CRCA A Race, August 30, 2009
I am just back from my vacation to the Cape that they call "May", and during my sojourn there, while taking a break from ruthlessly unsubscribing myself from e-mail lists; I was able to come to an epiphany while I was feigning interest in sitting in sand (which I like to call "bathing dirt") – I've set myself a new goal and that is: to become the most famous middle category/master bicycle racer/diarist in Northern New Jersey area (you'll notice I don't use the term "blogger" as blogging to me implies a certain literary directionlessness – such as posting pictures of partially eaten meals – but please don't think I am opposed to pictures of partially eaten meals either – I am an avid collector of jpegs of half sandwiches; it's just that I am attempting to write with a goal, which is, again, to become the most famous middle category/master bicycle racer/diarist in Northern New Jersey area – were you even listening to me before?). And I think this is a very attainable goal, unless the Twitter-addict known as Lance Armstrong (also a master's racer, I believe) moves to Ho-Ho-Kus – which may happen as the scuttlebutt is that he is very fond of boroughs with doubly hyphenated names, maybe he'll settle for Winston-Salem? Here's hoping.
Nevertheless, while trying to hide my fear and revulsion for those people known as "Philadelphians" (whose theology seems to involve worshiping a young female horse, or "Philly" [sic] during the spring and summer, and a bird of prey during the fall and winter months, pausing only for cured meats and bouts of profanity), I was hit by my new aspiration and it seems to have given my cycling life a new purpose. In the past weeks, I was dangerously close to "burning out" (a term from the world of cycle-coaching – just mentioning those words cost me $24.95); I was unable to maintain my interest in the very simple act of dressing myself in tight clothing and pedaling a bicycle in public. I was at a moment of crisis. But now with my renewed sense of purpose I find within myself a vigor usually reserved for my fits of non-sobriety. I will become the most famous middle category/master bicycle racer/diarist in Northern New Jersey area, and in doing so I will be able to release my cycling life story in a series of seriographs, be sure to keep an eye out for the ninth in the series – it contains nudity.
But now we move on to the small matter of racing, more specifically, racing which involves me. I haven't written reports for the last two races I've been in – reference the previous paragraph for the allusion to "burn out" (another $24.95 down!) – I shall take care of those race reports now. I was in the masters race at Prospect Park some weeks ago, teammate Frank was trying to supplant Juan Pimental as the overall leader, but alas, there were too many Global Locates and Wonder Wheel for Frank and I to handle, a break separated themselves and Frank finished on place behind Juan in the field sprint. Shortly after that I found myself at FBF in a race where Scot Willingham and another fellow countered a counter of a sprint and stayed away until they were told to stop racing as they had won. I performed a lead out and teammate Frank placed in the points. And that bring us up to date.
Well, not entirely, I was also in a race today, the CRCA A race in Central Park to be specific. I was not optimistic about my chances for glory as I have been vacationing, lounging in bathing dirt and spending my nights bingeing on fried foods and pre-season football (which afforded me the chance to try the local Philadelphian customs of cured meats and profanity while doing so, and I must say, it is a delightful combination!). We were slated to do 7 laps, and we did! During those laps many things happened, there were many attacks and counter attacks, attacks that contained Evie Stevens, and attacks that didn't. The race felt very sprinty to me, and as I sweated the fried foods and profanity out of my body, I began to feel pretty frisky – frisky enough to even try to knock Kyle Peppo over as we crested Cat's Paw Hill, but sadly I was unsuccessful. But mark my words, I will get you next time Peppo!
As we came to the bell lap, in a fit of vanity I hope to one day have committed to seriograph, I decided to throw my hat into the sprint ring. But before the race could end we had to pass through the area patrolled by the Jack Russell Terrier of the damnded (who I think was being maliciously controlled through telepathy by Kyle Peppo – did you know he can control the beasts of the Earth with his thoughts? Well, he can, but only those that weigh under 25 pounds. Don't think I'm not on to you, Peppo!) The Jack Russell was tenacious, running for many yards beside the field at his top speed which, apparently is the same as that of a pack of cyclists, he then dove into the roadway towards the race, but must've been knocked from his Peppo trance by the sound of shrieking cyclists – which, of course, the only way to defeat Peppo's beast telepathy. The danger of the mind beast subsided, and we flung ourselves to the finish. I asked my teammate Pascal for a lead out, as it always looks good in a seriograph if you have a teammate exulting in your reflected glory, and he agreed to help. As we came through the wet dung on the road near the carousel, I appreciated his efforts to put me near the front, and I didn't even complain that our route was very "fecal", as I was trying to position myself near the front. As we hit the boathouse, I was sitting on the Empire train to glory, but then I fell slowly backwards, like a comptroller falling into the arms of his co-workers at a trust seminar. I ended up tenth. My seriographer was bitterly disappointed.
