Weather conditions for the 2012 CRCA Master's Throwdown were epic - and the no show rate for riders was easily 60% of registrants. That said Team Sixcycle-RK&O had four team members in attendance - one of them racing in the 35+ field and the other three helping run the race as part of marshaling obligations for the CRCA. Two of them - Michael Nelson and Corey Morenz - posted their perspective on the race.
2012 CRCA Masters Throwdown Results
Masters Throwdown Race Report from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Michael Nelson
Wait, what first of all, am I really 35 years old?!? Okay after coming to terms with growing older, and wiser, I decided to defy all notions of being older and wiser to go race in the pouring down rain! At 6 am... on a Saturday morning...
When I arrive at the start, I notice a smaller number of riders, as is usually the case when the weather turns bitter, but the usual suspects are in attendance, all of us here to compete for bragging rights amongst our less active but similarly middle aged friends...
We assemble at the start line, and our already small of twenty two has shrunk remarkably - there are only six of us brave (or stubborn) enough to show. With such a small field (does six riders count as a field?) we decided to race gentlemen-like for the first five laps than have a go on the sixth and final lap around Central Park.
At the start of the race the officials encouraged us to drop a lap to do just five instead of the planned six but one of the more eager participants wanted to get some training in for GMSR and insisted on sticking with six laps...smarter and wiser? I have a lot to learn. So six laps it is!
Off we go. Boy the conditions are memorable. Rooster spray in the mouth, cold and of course some wind. I make sure to close my mouth when we hit HS Alley. Don't want to ingest any of that horse manure...
One lap, two, and three. Are we almost finished???
The group sticks to the plan for the first four laps and then I feel things start to fall apart a bit. I feel the urge to tighten the screws. I don't want to take smarter and wiser sprinters to the finish, to only finish sixth...
But I too learn and don't go against our gentlemen agreement. Dial it back and sit in. Pull through, and sit in. Mouth closed. Stay upright.
With two laps to go, I can feel the finish approaching and I want to deaden the legs of some of my training partners...
We put the rider who wanted to get some training in on the front and keep him there for a bit. Train away!
As we come around the start/finish line for the fifth time, it is game on...and the games began. The race evolved into something similar to a track race. A lot of watching, marking and we spread across the road.
I try a couple break attempts but nothing sticks. We are all too fresh...
When we hit the boat house, "big will" takes a dig. I let a gap open figuring I can close it up cat's paw. But as we crest the top of Cats Paw my plan devolves as our finish is neutralized due to a crash up ahead that had an ambulance and no fewer than three NYPD vehicles blocking the road...we all do the mature, smart, and wise thing and pull the plug, rolling through the finish line. Six laps, good training. And actually made some great friends along the way...
In the end despite the miserable weather and the small turnout I am glad that I did the race. I learned from some fast riders, and earned a small badge of honor this morning. Never a bad day when one can race, stay safe and meet new people.
Marshaling Race Report from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Corey Morenz
What's worse than having to leave a fun evening with friends before 10pm because you have to go race bikes in the park at 5 the next morning? Having to go to the park at 5am and NOT race bikes.
Though perhaps NOT racing bikes isn't horrible. Especially when it is raining and you know that the race would mostly involve trying to stay out of the wind in the peloton while avoiding the wet rooster tails everyone's rear wheels are throwing and praying that despite the squealing of your brake pads they will indeed slow your carbon rims.
Somehow the edge is taken off those pre-dawn wake ups when you are getting up to marshal instead of pitting your quads (and occasionally wits) against the rest of NYC's fittest cyclists. As part of the CRCA, every member is required to volunteer at two races a year in order to be eligible to compete in the races held in Central Park. The situation is ideal for both the CRCA, which gets free volunteers, and racers, who get to do an excellent race series in Central Park at a far lower price point than comparable open races.
This morning I was showing up extra early to help my teammates get registration open on time at 5:15 am. I'm always happy to live on the upper east side on a morning like this for the few minutes of extra sleep - the USA cycling official at the race was up at 3 AM in order to drive into the city and make it on time. Volunteers for these races are truly just as dedicated as the riders. Somehow I was still running late as I jumped out of bed and scrambled to get some clothes on and get out the door. A quick look outside confirmed the forecast of the night before - rain. I threw on a rain coat over my kit and grabbed an umbrella as I headed to the park.
Today's race was an open event focused on master's racing. Anyone with a USAC license could race, no CRCA membership required. The fields were divided by age, with 35-40, 40-50, 50-60 and 60+ fields. I met Matthew Vandivort, my teammate and the Director of Open Racing for the CRCA, and another Team Sixcycle-RK&O rider, Daniel Cleiman, a few minutes after 5 and began to set up bike racks for the soon to be arriving racers. With that complete, we got some respite from the rain as we moved under a crowded tent to check in racers, hand them their race numbers and collect signatures on the required USAC waiver forms. As more marshals arrived we passed registration duties on to them and began to set up the finish area: video camera for results, cones to delineate the finish line and a tent / chairs to keep the officials dry. By now the race had started - on time at 6:15am thanks to the help and punctuality of all the volunteers - and our roles shifted again to be course marshals and photographers.
Even at this early hour, other New Yorkers are beginning to enter and use the park and our priority is to ensure their safety as well as that of the racers by keeping the park road clear as the fields come through. Lap by lap went by and the rain refused to abate. As the fields finish we capture the results on both video, still shots and also record the numbers of the top finishers. Then we just have to breakdown the finish area, lug more gear and stow everything away for the next CRCA race. By the time we were finished Matt, Dan and I had been among both the first to arrive in the park and the last to leave. Perhaps not the most enjoyable day's work, but a small price to pay to be part of the CRCA.
With the rain showing no signs of stopping, work is soon finished and I'm back on my bike returning to my apartment to grab the hours of sleep I missed and wait for the weather to improve before training.