Manny Lopez Memorial Rahway River Crit 4/14

Cycling

I’d like to thank Yehudah and Aliza for coming to watch. Aliza, I know you were there for Yitzy’s race, but still. Kevin thanks for coming out and getting your feet wet – congrats on a 5th place in your first race!

Thank you to Andy, Paul, and Dan for being awesome in the break.

And of course, thank you to all of my sponsors and to the entire team Liberty Cycle for some of the best blocking I’ve ever seen. Or not seen. As it was.

Before the race, last night, I was discussing the course with Drew. He had warned me that Liberty would show up, as they did, with a strong force of riders looking to block any semblance of an attack. Me, being the breakaway fanatic (I like to call it “artist”) that I am, knew what my gameplan was immediately: find a strong looking Liberty Cycles rider, wait for him to find himself in a break, make that break.

And so I did.

The race took off and I stayed near the front, where I could be attuned to all the attacks. I worked out in my mind (and I told Yehudah, he can testify) that I would let the first 1 or 2 Liberty riders go, hoping that they would be bait for those more foolish than I. I think I did. BUT what I didn’t tell anyone (besides for Pete) was that I wasn’t actually gunning for this race. I knew that it would be difficult to get a break to stick. I also knew that it would be a course very-well suited to Peter’s needs, what with the downhill finish and all.

So I told Pete: I would try and organize a break. I would do it convincingly. I would try and convince as many strong guys to come with me. We would eventually be shut down, but Pete, who was hiding the entire time, would come out to shine. He would crush the sprint and win.

Or so that was the plan.

You can imagine my surprise then, when Peter attacked in the second lap. Not knowing what he was doing, I got to the front and did my best to block 8 liberty riders, 2 Kissena riders, and an assortment of others.

1 Kissena rider (Andy) sprinted up ahead with a Rutgers rider (Paul)….and then a Liberty rider took the bait. That was Dan. Others began passing me, and I noticed that while they stopped at Pete and got in his draft, the others just sprinted right around him. When I saw Dan go, I knew it was my turn.

From the front, I took off. I passed Peter (Peter speaks proudly of this moment – a father proud of his son. His new creation. A successful break) and sprinted up to the now 4 man break. That was lap 2.

Lap 3 passed.

And Lap 4.

Lap 5.

I could go on all day. We took turns rotating. Our turns were established fairly early. From the start line, Paul, from Rutgers, would pull through the first turn, finishing up his turn. I would take over there. Steer through the chicane, through the first really tight turn (second turn on the course) and just over the hill. Which I sprinted. Just to be sure they weren’t closing.

After that little hill, I’d pull off, just as the headwind picked up. My turn lasted about 45 seconds to a minute. Then Dan would pull. I don’t think Dan was having a good day. His turns progressively got shorter and shorter. I don’t think anybody expected them to last long because it was the headwind, but in the last few laps, they only lasted  about 10 seconds. He only skipped 2 turns, I think. Nevertheless, his presence was as important as any of ours – Dan was a member of the Liberty Army and his being there held them back. He could have skipped every single turn and it would have still meant our staying away. I wouldn’t have cared if he didn’t pull once. Thanks Dan.

Andy would pick up next where Dan dropped him off – right in the headwind. He would pull up until the final corner, which was also tight, then pull off right afterwards. His turn was also about a minute. He would drop Paul off just as the downhill/headwind section picked up, which led into the finish line. And he would pull for about 30 seconds until we reached the first corner.

And so the race unfolded. We heard spectators screaming out: YOU HAD 20 SECONDS ON THEM! 45 SECONDS! A MINUTE, 27 SECONDS!

And then, as quickly as it began, the man standing on the side of the road with a USAC jacket called out “4 TO GO, 4 TO GO’.

Finally, I knew it would stick.

We kept putting time into the field until…we saw them. As we heard the bell indicating the last lap, we were able to see the field. Seeing how it was the last lap and all, they picked up the pace, naturally, but so did we. As we organized for the sprint finish, the field was within 50 yeards of us. We even rode past a few stragglers. That’s how close we were.

Heading into the sprint, Paul was pulling. I think. I was behind him, with Andy behind me. And Dan bringing up the rear. I wasn’t worried about Dan because he seemed pretty wiped throughout the course of the race, but before the break, a rider took a turn wide and hit Andy. Andy swerved to stay up. As I fist-bumped him, he told me, “no sweat, I’m a track rider!”

That worried me. Paul started sprinting early, so I did too. In his draft. Andy passed me, and I tried to get on his wheel to just sprint around him but it didn’t work. There were riders everywhere from the field and I was completely boxed in.

In a photo finish, I passed Paul. I didn’t think I did, but now that I think about it, I saw him give out just before the line as I sprinted through the line. I gotta hand it to him though – it was a powerful sprint after a long pull!

So I took second. The break survived. I made some money.

As race winner Andy Da Silva said, “You were totally the motor.” Thanks Andy. Thanks for humbling me in that sprint.

It was a good day.

First podium for Team Cosmic – Carve Systems ever.

Pictures courtesy of Yehudah Perlowitz.

This is a map of the park. We started at the pool

Joking around about the “Liberty Army” before the race.

Pete up the road. Me, confused, trying to block. Followed by the Liberty Army.

Pete’s break with Dan in tow.

Pete, swallowed up, me chasing the remaining 3.

Early stages of a gap.

The 4 artisans during our first lap. You can see the field in the background.

Like I said. Artisans.

Some good old fashioned suffering, as evident on Andy’s and Dan’s faces.

Invisible aerobars for the downhill.

4 to go.

Andy, in the pain cave, forgetting to draft.

 

 

The sprint.

 

Photo finish.

Andy, Eli, Paul.

Andy, Eli, Paul (1, 2, 3).

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