Side notes from the day
While at the front on the descent near the ice rink, Kark (with a "K") Rahn has his rear tire slide out from beneath him (would that cause a "krash"?), but he used his finely honed sense of balance and extra toes to stay upright. I suspect he was using his tricked out lard tires that he ordered from Nashbar Estonia, but we all know, not matter how sweet those tires roll, that lard and rain do not mix. Unless, of course, you're actually in Estonia, in which case rain and lard do mix, in fact they are the basis for the entirety of Estonian cuisine.
The head song for the day was "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks
FBF 3/4ths race, August 11, 2009
Last night was a hot night night at FBF, with a slight headwind between turns one and two, which usually portends a sprint finish, as the wind doesn't make the race hard enough for things to break up. But that doesn't mean you don't try, right? Otherwise the race is just a 10 lap parade to a 200 sprint for glory for those with fast twitch muscles. And since I am not one that twitches fast, my best chance for any glory would be by splitting myself from the herd – preferably with some company to aid me in my quest, as I enjoy having witnesses to my glories.
The race rolled out pretty at a moderate pace, with a few pops off the front, but nothing that formed up into anything threatening. From the looks of things in the race, it felt like Wonder Wheels was interested in having the race finish in a field sprint, as they were covering a lot of moves, but not really driving anything. BVF was also covering moves, so the sprint writing was starting to get carved onto the stone tablets. But being a bit of a heretic, I took a shot with 3 laps or so to go. I was able to get about a half straight's worth of distance on the pack, and that bit of madness lasted about a half lap (after being joined by Sammy from United – poor bastard).
After my brief bid for personal glory, it was time to resort to plan B, which took the form of teammate Frank, our sprinter. The last two laps of the race for me would be firstly, recovering enough so I wasn't breathing like a goldfish on a shag carpet, and secondly, covering any splits and euthanizing the hopes of any late breakaway attempts. I did not do a great job of my second goal, as a late move by Jon Orcutt provoked a split off the front as we rolled into the last turn of the race. There wasn't a real chase at the front of the race, and I was sitting at about 4th wheel to keep an eye on what developed ahead. And that's the way the race would've ended if it hadn't been for Etsu Taniguchi of Teeny (who I may or may not have sworn at – in a friendly/encouraging way mind you – honest) adding an injection of speed right at the last turn. That swatted the hornets, and the split at the front got swept up. I was holding a position near the front and got passed by the sprinters on the left, I got up to try and catch a draft, but they had the momentum. Alessandro Matteucci of BVF won for the second week in a row, Frank took second. I ended up 6th – first sister kissing position.
Schmalz Race Report
Plan B got us second place, so not a bad night, I have to drop it down more as I got 6th – there's nothing worse than one out of the money. Let's call that a four.
The night's head song was the sauntering "Love is Nothing" by Liz Phair.
FBF 3/4ths race and CRCA Master's Championship
I will admit it, I've been very lazy lately when it comes to writing my race reports. Usually when I write about a race, I try to bring some sort of insight or try to take a unique angle on what I see during a race – routinely this involves a long extended metaphor that harkens to some sort of bodily function. I do this because I like a challenge metaphorically, and I have the maturity level of a middle schooler. But the last few weeks have seen me come up empty both metaphorically and body functionally – I'm just not feeling it lately. This isn't a calamity or a cause for any alarm, it's just a mild case of literary listlessness. Oh, and I'm starting to come to that point in the year when I hate my bike.
It happens every year around this time, and every year it seems to come as a surprise. In August, after riding all year, I get burned out from riding. I try my best to remedy the situation – I buy new bike trinkets to try and coax some enthusiasm for riding from my weary loins. I just purchased a new saddle bag – as my last one was stolen, thanks crime – but it's not really lighting a fire that will carry me through the toil required to maintain any level of mightiness; it sadly contains no courage, only a few tire levers and a patch kit full of disdain.
So that is the state I currently find myself in. I still enjoy racing my bike. I just don't enjoy training, driving to races, waking up early, bicycle maintenance, Lycra, Andy Shen, changing tubulars or intervals. It's a conundrum. I am one week away from my annual summer vacation, which entails sitting in sand, parenting and brief periods of sobriety – not all simultaneously, mind you. This serves annually to refresh my enthusiasm for all things cycling, and as I don't take my bike along, it also serves to make me slower as it makes me more eager to ride.
Out of a misplaced, myopic sense of duty, I will include the briefest summary of the last two races. At FBF Tony Maisto, Alessandro Matteucci and Ben Woodbury got away early in the race, I saw the break form and decided (as if I could've jumped up to them by myself) that they were probably looking to soak up some sprint points, but they gutted out a windy night and stayed away, with Alessandro taking a well deserved win. At the CRCA race, there were about 90 attacks early (87 of them from Ken Harris), with a group of all the favorites getting away together. I was at the front when the group went, and as I was tuckered out from covering attack number 89; I watched the break roll away while doing nothing about it. Teammate Pascal tried to bridge, but to no avail. We tried to chase, the break stayed and David Taylor won the race.
The head song from Tuesday night was "Walk Like an Egyptian" by the Bangles – is it any wonder why I'm tired of bikes?
