After a family vacation to the Iowa Mothership, I am back to race bikes over the familiar circuits of the New York area. Normally my trips back to the land of beer, sausage and cheese-covered vegetables results in a drop in bike racing form so precipitous that I have to relearn the pedaling process by watching Pee Wee’s Big Adventure; but I managed to smuggle a bicycle along on this trip, so my drop in form could be remedied by a few minutes of watching Kevin Costner pedal squares in American Flyers. (As an aside, American Flyers is an abomination of a movie, end of story.)
Due to this non-calamitous drop in form, I was slightly hopeful that I would not be terrible at bikes. I decided to test this theory by racing at FBF because it’s an affordable race and the consequences of getting shelled are minor because you can just let a little air out of your tire and claim that you would’ve won had it not been for an ill-timed flat. (I may or may not have employed that strategy in the past.) The start/finish line for this week’s race had been moved to a new location due to bird boinking in the weeds near the usual start/finish line. The new line was a quarter lap away in the straight between the old tuns one and two. This new line wasn’t a great departure from the old line in a tactical sense, the wind was essentially the same, it would just take longer to finish.
The wind was blowing in a classic FBF direction, so that meant there was a good chance at a break getting away if pressure was applied at the proper places on the course. Unfortunately, this probably meant applying the pressure myself, which would require exertion on my part—but that’s OK because I don’t like to pay $25 to stare at keyster all night. We pushed off and the race was on.
It quickly became evident that there were about five frisky riders willing to put it out there, others were less willing or tired or waiting to sprint for 26th place or whatever it is that people who just sit in all night do; so we five frisky fellows jumped about off the front of the race for what seemed like 5 millions times. All of these attempts were not successful, as every chase and catch resulted in a big clot of satisfied slowness. (“Yay, we caught them! Let’s do nothing whatsoever!”). This pattern repeated itself for about 8 laps of the ten laps of the race. Sometime after I had been dragged back panting and sweating for the God knows how many-eth time, Cesar the series leader (not in yellow, FYI you guys) got away with a teammate. I expected the same sort of reaction that a move my teammate Aaron and I had seen when we broke away together—I imagine it was like a scene from a submarine movie where there’s a horn that makes an “ooo-ga, ooo-ga” sound and all hands get on deck (I could be wrong about this, those horns are heavy and would be difficult to fit in a jersey pocket). But there was no ooo-ga ooo-ga reaction from the field, teammate Aaron tried to jump across to no avail, but there wasn’t much else going on. There was group of three up front, two Triangle Cyclists rider and a guy in a Mellow Johnnies (evidently still a thing) jersey, and a few of us set about trying to bring them back.
You how that sort of stuff goes, so I won’t bore you with the details, but I will tell you there was a lot of heavy breathing and perspiring. We go the duo (one rider dropped back) close enough at the end to really screw ourselves over in the sprint, and between the new turns three and four, a CRCA junior jumped and was able to hold his speed and win the race in a perfectly timed move. Back behind the rest of us bumbled our way to the line for the most minor of placings.