The Mengoni Grand Prix is the biggest and oldest race in Central Park - the traditional end to the Open Racing season in Central Park. In addition to having a major role in planning and executing the race, Team Sixcycle-RK&O also brought a full squad out for the Cat 3 field. Check out a race report from Roger Parmelee, who finished second on the day, below - as well as lots of pictures from the racing.
2012 Mengoni Grand Prix Results
Available here: http://www.fastalracing.com/results/2012/MengoniGP12.pdf
Mengoni Grand Prix Race Report from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Roger Parmelee
That noise. Yup it's 4:15 am and that's my alarm going off. Anyone who races in New York City - where bike races need to be finished by the time most of the city is rolling out of bed - knows the feeling of the 4:15am (or earlier) alarm.
After several years of experience though, I have the 4:15am alarm down to a science. Bottles filled - check, tires pumped - check, wallet/cash/licence - check. Even my kit is laid out so I have to do is wake up, get out of bed, put kit on, brush my teeth and go.
I don't really eat in the morning for two reasons. One, my nerves are shit so I can never really can eat anything and two it gives me a few exrta minutes to sleep . That's how I get ready for all my races in the park and that's exactly how I did it this morning for the biggest and oldest race in Central Park: the CRCA Mengoni Grand Prix.
I met my teammate Michael Nelson downstairs in front of my building and we cross over the Brooklyn Bridge, heading up Broadway to Central Park. One of my favorite parts of racing is getting to registration in the morning and see all the familiar faces from throughout the CRCA and broader cycling community.
I met up with my teammates who were joining me in the Cat 3 field - Bryan, Tom, Johnny, Corey and Michael and we discussed race strategy. The clear expectation is that the race will end in a field sprint as is the case the majority of the time, but just a few weeks back at the CRCA Lou Maltese Memorial a small break stuck to the end and the same almost occurred earlier this summer at the CRCA Central Park Classic.
A short time later and the race is rolls off the start / finish line at Cats Paw. The initial pace was moderate - neither fast nor slow. There are a few early attacks but they're quickly covered by the pack. Throughout this early stage of the race I did my best to stay at the front to insure we didn't get caught out by any sort of major move. When a small group of guys went my teammates were all over it and I was able to rest my legs for the finish.
With one and a half laps to go a group of ten guys rolled off the front - but we made sure we had a rider in it - in this case Michael Nelson. Having him in the break set us up perfectly for the finish as we didn't have to do the work to reel it back it. Those teams and riders that missed the move were frustrated - yelling for a faster chase - but we weren't worried knowing we had a guy in the breakaway. By the time we went over Harlem Hill we could see the break dangling off the front, a good indication that they would probably get caught and the race would come down to a field sprint.
I have a love hate relationship with the field sprint. I love it because it's intense - very intense - and at times frightening. Every single second of the field sprint lead out to the finish there is so much jostling for position going on that it almost feels like system overload.
Which is also why I hate it - because it can also make the night before the race, particularly a major race like the CRCA Mengoni Grand Prix, quite restless. My mind will be racing and all I keep doing is thinking about all the different mini stories and scenarios that are going to happen in that last five minutes of the next day. This is where having a great team with a bunch of guys you love riding with really comes into play. It's a great feeling knowing that these guys have your back when the race is on.
As we hit Tavern the speed picked up, but the group was not strung out so there was a bit of bumping and shooting gaps to keep a good position in the peloton. I lost Corey's wheel for a second and had to fight to get back up to it. All the while my teammates did a good job staying at the front, sticking together and keeping the pace high. I got back on Corey's wheel and stayed locked on it.
At this point we caught the break but they're strung out across the entire road as the catch is made - making the catch very dangerous but Corey and I hugged our line and navigated through the remnants of the break at full gas. It was awesome.
Once we made it through to open road we were flying. The type of speed where your bike feels like it is on rails even when you're bumping elbows. At this point we are all out going into the Boathouse. At this stage there is a rider separating Corey and I but I'm okay with that as I know I can use another wheel to get up Cat's Paw. So that when Corey finally pulled the cord after a monster effort, the guy in front of me went and I stayed with him, following him halfway up Cat's Paw before launching my sprint.
I could feel people close to me, then no one, but then with maybe 100 feet to go I hear the rush of someone's wheels. I tried to double clutch and kick it again - giving it everything I can but he was closing and the finish line was still 50 feet away. As we finally run out of road we both throw our bikes and he gets me at the line. We pay each other on the back and both smile at how close it was - a great finish.
Overall it was a terrific race - everyone stayed upright and the team worked really well together for the result. That win would have been terrific, but I'm really happy with second place. The whole team rode fantastic, it didn't rain, I got coffee with my buddies and was home napping by 11:30am.
Even with the 4:15am alarm you can't beat racing in NYC.
Mengoni Grand Prix Video
Mengoni Grand Prix Race Pictures
Team Sixcycle-RK&O posted nearly 400 pictures from the Mengoni Grand Prix on our Facebook page - follow the link below to see all of these pictures and don't forget to like the team on Facebook to stay up to date on the latest racing news, pictures and videos.