There's an old saying, "If you do abnormal things often enough, you begin to think they're normal". That's kinda where me and Dennis are at with Prospect. Up at 3:00 am, on the road by 3:30, up to Brooklyn, race at 6:30; back home by 10:30 - 11:00. Perfectly normal.
Todays trip had the added twist that New Jersey is apparently on fire and Rt 206 was closed down. So we had an unexpected detour up into Atco through Medford and on up. We arrived at 5:45 with plenty of time to get ready. We could still smell the smoke when we were crossing into New York.
Dennis was set for 18 miles in Cat 5, I was due for 31 miles in Cat 4. The fields were full today, 100 riders in the 1/2/3, 80 Cat 4's, and 44 Cat 5's. I love the big fields, ya just sit in and rocket around the park. Today was extremely smooth as the 1/2/3's didn't catch anybody so there was no confusion.
There's a pretty decent climb about a 1/2 mile from the start/finish, it's about 1/2 - 3/4 mile long at a 6% grade ( according to one of the guys whose got one of those altimeter do-jams on his bike computer. Cool!). I usually have no time for a warm-up, so my "big plan" is to keep it in the small ring for most of the first lap and just spin my balls off 'till I have to shift to the big'un. Today, thank God, they took it easy for the first lap. We were scheduled for nine laps, that meant nine trips up the hill.That is pretty much my whole game plan for Prospect, just find a way over the hill each lap with-out getting dropped. The hill isn't that bad, but when they start climbing at 22 mph or above I start havin' to dig deep. Anything under 20 mph doesn't hurt too bad. I have several skill sets I use. If the approach isn't too fast, I'll go to the front and climb backwards through the group, giving up 20 or 30 positions on the way up; this saves a lot of energy. If the pace is steady I'll ride "on the tops" which seems to save my legs (don't know why,different muscle group?). And usually several of the laps it's just ride as hard as you can and maintain your position.
So today was typical, easy first lap. pretty hard 2nd and 3rd lap. By the 4th or 5th lap things had settled into the usual pattern. Some attacks, some attempted breaks, some hard riding followed by some recovery. About mid race we had one very hard lap and I started with some of my "positive internal dialog". Something along the lines of " I really suck", "there's no way I'm upgradin' to Cat 3" " screw Doylestown tomorrow, I'll make up an excuse and get some sleep", " I can't believe I pre-reged for the 4/5 AND the 3/4 for tomorrow; I'm a slow old man". Once I get all of those positive affirmations out of the way, the pace usually breaks and I start to recover a bit and start to think about the race again.
With three laps to go I was feeling okay, with two to go the field was apparently tired. The pace was quick, but not brutal. Last lap, last time up the hill I was with the front end of the pack and holding my own. I had enough in the tank to at least think about a strong finish. The end of the race at Prospect is a little hairy, after the last climb there's a 40 mph downhill that flattens out about a 1000 meters from the finish. There's three kinds of racers in most events; guys that are thrilled to have finished and will gladly come in at the back of the pack (about half of the riders). The guys that are capable of winning and may have enough team mates there to make an honest run of it( 10-20 guys). And guys like me who really aren't able to win based on strength, but are consistently in the top 20 and can break the top ten if they time everything right(it would take an act of Congress for me to win, but it'll happen sooner or later). And that's how today stacked up.
We came screamin' off the bottom of the hill at 40+. Two team were settin' up for the sprint, Organic Athlete had 4 - 5 guys on the left and Kissena had 4 - 5 guys on the right with Westwood Velo and United rounding out the top 20. I was right on the back of the Organic guys as we charged across the flat at 28-30 heading for the final burst. The pace was high and guys were moving up, then blowin' and fallin' off. I kept surfin' from wheel to wheel, trying to stay in the top ten and not take any wind till the last moment. This is some very intense stuff; what a friggin'n rush!As we came around the last final gentle right hand sweeper the final sprint started with a rush as Organic, Kissena, and United lit it up. I held on the outside to the left, a lane opened, and I had a nice clear shot at the line. I came up, out of the saddle, head up, and drove to the line behind the Organic guys for a nice 15th place. I know, not exactly the win, but I'll take it. There was no official result past 8th place, Dennis saw the finish and figured me around 15th, I counted 12 or 13 bikes in front of me after we crossed the line, I'll stand by 15th and call it a day. The only thing I don't like about Prospect is the limited placings. The results melee at the end of the race is always a mess with guys hounding the officials,
arguments, occassional fist fights; after all, this IS New York City. If Idon't have a solid top ten, I call it a day and head on home. In the Cat 5 race Dennis maintained his streak with another top ten, coming in 10th place. So a decent day for both of us; solid not spectacular.
Tomorrow it's me and Big Dan heading for Doylestown. Dan's doin' the 5 and the 4/5, I'm doin' the 4/5 and will start the 3/4 and see how long I survive(very low probability on more than a lap or two for the second one, wanna try and get the cost down to about $5.00 per mile).
Steve Smith pulled a nice 2nd in age group, 6th overall in his duathlon today and I'm waiting to hear from Caleb, he did Deodate today in Lancaster (on his way out to Montana for a wedding). Anybody else out there with any results? Oh, and Bob Jansen was too modest to mention the nice 10th place he pulled in the 3/4 at the Robert Fulton RR last week. That was a difficult, 50+ mile RR in the hills of Lancaster that also served as the Pa State Championship race; so Bob again proving he climb with the best of them.
Next week Medford, 8/11. Burlington on 8/18. And (drum roll please) the
State Crit on 8/26!