Harlem Skyscraper Criterium
It was a mixed bag for To Be Determined at the Harlem Crit. The day started out on a strong note when Michael Nelson finished second in the Men's Cat 4 race. However in the Men's Cat 2/3 race the team lost JB to a nasty crash midway through the race. Then with less than 10 laps to go the race was neutralized due to a crash in corner one, leading to a 15 minute intermission in the action and ultimately a 3 lap scratch race to finish things off.
Despite the unsatisfying finish for the 2/3 race the weather was beautiful and the Harlem Crit as a whole was thoroughly enjoyable. We posted 800+ pictures from the action on our Facebook page, but check out the race reports, video and a selection of our favorite pics below.
Harlem Crit Links
Harlem Crit Race Race Report from Tom Mikolinski
The Harlem Skyscraper Classic is one of those races I have mixed feelings about. It’s a phenomenal event with a pro race atmosphere, however it is very “crashy”. Everyone comes out and wants to show justification for spending countless dollars and hours fixated on biking. This justification usually ends up materializing in the form of crashing, thus the need to spend more money and hours replacing broken bikes and bones. Having been off the bike for the better part of 2 weeks, enjoying a bit of the civilian lifestyle, I knew I wasn’t on my best form and so was there to help out Matt and Roger in the event the race came down to a sprint finish.
It was a packed field for the start…118 Cat 2s and 3s all jammed together ready to ride in squares for 40 mins. Sixcycle-RK&O had Matt, Roger, JB, Bryan and me at the start line. The pace was fast from the start, although certainly not unbearable, especially considering the time off the bike. We were doing 1:30 laps on the 0.75 mile course, so a decent pace. On the first lap after turn #2 I see Matt Cutler from Rapha go down and his Zipp rear wheel in front of me at eye level, clearly not a good omen but confirmation of my “crashy” pre-race assessment. Folks looked to settle in a bit, but then on lap 10ish another crash occurs coming out of turn #4. I see that it is JB and hope he is still in one piece. I was sitting mid pack for pretty much the whole race, so I didn’t see much up front but I heard there was a couple guys with a few second gap. This all came back together and with 10 to go it seemed like everyone would be content with a sprint finish. I looked around trying to find everyone…Matt had been going strong at the front the whole race and I believe Rog and Bryan were right around me. I started moving up the field each lap in order to try and get our guys in a good position near the end.
With about 6 to go, marshals are all across the start/finish line neutralizing us on account of a crash at turn #1. The smell of burning carbon was so prominent I could almost taste it. We were told that there would be 2 neutralized laps and to continued to roll through. Turns out Misha from Hudson Furniture was down on the ground. Things weren’t looking too good for him so they ended up stopping the race to attend to him. Unfortunately only half the field rolled through on the neutral lap and as we made it back to the start, those that rolled through at the front were now at the back. Race organizers decided we’d finish the race with 3 laps, after sitting there for 15 minutes. Several guys pulled out knowing nothing good was going to come of this especially if you were now at the back in a 3 lap scratch race. Rog, Bryan, and I stayed in and just rolled around the last 3 laps, and of course, just for good measure, there were 2 more crashes on the last lap.
Overall it was a beautiful day and great riding (unless you were one of the unfortunate ones that went down). It’s the type of race where everyone that rolls through rubber side down with bike and kit intact is a winner. Finishing = Winning.
Harlem Crit Race Race Report from Michael Nelson
Big race. Big crowds. The combination equates to big pressure.
The Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic is a criterium held on the streets of Harlem, circling Marcus Garvey Park. A beautiful neighborhood with wonderful examples of Harlem's brownstone architecture and an enthusiastic cycling-saavy local community. After riding through most of Manhattan to the race with Michael Anderson (Siggi's), I do my best to find some road to warm up and collect my thoughts. Boy there is a lot going on - BMX half pipe, waffles & dinges, barriers, and a MC...I queue up to start, but certainly not as aggressively as many of the other racers. I end up near the back of the start grid... And then we have to wait five minutes while the course staff ready... another bummer.
We start, and like the Watermelon Crit a couple weeks prior, I spend my first few laps working my way up. Also, like last race, I started to feel out the corners. Wide approach vs. the more aggressive inside line? Where are the pot holes and uneven asphalt. The race is mostly fast, but there are moments when the pack looses all momentum and riders get twitchy. And then mid-way through the race, there are some scary crashes in turn two and three, and nearly turn four...I feel like the corners are dangerous, not because of NYC terrain, but because the corners were decreasing radius in nature. If a rider takes it wide, the rider is bound to get pinched, and worse taken out by an aggressive rider taking a tighter line. Got to stay inside!
I try for a prime, but loose out to a late sprinter... so I settle in for the eventual sprint. I remain patient as riders try to take flyers, alone, meanwhile there more crashes in corner three...since I'm racing solo I let the teams handle chasing duty as I manage my personal space. Leading into the last three laps, I am sitting in the top 10 wheels. Then on the last lap, Michael Anderson (last time I saw Michael was at the start!) takes a well-timed flyer. I dont go. Why? The field also hesitates and we are not able to reel him in, what a finishing move! I ride a wheel into the fourth corner and sprint as hard as I can for the line holding off Stefan of Siggi's for second place.