Racing while sick is always a bad idea. I have been around for long enough to have learned this lesson many times over. But apparently I needed a reminder because despite feeling under the weather I was on the start line in Central Park at 5:30AM this past weekend for the Lou Maltese Memorial.
Uncertain on just quite how my legs were going to respond my goal was to do as little work as possible and hold all of my matches in reserve for a leadout if it came down to a field sprint. This meant it was a great relief when an early break escaped up the road and we had a presence in the move. As that group faded into the distance I quickly shifted into prime tailgunning position to relax for as long as possible.
Unfortunately after what I am sure were three very painful laps we were dropped from the break, which in turn meant we had to join in the effort to chase down a group that was the better part of a minute up the road. Scudney, Tom and myself quickly found ourselves on the front, keeping the pace high in pursuit of the leaders. I'm not sure how fast we were going, but in my condition every pull on the front felt quite unpleasant to say the least.
After a lap and a half of chasing we pulled the break back and I retreated to mid-pack to recover while the fun started on the front of the race. Thankfully Tom and Scudney were attentive and as a break of six or seven snuck away Tom was in the group. Once they were out of sight I returned to my favored tailgunning position and hoped that would be the last we would see of that group. Which is how the race finished - the break stuck with Gavi sneaking away solo in the closing miles and Tom scoring an impressive fourth place from the remainder of the break. In the pack one of the teams was throwing headbutts and shoulders around 5k out from the sprint for eighth place so I took the finish fairly relaxed (not that my legs would have cooperated with anything more optimistic) and rolled across the line mid-pack.
As for the reminder that racing while sick is a bad idea - it came post race when I spent the better part of the next 48 hours in bed or on the couch sleeping off my cold. But hey, at least the Lou Maltese Memorial turned out better than the Dave Jordan Central Park Classic.
Matthew Vandivort is a New York City based cyclist and sometimes photographer who was also a founding member of To Be Determined. You can follow him online at @photorhetoric or http://photo-rhetoric.com/