I’ve been racing bikes long enough to know that I was in deep trouble…..
There was a strong rider up the road, two riders much stronger than me in our chase group and no warm bosom of the field to fall back to if I got dropped.
And it all started off so nice….
In this city of eight million people (with fifteen million living inside a fifty-mile radius) six, yes six, of us made the shape this morning at Engineer’s Gate at 7:30 AM. Mike Green, CRCA club president and bane of my existence as he has yet to wield his scepter of power to have Spring Bear moved away from Mother’s Day (ed. note – I was just informed that Mike has swung a different date for Spring Bear. Thanks, Mike! Now I have one less excuse to hide behind), took the initiative and reinvigorated what had been a longtime club tradition.
The six riders were:
Todd BRILLIANT! – Setanta
George Suter – Die Hard-Think Racing
Tim from TEANY
Jim Mernin – Kingpin Racing – HJD
Unattached Rider – Didn’t catch his name and it’s still better than riding with an Unhinged Rider.
After two appropriately slow slushy laps of Central Park we headed north towards Bear Mountain. It was about 36 degrees, dry and cloudy. I had never met George before and listened as he chatted about his time racing in Belgium, uh-oh. I know that Todd is strong and Teany Tim looked rather capable as he regularly rode ahead of the field. The Unattached Rider was in the back for a good chunk of the ride and I knew that Jim was coming off a cx season that kept him off the road bike for quite a while.
Our pace was leisurely as we agreed that this was a "gentleman’s ride" and that we’d race later on, plus we didn’t want to buy it on a metal plate or a sharp turn. We’d all hate to be the guys to start off a hospital’s 2010 patient file. The ride up 9W was chilly and the roads were wet, but there was nothing falling from the sky. That’s always a good thing. It was nice to speak with the other riders and hear their tales of riding. I always like to remember the communal nature of our sport. We’re a small, small subculture and it’s good to interact with like minds.
Two riders dropped at the turn around. Unattached rider had a mechanical and Jim wisely realized that struggling through the last forty miles would put him out of commission for a few days. Plus the beckoning warm car and the company of the car’s driver was too much for him to resist.
That leaves four….
While three of us were taking nature breaks at the turnaround, Todd said that he was going to get a headstart and that we’d easily catch him on the first hill.
We didn’t see him at the first hill
We didn’t see him in Stony Point
We didn’t see him in Congers
We didn’t see him at Rockland Lake
(I told you that he was capable)
It appeared that someone hit the gas.
Here’s where I realized I was in deep trouble. Teany Tim and George were itching to catch Todd and began to ramp up the speed. I was ok on the flats but the hills were trouble. I was able to catch back on during the descents but I knew that the pleasure of my company would soon end for them. The hill at Rockland Lake was the death of me and I got dropped.
The nice thing, if there is a bright side, about getting dropped is that while you lose the pleasures of the other riders’ company and the draft I was able to sit up and enjoy the rest of the ride. I was pretty beat at this point and realized that aside from the MS100 in October I hadn’t done much riding in order to train for and run two marathons in November.
I’m not going to bore anyone by waxing poetic about Nyack and 9W, but suffice to say that routes that you know well tend to pass quickly and before I knew it I was pulling up to Engineer’s Gate. Mike Green and George, kind enough to wait for me, offered congratulations through my open weeping (well, not really). I learned that George and Tim caught Todd and came in about 15 minutes before him.
It was a great day all around and a fun way to kick off the New Year. Thank you to CRCA for bringing back this classic event.