When I write about my pretend bike racing career, I always try to dive little deeper into the meaning and feelings behind what motivates me to get up at 3:30 in the g-damn morning on a Saturday and schlep myself to New York City to galavant around public parks in my bike underwear. I do this because reports that are simply recaps of race action and tactics are tremendously boring. Like “tell me again about your Scrabble cruise to Jamaica, Aunt Sadie” boring. So I don’t always delve deep into race strategy or planning, because once again, Aunt Sadie.
Saturday morning’s race set up was an 8.7 (the .7 is because the race didn’t end where it started) lap points race, which in laymen’s terms meant we’d be sprinting eight times for 53 miles for points rewarded to the top three racers across the line, the points would then be totaled and whoever had the most points would be declared the winner. As a race format, it is both simple and revolting. Well, revolting to someone like me, who has virtually no chance at winning a field sprint. That self-assessment may sound bluntly pessimistic and there may be some among you who think that this negative defeatist thinking serves to self-sabotage my ambitions, and that I should start thinking positively and then I can will myself into the New Jersey version of Mario Cipollini. This is preposterous, of course. Somehow we as a society have come to the point where we believe that we can somehow magically will ourselves into becoming anything we please. I’m not saying that a positive attitude can’t help you in most aspects of your daily life, because it can, but when it comes to sporting matters, a positive attitude can only get you so far. It can get you out the door and upon the road to health and vigor, but I can wish and dream all I want—I am not going to morph my body structure into that of a sprinter. I have a greater chance of mentally transforming myself into an ocelot than I do of mentally imaging myself into a sprinter. It just comes down to physiology, and I have the physiology of slow.
Having come to this conclusion many years ago, I therefore seek to help teammates who aren’t slow to do well in sprints. Like many teams, we on Team Rockstar have a team email account where we share team information and make fun of each other’s butts. In the week before Saturday’s race, we formulated a loose plan for how we would approach the sprints in the race, with the team agreeing that we would lead out Sprinter Josh and then other classified activities would occur. The plan seemed solid until Sprinter Josh injured himself in either a mountain biking or Warrior Princess Xena cosplay accident—I can’t recall which—so we adjusted our plan to accommodate working for Greg, who can sprint also. We as a team were looking forward to Saturday’s race, because racing bikes for a reason is fun.
Saturday morning arrived, and we were out in force. Myself, Greg, Pascal, Aaron, Chris, Pablo, Paul, Andrew, Jonas, Victor and Ben all showed up. And if you are a careful reader and counter and have an intimate knowledge of CRCA race rules, you would immediately realize that we had eleven racers, one racer over the limit. Luckily Ben generously volunteered to sit out the race, and with our roster adjusted, the field shoved off and we immediately set about trying to bike murder one another. During races, I try to keep track of certain details to help pass the time and one detail I note is lap time in Central Park. A 15 minutes a lap of Central Park is a walking pace, in a manner of speaking. Once you get below 14 minutes things gets serious, and when you are hovering around the 13 minute mark your average speed is just above 28 miles per hour. This means two things: ouch and if that speed holds, there won’t be any breakaways because trying to escape a pack going 28 miles per hours is really challenging.
I watched my Garmin as we just kept doing lap after lap near the 13 minute mark. many times in points races, there will be attacks in the lull after the sprints, but there weren’t really any lulls in the race. We went for most of the sprints with Greg, but positioning was challenging because there were lots of people in the race who wanted to sprint also. We bumped, grunted and wobbled our way through about six laps until teammate Jonas thankfully got away with teammate Victor joining him in an 8-ish rider group. In normal points races this is where those left in the pack come to their senses and realize that all the points are up the road and the race pace relents. Unfortunately, Lupus and Rapha had been caught out of the break and they decided to chase, denying us the chance to relax in the pack.
The break was caught, and due to being mighty and scoring points Victor was promoted to sprinter. Mercifully, the end of the race was near, and we assembled near the front to help him towards the finish. Some of us (not me) were able to help Victor gain points on the last lap, and he finished a fine fifth place in the race. I finished the race in a n amazingly un-murdered fashion, as we had kept an overall pace of 27.8 miles per hour for 53 miles, which I proclaim is a record for myself in a CRCA club race because it seemed fast and I don’t have Strava data for any races that were faster.