Saturday's head song was "No One Knows" by the Queens of the Stone Age, a more tolerable song, so naturaly youtube won't allow it to be placed on anyone's web page.
CRCA A Championship Race, August 2, 2009
Going into Sunday morning's CRCA championship race; I was realistic about my chances at victory – that is to say I felt I had little chance whatsoever. I would be competing against guys much younger (Lisban Quintero, much of the Foundation team, the Grim Reaper) and much more talented (Lisban, John Loehner, many species of sloths) than myself; so I decided before the race that I would try to race like smart person and then if my body happened to fail me in my pursuit of "racing a smart race"; I would be at peace with that failure. Adding to the intrigue of the day's race was a new location for the finish line, somewhere near 97 1/2 street approximately. To a curmudgeon like myself, change is something to be feared and chased with torches through a darkened town, so the change of finish line served to add to my sense of impending failure.
And that's how my race started, with a sense of imminent failure and a slow countdown to the collapse of my bodily functions. At the first climb of Harlem Hill, Tony Slokar of Adler jumped and was joined by a Rapha fellow, shortly afterwards Mike Maragrite of Empire jumped also, and I, trying to be smart followed him with Alejandro of Foundation along also. We all formed up, with Alejandro sitting on, obviously just covering the breaks for teammates behind. We lasted for about a half lap, before an additional duo of Empire riders made their way up to us, and the ball then went into Empire's court, they looked around, saw who was in their midst, and wisely decided to punt. We all were reabsorbed by the race, and I had made one smart move for the morning. The next portion of the race was a series of attacks and counter moves that ended up allowing a group of about ten riders to get a gap of about a minute or so.
That break was away for about a lap or three when we headed to the second last climb of Harlem Hill. I was again trying to race my smart race, as we were slowly getting closer to the break; it looked like someone might make a move to jump across, so I moved toward the front as we went up the hill. Then things went poorly. As we reached the midpoint of the hill, there was the unmistakeable sound and panicked movements that accompany a crash in the field. In front of me, the domino effect of riders desperately trying to find a way around the fracas was pushing the race towards the gutter on the right. My only chance at staying upright would be if the line of falling riders stopped short of the gutter and allowed me enough room to scoot by between sprawled bikes and bodies and the gutter. As I slowly rode the wave of collapsing bodies towards the gutter, I realized that I had run out of road, and I was going too slowly to maintain enough momentum to hop the curb. Bike met curb and my body hit the relatively soft dirt and grass beyond the curb, resulting in some minor scrapes and scratches on my right leg and knee – all in all not a bad way to crash.
Now since I was not witness to the origins of this mishap, I cannot accurately describe the actions of any racers or assign blame or credit for the event. But here's what I do know, the proceeding involved a certain racer who's been involved in incidents before. And by saying "been involved" I mean, everyone who's ever been in more than two races with him can tell you a story about getting abruptly cut off for 42nd place or getting half wheeled as he aggressively pulls out of a rotation, or getting bumped about as he tries to wedge himself into your armpit as the race approaches an important milestone, such as the 500m to go point before the midpoint of the first quarter of the race. I have done like most racers have, I've stayed quiet, occasionally calling out exceptionally egregious behavior, but for the most part, whenever I see this racer I move away from him in the same manner I would move away from a gassy hobo on the subway. Because the likelihood of a maneuver of dubious aggression is as inevitable as a follow up to Scarlett Johansson's "Anywhere I Lay My Head" album, meaning the event will happen –and it will bring disaster.
But on Sunday morning, I was more concerned with racing a smart race than I was with sliding away from this partcular gassy hobo, that's why I was near the front on the hill – normally a time and place that doesn't see many crashes. But this fellow works in mayhem like Damien Hirst works in formaldehyde. He's a master. I've managed to survive a few seasons without a crash. I made it through a club race where a fellow's bike disintegrated right next to me. I endured the Grant's Tomb crash that was 5 seconds after the starter's whistle. I finished Harlem with no barrier marks on my body. But when the gassy hobo wants to dunk you into a tank of formaldehyde, you have no choice but to jump in and show the world your wounds.
Side notes from the day
After crashing and staying at the finish to watch the race end, I legally walked through the park (not wanting to put any extra "post-mortem" miles on my bike) to the registration area only to find that my bag had gone missing. A quick look around and a round of inquiries lead to the conclusion that someone either: picked up my bag by accident (a very optimistic view of the situation), or decided to make off with my bag and my iphone. Normally I don't leave my iphone in my bag, but I was using it as an overqualified timepiece so I could tell when the race would be starting. And now it is gone. My bag's disappearance looks to be a run of the mill theft (at least one other bag went missing) and that's sad as it sullies the sanctity of the bag pile. It sounds a little dull to just be the victim of a random crime, so maybe I will jazz this story up and say that the criminal in question is a master villain intent on getting to my contacts list so they find out what Andy Shen's hat size is so they can create a mind control device and corner the "dog loves cat" photo world. There, that's much better.
The head song of the day was "Help Me Mary" by Liz Phair, as I felt I would need all the help I could get.