This weekend was one of those 'take one for the team' race weekends. Meaning I had no desire to do either race. Saturday was Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Sunday was Floyd Bennett Field in...queens? I'm not sure where it is. It's near JFK airport and it's original job was just that - to give a place for planes and other flying things to take off and land. I suppose NYC outgrew it so JFK took it's spot as the top dog of International air travel.
Anyways, it was rippin' hot here in the city this weekend with temps in the mid 90s both days with a scorching sun relentlessly beating down upon my now incredibly intense farmer's tan skin. When I take off a shirt it looks like I'm still wearing a shirt these days... Have you ever seen a finger tan line? Note just beneath the 2nd knuckle and the obvious wrist line. It's even worse on my legs and arms near my shoulders...
So, on Saturday I woke up at a lovely 4:45am so I'd have time to ride down to Prospect Park for a perky 6:30am start time. Champion System had about 10 riders at this race so we should win, right? ho ho. This is BROOKLYN. Nothing goes as planned. A sold out P-1-2-3 field of 95 riders eagerly awaited the start of what was hopefully going to be a safe race. My past experiences with Prospect Park have been sketchy, at best. Crashes galore with crazy sprint finishes for 30th place. Awesome. Today's race turned out to be on the safe side, for my category race at least, and there was only the occasional shady move, but no kissing of the concrete for any riders. Saturday's race was FAST. Really fast. We averaged over 28mph for the entire 44 mile race. A break had about zero chance of surviving at that speed. Superman I am, I tried to get away about 3/4's of the way through the race but just wasted some energy and fell back in with the front group. The plan before the race from Coach Igor was to have a lead out for our esteemed sprinter Rodney if a break did not happen. The break never materialized so it was time for some lead out madness. I shimmied my way to the front and only Igor was present so, um, do we still do the lead out? I decided to try anyway and dropped the hammer with a little more than a km to go. When I turned around no one was with me. What the hell?? So I decided to just keep on going. I was about 99% sure I would not stay away from the field, but whatever, go for it. I went at 130% and got to about 400m and started running out of gas. I had to downshift a cog and knew I was screwed. Not surprisingly, the sprinters went ripping by me and I fluttered in their draft and limped across the finish line for a top 20 finish but no glory. O well, better luck never time.
Sunday was destined to be even more painful. Today I faced a 25 mile commute to the race through less than stellar areas then a 50 mile race on a 2.x mile very flat wide open course on former runway tarmac. Add cracks and weeds and trees that have a tendency to rip riders from their bikes, and you got a great race course! Wind is famous for wreaking havoc at the mighty FBF. It proved to be an issue on one side of the course, but otherwise was pretty tame. Hot, Sunny, zero shade. Ugh. The category 3 group was a part of our race, but there was a catch. They got a three minute head start on the p-1-2 field. I wasn't worried about catching them. At the start, the race announcer, Charlie Issendorf (best race organizer in the city) seemed to think it would be tough to catch them and it would be with 4 or 5 laps to go. Little did he know they were going to crash and we were going to have 20 hotheads out there TT'ing away up front forcing a blistering, nearly unsustainable pace. This race, just like yesterday, was painfully fast. Perhaps the heat accentuates the intensity, but I did not feel like doing anything special in this race. Just hanging on was good enough for me. We had, again, just like yesterday a bunch of guys in the field, and we should since one of our sponsors was hosting the race. About halfway through the race, I took stock of the situation and realized there were only 3 Champion guys left and more than half of the field had either quit or been dropped enough where we could no longer see them. Eventually we had a break happen and one of our riders was in it along with the other strong teams present. Ahhh, my work was done. I could just sit back, rel...no, I could just keep pedaling and finish the race! Long story short: we let the break stick so the top five places were decided and with about 500m to go we cranked up the speed and I gave a lead out to my teammate Igor who sprinted for 8th place overall just getting nipped by two others at the line. But wait, the fun was not over! I got to ride 25 miles back home, after consuming 4 bottles of water, through the wonderful streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Now I sit, sipping a great beer, in the confines of my apartment with air conditioning reminiscing and relishing the remaining hours of another fine weekend. Next weekend is the Hillstown Race in MA - sure to be a doozy. 95 miles with nearly 9k of climbing! Maybe I'll get that last point I need to upgrade to Category 1.