Well the 2016 racing season has officially begun, on the right foot, I might add. I took first place at the Century Road Club Association (CRCA) Central Park bike race on Saturday March 5th. Dedicated cyclists from throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City roused themselves to race around their favorite park at the crack of dawn in below freezing temperatures to kick off the season.
The women’s Cat 1/2/3 race took the racers around the 6.2 mile park drives six times. Here’s how the race played out. The first lapwas fairly tame with the teams with multiple riders taking turns on the front. I take pull to stay warm. On the second lap up Harlem Hill, a rider from team Rockstar hits it in her big ring, and I follow suit. Over the top of the hill someone yells, “we have a break.” I commit and take a long, hard, pull into the slight down hill. I flicked and elbow and move to the rear of the pace line. I look back and we are away. 5 of us.
Over the three sisters (bumps on the west side drive) and around the south end, we work heard to establish the break and communicate well. I know that getting away is the hardest part, so even though the break doesn’t have the strongest riders in the field, it will stick if we work hard now. Over the next 4 laps, the group widdles down to three riders. Renée, who can beat me in a sprint any day of the week, is my biggest concern. With half a lap to go, I attack hard to see if I can get away for a solo break, but the other two jump on my wheel.
I wanted to avoid a sprint fiish at all costs, so I attack again at bottom of the east side, but after a few hard pedal strokes, I hear the moto and we are suddenly neutralized by men’s A race. By the time they pass us, we are at top of 72nd street and re-grouped. Somehow I manage to get on Renée’s wheel going towards the boathouse. We reach the base of the hill, and as I’m debating when to come aroun her, chaos builds with an ambulance on course and riders from A race scattering the road. In this confusion, I see a gap and jump from Renée’s wheel with about 250m to go. The moto clears a path for me between riders from the men’s race who have sat up. I can’t see my competition anywhere in my peripheral vision, so I consider sitting up to put hands in the air for a victory celebration, but I opt for the fist pump across the line instead.
I’m happy to say that I’ve now completed my first bike race in Central Park since crashing and breaking my pelvis on the east side in July 2014. Thankfully I am physically healed and now I think I’m also mentally healed. I’ve been avoiding bike races since that time, but the fact is: it’s a beautiful sport that I love, and I can’t resist its pull. Especially when I have such an inspiring group of ladies to race and train with on VeloClassic p/b Stan’s No Tubes. Three of my teammates raced the 3/4 race and we had a post-race warming huddle together 🙂
That said, triathlon will be my focus this year, and if this result is any indicator of my fitness, I think my base training has been effective!