With temperatures finally approaching reasonable levels following frigid races at the CRCA season opener and the Grant's Tomb Criterium the squad has been itching to get back into action. As it happens the Saturday race calendar had plenty on offer between the CRCA Club Series, Trooper Brinkerhoff north of the city, and Cherry Blossom in New Jersey.
The team split up between these various races, but we still had a crew of five or six racers starting the morning at the third CRCA race in Central Park. This meant partaking in the usual affair: standing around in the dark in registration lines, trying to figure out which queue is associated with which field, then standing around some more at the Rambles parking lot, trying to stay warm (#protip: the bathrooms are heated and make a nice pre-race shelter) while waiting for the sun to rise and fields to roll off the start line.
As for the actual racing, it was a rare day of racing - both a Met finish (one of the least used in Central Park) and a Points Race, which we have previously summarized as Sprinting, Sprinting Some More and then Sprinting Again. Despite the variety of race options on the calendar the A field was well sized, with all of the usual teams represented, insuring it would be a challenging day of racing, particularly given our squad was a bit short handed.
My Garmin tells me the first lap was the toughest at 403 watts normalized power, though to be honest I don't particularly remember why it was so challenging - at 13:55 it was a fast but not an unreasonably quick opening lap. As for the first sprint, lots of teams were in the mix vying for those first points and making for a crowded rush to the line. With points only going three riders deep I was too far back to be in contention and with a number of teams putting together good lead-out trains I quickly made the decision to look for a break rather than try to sprint as a lone wolf.
Time would prove this strategy fruitless as the pack seemed content to focus on field sprints. In fact, the one dangerous break to form did so while I was on the back of the pack removing my vest - perfect timing. I bridged across on the flat before 72nd Street but shortly thereafter the field came back together and would stay that way more or less through the conclusion of the race. There were some feisty moments here and there including when the field nearly split while passing an ambulance near the start/finish line, all par for the course racing in Central Park.
In the end we walked away with zero points on the scoreboard (confirming once again that points races are more often than not an exercise in futility), but with everyone on the squad, and I think the field, staying upright and some good training efforts during the race it was a pretty terrific morning in Central Park. All that was left to do was to retire back to the Rambles parking lot to share race stories and shoot the shit.
During this post-race session we learned our friends on CityMD Women's Racing had pulled off a win in the women's field and proceeded to watch them take about 45 selfies until I stepped in to offer a proper photo to celebrate the result.
Once story time was complete we hopped back on the bike in pursuit of breakfast - spinning (ok, maybe the pace was a bit more aggressive than a casual spin - we were hungry) across the GWB under blue skies for coffee and bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches. And perhaps a sweet or two.
When it was all said and done we had one race and a total of 80ish miles in our legs, all before noon. Not a bad way to spend the morning. As always a big thank to you CRCA and in particular the all volunteer CRCA Board for making mornings like this possible.
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/