In the course of the CRCA season we get all manner of conditions. From the frigid temperature (and occasional snow) at the start of the season to humid August mornings at the end of the season. But in many years of racing in Central Park it's hard to remember a race as water logged as the 2017 edition of the Lou Maltese Memorial.
As the forecast got increasingly worst in the final lead up to the race the team shot around anxious messages regarding the chance of a lightning-inspired cancellation on race morning, particularly given the forecast on Friday night looked like this:
Thankfully by the time my 4AM alarm hit on Saturday morning the weather was much more tame than forecasted - a slight drizzle but no threat of lightning in sight. The early morning stroll to the park was almost delightful compared to our fears the prior evening.
Of course just as we rolled to the start line at 5:30AM the light rain transitioned to a heavy downpour that would keep itself up for the duration of the race - to the point that certain portions of the course were flooded with an inch or more of water.
Men p/1/2 - Matt Vandivort & flat times in central park
The one bonus from the bleak forecast was that there were plenty of no shows - our field felt tiny in comparison to typical turnout for Open Races in Central Park. There was a bit of pace at the start as two brave riders decided to strike out on the first lap of the 8.7 lap race. Perhaps influenced by the conditions the field took it's time reeling them back in, though even once everything came back together there wasn't much pace in the race.
While the field kept things safe through Lasker if anything the theme of the day seemed to be flats - through the first six laps a number of riders pulled over with flats, laving our small field further reduced. Since I was racing solo I was happy to mostly bide my time in the pack - I covered a few moves when necessary and wound off the front with small groups once or twice but I was aiming to save my legs for the finale.
Unfortunately as luck would have it I never made it to that point - on lap number six I flatted at the north end of the park. Thankfully in anticipation of the conditions I was racing with a saddle bag and was able to get back on my bike relatively quickly, even doing a bit of moto pacing off the back of the follow moto for two laps when the field rolled back through.
In the end a break snuck away on the lap following my flat and managed to stay away for the win. Sad emoji.
Women Open - cityMD's Lisa Vandivort gets 2nd
Despite being a relatively sizable field there wasn't much in the way of pace for the Women's field. There were various attacks but then things would slow significantly which just reduced the chance for the next attack to stick.
As a result the race came down to a field sprint - at first I setup on Aimee's wheel but when a Radical Media rider came through with some pace I jumped on her wheel so that Aimee and I were in separate lines in case one of us got squeezed.
In the end it was Mim Gilbert from Dave Jordan that jumped first - putting in a big move that I followed and then came around. As I hit the front I tried to drop a gear but my rain soaked drivetrain wouldn't cooperate so I just went high cadence and tried to hold it to the line. Unfortunately just before the line I heard Colleen Gulick from Pickle Power making a late charge that carried a ton of speed around me though I managed to hold onto 2nd, making for a very similar podium to the Dave Jordan Central Park Classic.
Men 3 - Ted Teyber: the break didn't want to stick
The Men 3 field at Maltese was a good race and despite the wet conditions the race was reasonably fast and relatively safe. The TBD squad raced well, pretty much matching move after move with Rockstar who were the other main antagonists.
I kept thinking a break would stick, but even with the right teams it didn't as everything kept coming back together. Erwin, Rich and myself were all off the front with some separation at one point or another, but Foundation seemed to want it to stay together. Erwin in particular had a big effort over the top of Harlem Hill that was caught on the UWS of the final lap.
Despite our best efforts to split things up it came down to 20-30 guys bunching into the chicane before the Tavern on the Green finish and with that size group things inevitably bunched and keeping a clean line became a matter of luck as much as anything.
I got my line chopped twice in the finale and managed to avoid grabbing my brakes but was pushed way outside, at which point I just sat up and rolled across with Rich. Tough luck not to grab a result but after burning a bunch of matches trying to break the race up and with everyone on the squad keeping the rubber side down it's not so bad.
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/