Into the Muck
It was one of those morning - 46 degrees (optimistically) with a break in the rain but the roads still drenched, guaranteeing a constant spray from the rider in front of you and a mouth full of road grit. True hardman conditions, into which Ryan McGarrity and I ventured out for the 7 lap points race as part of the CRCA Club Series. With a small field, things started with a good pace and Ryan was a constant presence on the front, though for the first lap nothing was able to get away, thankfully allowing me to shelter in the peloton and try to jump start my legs.
On lap two the field stalled just as three riders snuck off the front before Engineers Gate - with Zach Koop from Blue Ribbon, Charles Altcheck from Foundation and Dave Taylor it was a move with the right mix of teams and plenty of horsepower so I bridged across. We quickly put time into the field, though never enough that we were completely out of sight and by the time the start finish line rolled around for the first sprint the field was gaining time.
With Zach as the clear sprinter in the group, Charles made a strong move and jumped early around 69th street, quickly sneaking away while the three of us remaining in the break looked at each other. When the sprint came Zach led it out and held strong through the finish while I snuck in third, shortly ahead of the field as the race regrouped.
Lap 3 included a few attacks but again nothing was able to get away and in a messy sprint I think I snuck in another third place finish, keeping me in contention. Of course, shortly thereafter my luck changed and I flatted on the descent from Harlem Hill (about the same location that I flatted the previous CRCA race). A quick tube change and I was back on the road, but with the field long gone.
Coming through the start/finish I was reminded that if I didn't finish I lost my points. Despite the futility in the effort (third place in the first two sprints doesn't count for much) I was already drenched through and through and so I rode on for the next four laps, eventually finishing to collect whatever my final placing was - though I didn't stick around long enough to check the finish order.
Miserable conditions but any day on the bike is a good one.
A big thank you to the race staff and marshals who braved the conditions today so those of us crazy enough to race our bikes could do so.