Monday, July 19, 2010
2010 Al Toefield Memorial Road Race 35+
Well I'm working again- this time for more money (per hour) as a consultant. Let's see how this goes. My life is a Dilbert cartoon or something, I swear.
Thought I would let you know. The drought of June is over as of four weeks ago. I went from a block of 0 miles in four weeks (in June) to completing 937 miles in the past 4 weeks. Also- my weight is down to 165! I'm happy about that.
Saturday I went to NY to drop the wife and kid off at JFK (Turkey for 6 weeks). I stayed in NY to race Al Toefield Memorial at Prospect Park. That was a total blast- completely full field of masters, including lots of local talent. On Friday I did 15 endurance/tempo laps around the park (51 miles) as an opener, having taken Wed and Thurs for rest. My sister literally lives 3 blocks away from the park so I rode there (on 4 hours sleep) and lined up to start at 6:30 Saturday morning. We were doing 10 laps of a 3.4 mile course. I cramped up! Halfway through the race I was nursing cramped legs. Felt good otherwise! The big ring hill was pretty easy for me, even though I was using the upstroke to save my quads from seizing up. Four guys were up the road from the gun. I thought they were long gone. I didn't realize it but we caught them, so the final sprint was for the win, not for 5th place. That's not really an excuse for my 15th place, it was a pleasant surprise actually because I thought I was around 20th. Quite frankly, with two two go I was falling apart like a Chinese motorcycle on the climb, and thinking "just get to the finish, you're lucky if you do".. What incorrect thinking!! Leg cramps do not instill confidence though.. so I do not blame myself too much. Final time up the hill, it was pretty mellow. Everyone was watching each other, with the finish only 3 miles away. I pulled myself together! Riding primarily on the left side of the field turned out to be my mistake because in the final kilometer I made it up into the top 20 guys, trying to pick the correct wheels.. when the leadout train suddenly swerved to the right to go around the last guy who took a pull. I was caught out on the left, behind traffic. Fortunately the cramps did not blunt my sprinting instincts because I found the holes I needed to keep pace with the leadout, but totally exposed in the final 400 meters, on the left side of the road. I made up some ground but faded/cramped in the last few meters, where two guys barely pipped me at the line. The prizes were 10 deep, and after the finish I reckoned I was in the top 20. In NY they rarely ever bother ranking anyone who finished after the money makers, so I approached the camera person- extremely friendly dude on a laptop reviewing the finishes, and he offered to tell me where I ended up. That's when I discovered that there was no break up the road. That sprint was for the win. We counted from the winner back and I was 15th guy across the line, out of a full field of 85. In hindsight, I regret not knowing that we caught the break, but the reality of my final lap was that I gave it everything! My heart rate was pounding at 194 after the finish line. Scared myself a little bit actually. The real regret I have is being caught out on the left side of the leadout when the action was on the right. What I learned from this race is that I was strong enough to finish top 10. Maybe the laps I did in the park Friday were a few too many. Maybe getting only 4 hours of sleep was a big factor in the cramping.. Who knows! I'm pleased with this result, much more so than my "also raced" result at the Attleboro Pro crit last week. Now that I recall it, I also cramped in the 30+ race which followed (at Attleboro). Why why why??? I left out the scariest part of Saturday's event- the crashes.. They were spectacular. Parts of the Prospect Park course are very fast- we were going 35+ mph without any doubt on the downhills, closer to 40 when we were strung out. One of the crashes was behind me. I heard but did not see them. Two crashes were ahead of me and it was like an explosion in the field. Bikes and bodies were being launched outward from the detonation- I swerved hard to avoid a bike or a person taking weird bounces towards me. Two other crashed were to my right- in my peripheral vision and very scary because we were cruising at the time.. I felt like hay in a needle stack- and very lucky (skillful?) to have avoided all those falls.
After the race I did 8 more laps of the park to collect myself and cool down, though it was getting very hot. Including my two warm-up laps, I did 20 all together, about 68 miles. Racing at Prospect Park is a lot of fun and it's very well organized. The only thing I do not approve of is that if you're not in the money, you're not ranked- not on Bikereg, not on USA Cycling, not even on Road-Results.com. I love that there is a waist high pile of backpacks at the start/finish area- it is a safer place to be than you would imagine. They have been racing here since the 80s at least. In fact the 2nd time I ever raced a bike was at Prospect Park, back in 1988 (I did my first ever road race in a snowstorm the day before, somewhere near Albany). On a cold April morning at 6:00 am I remember standing in line with my buddy Derek Larson outside a van, where Al Toefield himself (I think) was collecting entries and handing out numbers. A young George Hincapie won that race (combined juniors and cat 3-4s?) and Yours Truly got his doors blown off. Has it really been 23 years since my first bike race?
Thanks for reading.