Grant’s Tomb Criterium 2019: A new NYC racer’s perspective
Having followed the TBD Journal previously from afar I was excited to experience my first Grant’s Tomb criterium, now whilst I didn’t race (I’m in my taper phase for my half marathon next weekend) I certainly got involved as much as I could. The day for me started with a 4am alarm to get up, make a thermos of coffee (<— please insert your brand here) and head uptown from Brooklyn to help out on the first shift of marshalling. Side note, the subway at 5am on a Saturday morning is an interesting place to be; from people drunkingly debating the meaning of life to a girl filling a carriage with vomit, my hour trip uptown certainly had it all.
When I got to the race, I was blown away by the sheer number of volunteers already there. As racers we sometimes are oblivious to the level of organization that goes into making sure a race day runs smoothly. The number of volunteer positions that need to be filled to hold NYCs biggest race is truly amazing. There were 16 marshals stationed around the 1.2km course and on top of that there were the race directors, scoring, moto riders, USAC officials and NYPD (I’m sure there are others that I have missed). It truly does take a village as Matt wrote about last week.
I was stationed at the Riverside Church car garage (not car park as I mistakenly said on Slack earlier in the week) which was certainly a hive of activity on race day. Escorting cars in and out of the garage across an active crit course was quite stressful! I was stationed from 0730 to 1000 and afterwards it was straight behind the lens to capture the rest of the days racing.
The rest of my day was non-stop (according to my Garmin watch I covered 15km for the day) and another thing that really blew me away was the shear number of fields that were available to racers. If you were a cat 3 racer you could race in the 3/4, the 2/3 and the P/1/2/3 (plus masters if you’re wise enough). Many people registered for multiple races and there were circa 800 registrations across the grades! Having multiple races available on any given day and mixed grades is very different from what I have experienced in Australia.
The weather really played nice on the day and it was a delight to soak up the sunshine and watch some racing. By the way, huge shout out to cycling, when I moved to this city about 5 months ago I didn’t know anybody in the bike scene. When I got home I was talking to my girlfriend about how great it was to spend a whole day hanging with my new team mates and other friends who I wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for the humble bicycle. It was certainly a day well spent.
Later on Sunday night after I posted my initial shots to Instagram, Harrison, another bike racer from Melbourne, rightly asked were we able to close off a “block in Manhattan?”, which of course we were but the number of stakeholders we needed buy in from is truly remarkable. Kudos to the CRCA team for their organization and a superbly ran race day. It’s fair to say I am very excited to start racing in a couple of weeks.