on the outside about mid-pack. It's a long 300m to the finish and I thought he had gone too early, but he managed to hold on and move up to 4th as he crossed the line; notching another nice Cat 5 finish.
Me and Mark were up next in 45+ and I sniffed out trouble right away. The field was small, 20-25 guys; that's a problem. Aubrey Gordon, Glen Scneider,Doug O'Neil, Vladimir Borokov, and the two crazy polish guys from High Gear;that's a BIG PROBLEM! I was hoping these guys would keep it together and we could just have a nice quiet race with a nice bunch sprint at the end. Well, that didn't happen. The first lap we rolled out at an easy 22-23 mph, and then BAM! The hammer dropped and we're doin' 32 for 1/2 a lap. Then it re-grouped and I'm thinkin' "okay, survived that, no problem". Then they did again and again and again. After 4 laps I decided (wisely) to call it a day and start thinkin' about the 3/4 race. Meantime these guys were doin' about as much damage as possibe. Glen, Doug, and Vladimir were off the front and were hammerin' at what looked to be in excess of 26mph. They started lappin' guys pretty quickly and the officials were pullin' lapped riders. There was a chase group of (5) and Mark was in a chase group of (4). Everyone else was GONE! Mark was doin' some hard pulls and they lasted until (7) to go (of 20 laps total) when they got the hook. That left (
guys on the road. The last group of five got caught and the group finished in a bunch sprint with Vladimir (surprisingly) nailin' the win. What a display of horsepower!
I wasn't feelin' too confident goin' into the 3/4 but I figured with 60-70 riders I would have a chance if I could get into a rythm. Also, with 25 miles to race the pack might go just a hair slower. And that's exactly what happened. It was a brisk pace, but not indecent. Definitely fast enough that
any breaks would have a hard time surviving. I settled in and surprisingly felt real comfortable. Ryan was hanging near the front trying to decide what to chase and what to let go. Me, Mark, and Dan were moving around the pack at will and pretty much waiting to see how things played out. The race fell into a pattern. Fly down the front tailwind stretch at 30+, break and take it safe and easy around the U-turn, out of the saddle hard sprint into the headwind, and then die about half-way up. Then hit the hill (where I surprisingly moved up 10-20 places each lap) and back on the gas. With about five to go Dan went to the front and started to chase down several of the smaller moves, trying to keep Ryan fresh. Me and Mark were pretty much lookin' to finish after gettin' pounded in 45+; and on the last lap it was all together. The field predictably attacked the last time over the hill and the sprint was on! And I was off! Me, Mark, and Dan came in at the back of the main field; at least Dan could claim he did some work for the team. Me and Mark were just happy for a pack finish after gettin' shellacked in the 45+; and Ryan ended up with a decent 8th place. So a decent if not great day. I was happy to prove I could hang with the Cat 3's and rack up race # 49 on the season. Mark got some decent work. Dan showed his work-horse strength again, and we pulled two more top tens.All of the NYC guys were there and the only other guys I recognized were Nikoli from 3d (strong, 16 year old who nailed 2nd in the 3/4) and Mark Costa (also 3d) who was looking good in the 35+ when we left.
The only downer was sittin' on the Long Island Expressway and havin' a three hour drive home, just in time for Prospect on Sunday!