With the biggest bicycle race in New York City done and in the books, To Be Determined's own Ted Teyber recaps his experience as both a racer and the race director, with images by Daghan Perker - @dperker - (unless otherwise noted).
The road season is on! The Grant's Tomb Criterium holds a special place for the NYC cycling community with a tremendous amount of support, dependencies and ultimately trust on an uncountable number of minute yet critical details.
A huge thanks to Rod Millot, for spending the night on the course and pulling in barricades as cars pulled out and directing tow trucks to focus on the tight parts of the course; Liz Marcello - race director and all around bad ass; and the usual crew of CRCA volunteers and alumnus who put an incredible amount of time into pulling this off every year.
A great deal of thought by CRCA alumnus has gone into the Grant's Tomb Crit schedule, and the result is that just about every racer has the opportunity to race 2 or 3 times, including women's fields. From 8AM to 5:40PM there are races on the course non-stop: race clinic, Juniors race ... and ending with the Men's P/1/2/3 pinnacle race finishing in twilight.
Despite 5" of snow Friday morning and speculations of calling off the race, the day went off in spades. A near miss was when a fire truck pulled onto the course leaving an apartment fire a block south of the course -- disregarding cries that a field was barreling down on them and to stay put (the field neutralized themselves and seemed unshaken). But the only crash of the day was To Be Determined's Patrick Torpey in the M2/3 race who was pushed to the outside on the last turn of the course, which had new curbage making it even tighter than years previous. See Grant's Tomb Crit Insider's Guide.
But the day was remarkably free of crashes compared to years past, with the first and last corner tighter than ever due to NYC DOT street improvements initiated by the Bloomberg administration, demonstrating that tighter corners can actually make a race safer and not sketchier.
Beyond organizing, structuring, and overseeing the race, To Be Determined also raced in a number of fields, and despite the frigid temperatures maintained great spirits. Its early racing season, and the gang was back together. Team partner Rover Cycle Co provided, caffeine, mechanical service, and shelter from the cold in their mobile bike shop, which made the cold tolerable. Salting the course the night before, sweeping the course the morning of, and moving NYPD barricades into place on race-day do not beat openers on the trainer and showing up 30 minutes before your race to pin a number. Both Matt Vandivort (8th M2/3) and myself (3rd M4) secured respectable results despite some aches and pains from the foregoing. But hanging out in a heated van surrounded by state the art bike bits and tools, watching the best amateur racing on the East Coast with your friends and teammates makes it more than worth it.
In my and Chris Burati's race, we knew that Rich Spencer, friend and team Kind Human racer, was going to try to repeat his 2016 Grant's Tomb victory by riding away from the field. Rich and I had raced together the week before in N.J. and worked together to shake some fields up. I listened to the advice given to me by Grant's Tomb veteran, Roger, and opted to not initiate any attacks myself, but still kept my eyes on the ones that could stick.
So when we saw Rich moving to the front 7 minutes into the race on the turn to make a move out of, I followed suit.
We accelerated away from the field with two riders hanging on: an unknown rider and CRCA/RBNY racer Luiz Fernando lanfredi. A painful pace in what a mounted to a 30+ minute breakaway that stayed away left me unable to sprint whatsoever for fear of falling over, but happy to be on the podium with an envelope of coffee money.
Richard Scudney (TBD M1) had a theatric performance in the Masters field in the morning and just missed the win to take the 2nd step on the podium. He returned later for the last race of the day, the P/1/2/3, lining up with Matt Vandivort, but the quick pace proved too long for the 1.15-hour race, as it was both of their second race of the day. Glenn Ferreira took the win, with Alan Rego showing good form in third.
It may be early season, and it looks like winter 2017 is far from over with heavy storms and snow in the immediate forecast as of this writing, but it was a great season opener for the team who is looking forward to building on Saturday's successes throughout the year with the help from our sponsors:
Ted Teyber is a New York City based cyclist and land use attorney who joined To Be Determined for the 2016 cyclo-cross season.