Race, Recover, Race Again

After a few missed opportunities, I finally secured my Cat 3 upgrade; just over a year after upgrading to Cat 4. With last weekend's local races canceled due to weather, I was excited to test my post-upgrade mettle in NYC's Lucarelli & Castaldi CRCA A-field on Saturday and then again the next day in Prospect Park as part of (the similarly named) Lucarelli & Castaldi Series. 

Weekends where I rode doubleheader weekend races were one of my favorite parts of NYC racing as a Cat 4 and I was hopeful that it would be the same as a Cat 3 racing with more challenging P/1/2/3 fields in both Central and Prospect Park.

Saturday: central park

crca club series #3

As further detailed in this weekend's Points Racing In Central Park by my teammate Matthew Vandivort, Saturday's CRCA club race A-field was fast. In fact in my opinion crazy fast given early season fitness and cold conditions. The team points structure and the lack of any successful breaks meant every lap was full gas.

I was perhaps overly optimistic for my first P/1/2/3 field and found myself in the red at the wrong time. I went to the front up Harlem Hill seeing myself surrounded by some strong climbers. But I could not hang with the acceleration over the top of the hill and went front to back faster than you can spell onomatopoeia.  

I tail gunned for a while but I was still in the red as the pack accelerated into the next sprint for points. With that acceleration I couldn't hang on such that my race was over short of 9 miles in...  

As my first race in a P/1/2/3 field I felt like a basketball player who walks into a professional soccer game, expecting to break a defenders ankles with a head-fake, but gets his cookies stolen instead.

Richard Scudney doing work for the squad on the front of a very fast A field in Central Park

Richard Scudney doing work for the squad on the front of a very fast A field in Central Park

Luckily Chip Bandito was dutifully serving his CRCA marshal duty to hear my baffled attempts to explain what had just happened.

Luckily Chip Bandito was dutifully serving his CRCA marshal duty to hear my baffled attempts to explain what had just happened.

The pack rolling through the boat house early in the CRCA Club Series

The pack rolling through the boat house early in the CRCA Club Series

Johnny B flying the team colors on Saturday

Johnny B flying the team colors on Saturday

Resigned to my fate, I watched the rest of the race with my lovely wife who had come to the 6:30 AM race to watch, and then rejoined the squad at the finish for our ride over the GWB through NJ, back into NY, and to breakfast.  

I enjoyed the post-race team ride but based on how the race turned out I wondered whether my near-term NYC bike racing was going to be limited to 3 and 3/4 fields as opposed to the more common 1/2/3 combined field.

Sunday's race in Prospect Park would provide some answers...

MEANWHILE CityMD WINS THE W FIELD

Unlike TBD, CityMD Women's Racing dominated the women's field points race. Helen Hatch represented the CityMD women in a strong three rider break that gobbled up the points on offer for each sprint and then Shane Ferro followed it up to win the final field sprint. This cemented 1st and 4th places for CityMD. The day was theirs.

The three rider break in the Women's field rolls through the Southern end of the park

The three rider break in the Women's field rolls through the Southern end of the park

Followed by the pack, with CityMD on the front to monitor the proceedings 

Followed by the pack, with CityMD on the front to monitor the proceedings 

 SUNDAY: Prospect Park

The Lucarelli & Castaldi Series Race #2

The 4AM alarm and 6:15AM start time in Brooklyn helped to distract me from the fear of failing two races in a row. Having been severely humbled the day before, my strategy was to conserve, never work too much, and sit-in as much as possible until the last two laps of the race.

I met up with Matt on the Upper East Side at the early hour of 5AM and then set about the forty minute ride through the city to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. 

Cutting through an empty city at 5AM on the way to Prospect Park (photo @photorhetoric)

Cutting through an empty city at 5AM on the way to Prospect Park (photo @photorhetoric)

Life as bike racers in New York City: arriving pre-sunrise to pin numbers in the dark

Life as bike racers in New York City: arriving pre-sunrise to pin numbers in the dark

To my great relief Sunday's 1/2/3 field was just another bike race - granted one with a no-nonsense brisk pace - but much more inline with my expectations and experience racing in 3/4 and 4 fields in New York City than my 'redline' experience the day prior. 

I stuck to my conservative strategy for the opening two laps but felt comfortable throughout and by the time we hit lap number three I had enough confidence to ride aggressively with the other TBD racers in the field: i) Matthew Vandivort, ii) Patrick Torpey, and iii) Richard Scudney.  

The ensuing 8 laps were the most fun I have had riding a road bike on concrete in my entire life. Feeling evenly matched with the combined field's riders and despite having a few less teammates than some of the bigger teams, TBD managed to cover every break or have someone in every break up until lap 10, when a break got off the front at a time when the four of us were spread throughout the field. I for one was recovering for the final two laps when I expected to have to cover more breaks.

So whether just luck or timing, the end result was not on our side and after 10 laps of attacking and covering moves the first attack that all four of us missed was the one that got away. Despite a big effort by TBD sprinter Matthew Vandivort on the last lap to chase those riders were destined to stay away by a mere handful of seconds at the line. 

I was in the middle of the chase group for the final sprint, which was surprisingly calm with the top 5-spots locked up up the road.  Moreover, I was relieved that my sprint had enough to not be completely and totally swarmed by the Cat 1 and 2s in the field.  

Clay Parker Jones pre-Prospect Park race.

Clay Parker Jones pre-Prospect Park race.

Race hangovers

After a roller coaster of a racing weekend, we headed back to Matt's to watch Paris-Roubaix with waffles and chocolate chip cookies. Going back to the work week the next day I think I have the worst race hangover since cyclo-cross season. I cannot wait to do it again next week, and the week after!

Thank you to Lucarelli & Castaldi LLP for sponsoring NYC's 2017 racing series.