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There are some places in this country (and world) which hold different standards of uniqueness, individuality, and complacent originality to societal changes. New York City is one of those places. I awoke at about 3:05 Saturday morning, about 10 minutes or so before my alarm actually went off. This occurrence of myself waking up just before my alarm goes off happens 95% of the time the alarm is set. Just coincidence? Was I really even sleeping to begin with? I grabbed Big Red (see picture below), filled him up to the brim with some black potion, awaited for it’s chemical reaction to happen in my blood stream as I stared blankly at my computer screen eatig a bowl of Raisin Bran; Two scoops I might add. I hit the road from Jersey a little after four and made it to the city just before five.

Big Red

New York City is an entirely different place on an early Saturday morning. Aside from a few people dragging their bodies home from a club or bar, the streets are empty, the traffic lights mostly green, and only taxis cabs are available to fight and yell at. I began my search for a place to park the car. I was hoping for a spot somewhere near Central Park because that’s where the race was. I think I drove the entire perimeter of the park before I found what I thought was an “OK” parking spot. It’s funny but growing up on Long Island you only drove through the city, never into it. A train was always a cheaper and easier form of transportation. But, once I’m driving through the city my Long Island driving angst settles in an I feel right at home. There were two signs above my car. I was in the clear until 9. Central Park races only last until a little after 8AM, so I had nothing to worry about.

I changed in my car while a few people walked by and gave me some funny faces. Changing in ones car for a cyclist is common place. I’ll admit it’s a tight squeeze in my Hyundai.

This was a big morning for cyclists in or around the New York City area. As I said in a recent blog I was excited about this race as it was only a Pro 1/2. The beginning of the race saw almost no attacks and the pace was mediocre. I was just itching to get going today. My legs felt good, I’m at the peak of fitness in the season, and this race doesn’t add the pressure of many other races. I don’t feel the pressure as much here because Central Park was my first stopping ground for racing bicycles. I know the course, and the uncertainties of race tactics are limited compared to other races.

Suffering somewhere in the break.

Somewhere around the third or fourth lap there was a hard acceleration on the small climb of the lap. I found myself near the front charging up and over the top. As I looked back I noticed there were about 15 of us who had broken away from the field. “Sweet!” I thought to myself. I would much rather work hard in a break than try my chances in a field sprint. You have as much luck of winning a field sprint in Central Park as you do winning B-I-N-G-O at the local church. The seniors/veterans always time their moves perfectly, just like in a game of bingo where the seniors always seem to sit in the right place to get the best cards.

Back in the break we were working well together for a while but then 3 guys jumped from our break. Ah! I somehow did not feel this jump as a big deal as they flew past me, but when they started to gain a little distance, I panicked a bit and attacked. I found the rest of the breakaway on my wheel but not willing to bridge to those 3. Ugh! The loop is too fast in Central Park to go at it alone, I needed help.

Near the front (in red) at the small climb of the first hard
acceleration which caused the breakaway.

Once we got to the other side of the loop I saw the main field closing the gap and I need it was only a matter of time before they caught us. Once we were caught I stayed near the front of the field for the sprint but I had burned most of my matches by that point. I was still in the top 30 for the sprint but I was a little upset once I found out those 3 who jumped stayed away with 30 seconds over the rest of the field. Again it was one of those “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda, moments. It was a great learning experience. I now know if a similar situation arises to become more committed to chasing down those who jump rather than waiting for others to do the work. In bicycle racing you can’t really assume anyone is going to do anything. You almost have to commit yourself and then either hope or forget about others behind you. Overall it was a good race and I’m satisfied with my effort. The pain was apparent but as the season and years go on I’m able to accept this pain and suffering more and more.
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