So for today it was me, Ryan, and Joey D. all packed into the mini-van headin' north for a 6:30 am appointment with New York's finest. It was supposed to be cold, but to be honest it wasn't too bad. The wind was moderate compared to the past few days and it wasn't snowing. As I write this I'm watchin' the pro's racin' in a blizzard down in Virginia. Welcome to the Amercian Spring Classics. Joe and Ryan were doin' the cat 5, I'm thinking they're gonna go 1 - 2. I was slated for the 3/4, I'm thinking I'll be sprinting for 39th. The turn out was fairly strong considering the weather, 40-45 in the cat 5 and 65-70 in the 3/4. The rest of the team was either beatin' each other up on the club ride or down at Sandy Hook TTn'. Joey started things off by pre-reging for the wrong race, he signed up for Central Park which runs tomorrow ( not as stupid as it sounds, same series, same promoter; but still semi- stupid). In an unusual display of brotherly love the promoter transfered his reg fee, he probably felt sorry for us after we drove two hours thinking we're just a bunch of dumb Piney's. Maybe we are a bunch of dumb Piney's.
So the plan in cat 5 was simple. They were doin' 25 miles, 7 laps. With two laps to go Joe would attack on the hill, get a gap, and Ryan would bridge up. Then a 2-man TT with Ryan settin' Joe up for the win.Kinda like Lance workin' for Hincapie in the early season. And it damn near worked! The only fly in the ointment was that Joe was doin' way too much work including a long solo break and burned a lot of his reserves. When the time came, however, Joe made his move. Ryan bridged up and was tailed by a strong man he remembered from last week. Now the three of them were away with five miles to go. Joe couldn't hold the pace (too much early work) and dropped back to the pack. Ryan and his break away partner came in side by side with 200m to go and Ryan dusted him for the victory making it a perfect six for six on the season. Joey finished off a hard days work by winning the field sprint for a nice third place. It's pretty rare that a plan is even implemented in the lower categorys let alone works; and they damn near pulled it off! Excellent job guys.
My plan was far less complex. a) Don't crash b) Don't get dropped c) Dont' burst the potato-sized contusion on my hip.We were set for 10 laps, 34 miles. Of the four 3/4 races I've done so far this year (all of which I've finished with the front bunch I might add. I thrive on minor victories!) the pace has been moderate, I was hoping for more of the same today. That's me, always the vicious competitor. At Prospect it has been customary to start out semi-easy; there's no time for a warm-up, it's dark, it's cold. I usually leave it in the small ring, get up and over the hill, and I'm totally warmed up by the end of the first lap. Today they decided to hit it pretty hard and I was red-linin' it for most of the first two laps ( not that it takes much). Things settled down and I caught my breadth, the race settled into the usual predictable pattern. Every 3/4 race I've been in has gone the same way; a coupla hot laps then after a brief rest the attacks start, breaks form and stay away for a while, the group chases them down, and it starts all over again. These New Yorkers know the park inside out. They let the break go and then they run 'em down on the long downhill sections. A big group can flat out fly down the hill ( I know I do my best work goin' downhill, preferably with a tail wind) compared to a small group. At some point the winning break goes and the pack settles in for the final sprint for table scraps. The trick is to figure out which break is gonna stick. Not a problem for me, I'm to damn weak to chase any of 'em. I just sit back and watch the action. Kinda like a combination of cyclingtv.com and the exercise channel. And of course there's always the possibility that the whole mess will come back together and all the real racers will be exhausted and I can sneak in for a top ten. Jens Voight might not approve, but it works for me.
So the pack dutifully ran down all the breaks; that is until two guys went with a half lap to go and quickly put some serious time into the field. They got away clean and got the deserved victory. Given my recent demolition derby style of racing I had pretty much decided to sit up with 500m to go and call it a good day's training( I'm not sure, I may have heard a collective sigh of relief from the peloton when they realized I would not be contesting the sprint. Or maybe somebody farted, not sure). Anway with 1000m to go I found myself sliding up through the pack. With 500m to go I was top 25. I love the final sprint; guys yellin', teams tryin' to set up their lead-out, out-of shape riders falling off like their chain just broke. With 200m to go some seams were forming and I'm thinkin' another wheel-sucker top ten. I slid through a coupla openings, gave it a little out-of-the saddle kick, and came through in what Ryan charitably called top fifteen, I'll call it an honest top twenty and put it down as a solid training race. The pace today was a little faster, around 23 mph in the cat 5, 23.8 mph in the 3/4. Fairly good day's work considering the cold and the wind.
So Ryan and Joey got 'er done. I survived. My contusion didn't explode(you oughta see it, it's pretty impressive. It looks like that little guy on Arnold Schwarzenneger's chest in Total Recall). And another one in the books. I'm watchin' the end of the US Pro race, some Canadian guy named Svein somethin' just won it. All I can say Ryan is if you ever make it to the pro level, God help ya. Those guys blast it in these one day races.
Thats it, your "bruised but not beaten" from the saddle reporter,