NJ State Crit 8/26

Cycling

Thanks to Yehudah and Sruli for coming out to support, and for all the other support coming from Juan’s family, Mike’s family, Scoop’s family and Ted’s family. And everyone else who came out to watch and race – today was insanely hard and an awesome race at the same time.

Watching Scoop and Mike race before me gave me the slightest inkling of an idea of how difficult the course would be. Scoop was constantly in pain, and Mike was being thrown around like a football. I’d never before seen Mike hurting this bad – I knew it was going to be a crazy tough day.

Today was my first day racing in Cosmic greens. It felt as cool as it looked, and riding with Juan, working on a team, helped cool heads prevail, knowing that I was working towards a greater goal. A break was planned to materialize with 15 minutes to go, at which point Juan and I woud attack mercilessly until the field let us go.

That break came way earlier – probably 10 minutes into the race (not 30 minutes, as it was a 45 minute race) – and when it came, I hadn’t realized until they had a bit of a gap on us. Even if I had realized, I was too close to the back to have done anything about it, so I just put my head down and recovered.

The race began with a steep uphill, which gave way to a 20 second descent. The descent had the potential to be dangerous, with the lead rider constantly coasting downhill, and everyone flying by him. Luckily, the pace was pushed VERY high, and all the racers were very on edge – we kept the rubber down. After descent came a hairpin turn which can be negotiated sans breaks, but of course we bottleknecked. Followed by a tight, sweeping right/left combo, another right turn, then the home stretch – a 90-degree slight uphill.

The last uphill, which led into the start/finish line, was only as bad as it was, because of the steep kick that came after it, just before the downhill. The race pace was constantly changing, always evolving and morphing to meet the slope of the course. We were hammering one minute, then soft pedaling up a hill, spinning 100+ RPM the next minute.

I’d love to tell you about my personal race. Here’s what I remember.

We were lined up, and the ref was in the bathroom – so we began without him. I was in the small ring up front accidentally, so I shifted to the big ring. Then we hit a hill. It hurt. Then we went downhill. It got really hot. I saw Juan ahead of me. I tucked in behind him. I saw more riders up the road. Maybe 10. It seemed to early. Juan opened up his jersey. I unzipped mine too. I got antsy; moved to the front to chase the break. Too early, too many hills. I pulled off. Juan pulled off too. I almost got dropped on the big hill. Learned my lesson after that – switch to big gear in the back and SPIN. I was spinning as often as I could the rest of the race. I went spinning past Juan. I looked back. Juan was gone. 2 laps to go. I was in third wheel. Ted screams to stay right there. I try to stay right there. I elbowed some racer with a moustache who tried boxing me out. I stayed third. 1 lap to go. I stayed third. Last little climb. Everyone spread out. I lost the idea of where I was. I started spinning faster. I was fifth. Someone was just up ahead as I rounded the corner. My mouth was hurting, I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t catch him. I took fifth. I wanted to throw up everywhere. I didn’t finish the cooldown lap.

7 of the however many original racers in the break survived, landing me 12th overall – 5th in the field sprint. We had 35 or 40 start the race – only 18 finished, I think.

It was the toughest course I had ever raced. I definitely wouldn’t call it a crit, but I barely noticed – riding in green was blissful.

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