Sunday was the second week of racing for me. It was a busy weekend for racing, to say the least, with Grant’s tomb and a club race on Saturday in addition to Bethel and the park race on Sunday.
On Saturday, my teammate Ivan took 5th in his club race, bringing the Chimps in Training one step closer to a podium.
The plan on Sunday was to sit in during the 3/4 race, try and scramble for a decent sprint and then follow up with a strong P1/2/3 race.
Yehudah and I pulled up about 5 minutes before Mike and Zach, who always travel together and who I was beyond thrilled to be racing with. It was towards the end of last season that I got my 3 upgrade and only had several opportunities to race with them up to this point.
This winter has been tough, which meant I haven’t really ridden with either of them too much either.
As I was warming up for the 3/4 race, I ran into Josh Rovner, now racing for 6cycle. He had won the 3 race at Grant’s Tomb the day beforehand, which didn’t surprise me. 2 of his teammates materialized, along with a new gameplan in my head: follow 6cycle’s moves, keep an eye out for Josh.
As we lined up, I did. I had one eye on the field and one on 6cycle during any move. Immediately, a move materialized. Josh jumped, and I with him. He looked back, swung wide, and I pulled through, smiling. I was happy to work with Josh, knowing how strong of a rider he was. He shook his head, however, and confused, I eased up.
Josh says, “I wasn’t trying to attack, just spinning a little.” In retrospect, it was very early, even if the gameplan was to attack early. I circulated back into the field, as the second 6cycle attack went off. Bryan Fried accelerated, and I watched. Nothing materialized.
The breaks kept coming, and being brought back. I followed moves all day long, burning match after match after match. With 15 minutes to go, Scudney got away with 5 or 6 other guys. I tried to bridge up, but found that they were too far away. Fortunately, my move started a chase.
Also, Wyld Stallyns were there (once both of our kits arrive, you’ll realize our relationship).
They were shut down and I tried to go again.
Nothing. Then, Josh went. I watched him ride away, knowing I couldn’t follow. Going with moves all day wore me down and I simply didn’t have it. He escaped with 6 to go and I knew that was the winning move.
6cycle was at the front, controlling the race for ~85% of the time, which made it very difficult for me, seeing as how I made up my mind to go with every move containing a 6cycle rider – my cat 6 mentality.
Someone kept trying to organize a chase but it was no use. He didn’t want to pull, he just kept yelling at everyone else. Scudney and Fried were audibly laughing as they sat at the front, content with lugging us around slowly.
It was an embarrassing showing. With 2 to go, things kicked up as they always do and I just didn’t care. Deflated about making all the moves besides the one that mattered, I drifted towards the back.
I sprinted at the end but was shut down by some wannabe who swerved across the hill. Slamming on my brakes, I rolled across in 40th or something.
I had another race and didn’t want to go down in the second race of the season.
Josh won his break, as I had assumed. What I didn’t know, was that he had done so in classic NYC-messenger style, with a dropped chain and a fistful of panache.
I ate a banana, had 2 bites of a sandwich and went to go stand next to the Bash Brothers, hoping some of their freshness would rub off on me.
At the start line of the Pro 1/2/3, my legs were on fire (embro?). I stood towards the back and when I had difficulty clipping in, began off the back. As I rounded the first corner, I saw the first attack, already at the second “corner”.
With my head down, I hammered, knowing this race was going to be short-lived for me.
The P1/2/3 goes around the 1.25km course an astounding 46 times. Astounding if you’ve already been racing there for an hour and a quarter. Before long, I was back in the game, mixing it up with Stephan, Mike, Zach, Sam Morkal-Williams and Gary Steinberg. Maybe “mixing it up” is a strong term, but I did what I could.
As soon as I realized how defeated my legs were, my game plan rapidly became one of making Mike’s and Zach’s day as easy as possible. I wasn’t fast enough to block, although I tried that. I saw Mike up ahead in no man’s land, bridging up to a 4 man break, so I bridged up to him. Zach was 2 bike lengths off the front so I darted behind him and allowed myself to slingshot around the side. As I came up on Mike, I slowed down to allow him to grab on.
“GO ELI, DON’T LET UP!”
But by then it was too late. I had lost momentum and barely managed to make it up the hill with the rapidly closing field without being spit out the back. With a new sense of purpose, I sat towards the back and watched the race unfold.
Within 2 laps, Mike was riding backwards, losing positioning rapidly. I rode up alongside him, and with my hand on his butt, pushed him back up to speed. I gave a little kick and tried to bring him up to the front so he wouldn’t be yo-yo’ed.
It worked. He was safe.
A lap later, I was done. Pulling out hurt more than the war of attrition this race had become, but the pain of the race became unbearable. Within 15 minutes, Mike was sitting in the spot next to mine in his car.
Stephan made the winning break, taking second place (to round off that morning’s win and Saturday’s 2/3 win at Grant’s Tomb).
Zach took 9th and Sam Morkal-Williams took 10th.
Only 18 finished the race. The 2014 Ris Van Bethel made us all a little tougher, a little more bitter and a little more #professionallyamateur.