More of the Same: CRCA Club Series Race Number Two
There are many ways to categorize races. But at the most basic level there are memorable races and not memorable races. Through no fault of their own the weekend schedule of park races that are a staple of NYC bike racing can often fall into the latter category. Not because they are not well run and generally great events. They are both of those things and all but vital to the health of racing in the city. But for better or worse any cyclist that calls Manhattan or Brooklyn home spends so much time riding in circles around Central and Prospect Park that the races start to blend together in our memories.
Perhaps we were coming down from the Grant's Tomb Criterium high or perhaps it was a function of the weather but preparing for the second race in the terrific CRCA Club Series felt a bit underwhelming. Allegedly spring has arrived in New York City but after another midweek snowstorm temperatures were hovering around freezing as we dragged ourselves into Central Park planning to tack a handful of additional laps on the tally of easily more than a thousand I have done in recent years.
Vague notions of memorable and non-memorable races aside the Lucarelli & Castaldi CRCA Club Series seems to be running smoothly this year despite all the trials and tribulations that go on behind the scenes (kudos to CRCA VP of Racing Julius Quito for surviving another bout of pre-race drama today). As a result there is no doubt that the pre-CRCA race routine is the most pleasant of any race or race series in the area with the ability to pin numbers the night before and to roll to registration 15 or 20 minutes before races start thanks to an efficient and well-run sign in process.
We were however thrown for a slight loop for the second race in the Series as the Rambles bathroom, which can be quite important for some racers' pre-race rituals, was closed due to construction. So instead we huddled around registration trying to stay warm and retelling stories from the nonsense that fills our team slack on Fridays.
32 Degrees, Two Hundred racers And a Start Line
Eventually we rolled to the start line joining two hundred or so other brave souls who decided that it makes perfect sense to pedal bicycles in circles at sunrise in late March. This start line ritual seldom changes though there was one minor addition for the second race in the series as the club rolled out leaders jerseys for the first time in several years.
Six More Laps
Eventually we rolled off the start line for six laps around the Park. The pace was high initially with lap two proving to be the fastest of the race for the main pack. Shortly thereafter Erwin took advantage of tired legs in the field and snuck into a good break with a handful of other riders. It was a long way from the finish but he had already proven his ability to find success from a break in the season opener.
Back in the field we pedaled some and chased for a bit but the real excitement came in the form of obstacles scattered throughout the course. There were the NYPD vehicles that decided to park on the main drive in the fastest part of the course. That was fun. But then the fun levels really cranked up when two large NYPD dump trucks pulled onto the drive in between the field and a group of riders up the road. By now those sort of obstructions are part and parcel for racing in Central Park and so they were handled largely with ease.
Eventually a larger group of riders bridged up to Erwin's break, diminishing his chances but guaranteeing that the effort to chase would come out of the field behind. The last two laps for the peloton were super chill as all of the placings were up the road with a forty five second gap toward the end of the race. There was a bit of a sprint at the end for placings too far down to matter while up the road Erwin finished somewhere around the top ten while Victor from Rockstar took home the victory. In the end everyone from the squad kept the rubber side down so we'll chalk this one up as a success.
CityMD Crushes Their Race, TBD Crushes Post-Race Coffee
With the race done it was back to the rituals of Central Park racing - gathering around the Rambles parking lot to share results and tell stories. Our friends at CityMD Women's Racing crushed it in the Women's field where Lucia took home the win with a massive solo break early in their race. Meanwhile in the B's Clark and Cullen avoided a number of unfortunate crashes with Clark sprinting to a top 10 finish behind a break with the bigger teams that finished well up the road from the main pack.
Eventually we realized that we were standing around shooting the shit in near freezing temperatures and begrudgingly moved on with the final Central Park race ritual: coffee with the squad as we tried to warm up. In the end the second race in the CRCA Series was far from the most memorable race we have done. But to get up before dawn and get in a challenging bit of racing before 8:30AM followed by coffee with the squad and a return to the warmth of our respective apartments before 10AM is pretty damn good. Thanks to CRCA for another great race. Now if Spring weather would just hurry up and get here...
Results, Results, Results
Full results are up on USA Cycling, but to summarize it was a day for the breaks as the only field that stayed together through the finish was the C Field:
W Field: Women
Lucia Deng, CityMD Women's Racing
Kristen Faulkner, Dave Jordan Racing
Jodie Hein, Breakaway Courier
A Field: Men 1/2/3
Victor Gras, Rockstar
Ross Baldwin, Jamison-Cannondale
James Stephens, Weather Channel
B Field: Men 4
Emmett Gross, RBNY
Conor Delanbanque, Good Guys
Dieter Egli, NYCC
C Field: Men 5
Garth Runkel, Danny's Cycles
Masters: Men 40+
Michael Sambrano, GF Capital
Matthew Slossberg, Dave Jordan Racing
Ben Noble, GF Capital