Nobody knows but it’s provocative. It get’s the people going!
First off, we had a road race in Prospect Park – 7 laps around this dangerously quick course. Following that, Yehuda trekked Yitzy and I up to Central Park for the annual Colon Cancer 4 Mile challenge – to be Yitzy’s first race.
We got to Prospect Park with plenty of time to spare, but time ran out much quicker than I thought it was. I finished up in the restroom (second time, that’s how I knew it was going to be a good day) just as I heard Mr. Van Dunk over his PA system. Bad news – I hadn’t gotten my number yet!
I fly on over to the table, grab some random number, tell them to hook it up to my name, and striped off my Cosmic jersey to pin it onto. That’s right. For the first time, I felt ready to wear Cosmic Wheel’s layman’s jersey (not to be confused with Team Cosmic’s intergalactic green jerseys). Later in the race, I would draw inspiration from my representation.
I spot Ted in his Team Cosmic jersey easy enough, and he’s sitting about two bike lengths behind the 3,4 field, so I mosey on up to him and we chat for a couple minutes as the 1,2,3’s go off. Ted leaves.
I’m left alone with nobody I know at the front of the 5’s. Today, I raced as a man with no team. A man with no team, but a heckuva bike shop called Cosmic Wheel.
Immediately, I found myself pulling the pack – exactly what Ted and I discussed I wouldn’t be doing. So I slowed ’em down to 20 MPH (according to my 705) and waited to see how long until someone jumped at me. Probably about 30 seconds before I was swallowed up.
That lap, Harry (of Kissena cycling) beautifully organized a paceline where we’d all take equal turns. And by us all, I mean the 5-6 race leaders. Which aggravated some people, on account of the fact that the rest of the peloton was being extremely lazy today. Nobody was pulling through, and by lap 2, it was basically Harry, me and 2 other cyclists who were doing the work.
This went on (rotating paceline between the same 5-6 guys) until lap 5.
At the beginning of each lap, there’s a bit of a climb, a false summit, and then another small climb. With each lap though, that “bit of a climb” becomes nastier and nastier. Especially when Harry’s out front. He hammers up that hill, and on lap 5, I made the mistake of trying to keep pace, instead of pulling off. It almost cost me dearly as I was swallowed up and found myself towards the back of the pack. I used this as an opportunity to yell at everyone around me for sitting in the whole race. I preached what Harry had been preaching the entire race – pull through, do your share of the work, and people will respect you.
They seemed to “hear” me, but nobody heeded my word. So I got back up to the front and right back into the paceline.
There was one break at some point, I’m not quite sure when it formed. It must have been when I was in the back. All I remember is asking somebody if those were our guys or 3,4’s who were spit out the back. They comfortably told me they were our guys but if we worked together, we’d reel ’em in soon enough.
Except we weren’t working together.
Lap 6, Harry took the lead again and really kicked up the pace. The paceline was rotating as fast as it could – as soon as the previous rider’s front wheel cleared your back wheel, you’d pull off. We were working like a well-oiled machine, and we caught them about 250 yards shy of the bell lap.
Oh and there was a $50 prime somewhere, I think fourth lap, but I forgot exactly when. As expected, everyone went nuts, except for the 5 or 6 of us pacelining. Come to think of it, this may be when the attack formed. Either way, we regained control of the race fairly quickly.
On the last lap, at the climb (2.5 miles from the finish line) 1,2,3’s caught us but we didn’t slow down. Now at this point, I was already towards the back, as my ritual was slowly becoming on the climb. My legs just felt tired, but I thought of my jersey, thought of the cap I was wearing, and decided I just needed to dig a little deeper. I caught a wheel, and pulled back into the race just as I was about to be spit out.
Today was my day to finish with the field.
But it wouldn’t be that easy. We were a mess. The 1,2,3’s had orange numbers which looked exactly the same as our pink numbers in my accelerated state of oxygen debt. All I knew was we were on the right, they were on the left. So I got myself in the middle, grabbed onto someone’s wheel ont eh left, and found Harry and three other riders in the front, right behind our pace bike. Who was slowing down. Here we were, 1.5 miles to the finish line, with the downhills in front of us, and nowhere to go. We all slowed up a bit as the pace bike finally thought it was a good idea to let the 1,2,3’s pass on our left.
That was when someone behind us crashed. I remember looking at the guy on my left (other field) and before he said, “that didn’t sound good. Not at all,” I knew exactly what he was thinking. I lapped back after the race to check on the guy, who was riding for Kissena, and he said he thought he broke his collarbone, but appeared to be in fine condition, other than that.
Anyways, the pace bike pulls up ahead a bit as soon as the 1,2,3’s pass us, and I find myself third wheel with a mile to go. Harry pulls off and situates himself 2 riders behind me. I turn around and see that the rest of the peloton looks like they’re getting ready for a Tour De France-esque sprint finish. It wasn’t until I turned around that I realized I was now in the wind, now in the lead, as the last rider ahead of me pulled off when I turned around.
But the pace bike was right there. He couldn’t have been more than 3 bike lengths ahead of me. I could taste his gasoline. Where were they planning on going? So I looked down and hammered. 24.5 mph and I was holding it. I could feel the lactic acid pooling in my overworked quads.
I watched helplessly as, with a quarter mile to go, the sprinters took off from behind me: missiles locked on to their target. My legs had nothing left, and I knew I had to spend less time at the front in my next race.
I came in top 20 but the results had been neutralized due to our inability to give the pace bike enough room.
After my cooldown lap, we bolted to the car fast as we could – had to be in Central Park, 8 miles away, in 30 minutes to pick up mine and Yitzy’s number.
Steve actually picked them up for us, and after a bit of confusion, we found him along with the rest of the Maccabees and we all changed into our new shirts for Yitzy’s (Yitzy Frankel, of YU Fencing, not Yitzy Fuld, my brother) new organization – Kooma Israel, raising money and awareness for Ashkenazi Jews suffering from colorectal cancer/who could use a test.
Yitzy and I accidentally switched numbers which worked out well – I started 4000 spots behind him, and picked off the runners as Natan and I hammered out 1.5 7:00 miles to catch Yitzy. My legs were dead, but it felt good to be running fast again – I haven’t ran this fast since the first 3 miles of the Miami half-marathon back in January.
I caught Yitzy, waved Natan on alone and coached Yitzy through to a sub-8-(unofficial guesstimated results)-minute-mile-paced race. His first race ever and he did splendid. He attacked the downhills, recovered on the flats, and breathed easy on the uphills. He’s got a lot of room for improvement, but he performed far better than anybody’s expectations could have had him at.
Then we took a picture and went home.
30:42, for a 7:41 pace
Now it’s time for swim practice…the life of a triathlete.