I must admit that I’ve been less than vigilant in speedily posting my race reports as of late—this is due mostly to me not being able to musters any poops about typing about pedaling my bike around. The season has settled into a rhythm and that rhythm has all the appeal of an album of Ted Cruz freestyle rhymes about Chunky Soup. Yes, dear friends, it’s the time of the year for bike ennui, or “binnui”. In years past, I’ve treated my binnui with impulse bike stuff purchases or alcohol, but this year I’m keeping myself interested in myself by delving into data. And this week, I’m comparing the data from two venerable midweek racing series, the Tuesday race at Floyd Bennett Field and the Thursday night race at Rockleigh.
Both races have their fans bases. FBF attracts a crowd mostly from Brooklyn and Manhattan, with a few assorted nuts from Jersey and Long Island thrown in. The Rockleigh crowd is mostly Jersey, Rockland County and Manhattan riders. There’s not a lot of overlap between the two crowds, racers seem to choose either one weeknight race or the other, with a few (probably unemployed) racers doing both. This bifurcation of the racer herd into two weeknight factions create the temptation to compare the difficulty of the two races almost irresistible, so I will not resist that desire and I will now tempt fate and endeavor to compare the two weeknight races.
To compare the races against one another, I willow using a very specialized metric, the schmalz athletic dynamic (SAD) score. When it comes to bikes, I am the acme of mediocrity. I am strong enough to not get dropped, yet not strong enough to impose my will upon the race. I am the cardio vascular troll underneath the bridge that separates the mighty from the hopeless. I will be using my Strava files from the last two races I’ve participated in (June 9th at Rockleigh and June 14th at FBF) to compare the efforts needed to survive in each race.
First up is FBF on June 14th. It was a typical FBF night with the wind not playing a huge role. The average speed was 27.0 miles per hour over 29.0 miles (we did an extra lap due to a referee mix up—free racing!) and my average HR was 175 bpm, with a max of 192. Strava estimated my power average at 368 watts, which seems absolutely ridiculous, but it’s a quasi-stat, so I’ll put it in here anyway. There was some ouch going on there, but not enough to drop me from the field. (My teammate Chris S made the late break and finish a fine fifth also.) All in all, it was a usual Tuesday night of bike punching one another at FBF.
At Rockleigh on June 9th, there were also many attacks and counters and bike punches galore. I didn’t include the first two neutralized laps, because they were ridden at a gentlemanly pace. We averaged 26.9 miles per hour over 25.3 miles, my average HR was again 175 bpm with a max of 195. My Strava estimated power was 362. It was a feisty night at Rockleigh, with Gavi E seeking out a win from a break with Tony F just ahead of a charging pack.
So what are the SAD scores for each race? Well, if I knew what a SAD score consisted of, I’d tell you, but since I don;t know, here’s the run down. FBF was raced at a higher speed over a longer distance, but Rockleigh’s two and three quarters (turn two isn’t a whole 90 degree turn) tight corners means that speeds have to drop so racers can get through the corners without dying. FBF doesn’t really have any corners that require slowing down, so average speed is a bit misleading. My average HR for each race was identical, with a 3 beat advantage going to Rockleigh, but to be honest, I was sprinting at Rockleigh, whereas as FBF, I rolled in with the pack. There’s a 6 watt edge to FBF in Strava estimated power, which I assume means almost nothing, so deciding which race is harder is a very tough call.
Both fields were almost exactly the same size, with top racers represented in both races. I tried to use the USAC cycling ranking system to compare the winners, but the FBF winner didn’t get any points, and I can’t figure out how the hell that system works anyway. But all things considered, I will give the higher SAD score to FBF, because the race was longer and had me at my 175 ppm average for 5 minutes more. That seems to be the only differentiating factor between the two races—duration. Both races are great opportunities to bike punish yourself, but since the agony lasts slightly longer at FBF (even on nights without an extra lap), it is the winner of the weeknight battle of the races. Long live FBF.