Sunday was the annual Orchard Beach Criterium, put on by the CRCA and presented the I Will Foundation.
Firstly, a thank you to Yehudah for coming out to take the pictures as per usual, to Dov for coming out and trying a criterium (getting dropped is half the battle!), to Matt Vandivort for putting on a great event and to all my sponsors for giving me the chance to live this unnecessary yet completely awesome lifestyle.
Orchard Beach was to be my first race back after the crash. If I were a normal, functioning member of society, chances are I would have adopted a game plan something along the lines of sitting in the entire race and not contesting the sprint. Seeing as how I’m not normal, it went something like this:
4/5 race: Attack until something sticks. If all else fails, lead out Ivan for the sprint.
4 race: Attack until something sticks. If all else fails, lead out Peter for the sprint.
Unfortunately, being off the bike for 2 weeks did a toll on my fitness and my moniker, “Attack Now, Attack Often”, has never been more ill-fitting.
Team spirit was high before the start of the 4/5 race. Ivan was excited to see his man-crush Vandivort, Yitzy was excited to be wearing his new kit, Dov was excited (he’ll tell it differently) to be racing a crit, Peter was happy to be there…and I was just happy to be racing again. We went for a few warmup laps before the race.
The race kicked off…to a blistering pace. In the first 20 seconds, we opened it up to 25 mph…725 watts for me. Something didn’t feel right. Not once did I stop to consider it was my lack of fitness. I just assumed it was a fast race.
Very soon, the 75 man field began to dwindle…and so did the dwindled field. Amongst the dropped riders were Dov, Peter and Ivan. I
sincerely hope it had nothing to do with the attack I launched early on, but there’s no way for me to know.
There were a few surges before I went, which could have done them in, seeing as how they were all impatiently brought back.
I attacked 7 minutes into the race, finally feeling a little warmed up, although still not really comfortable in the field. I wasn’t moving around easily enough but I picked my moment and went. Coming out of the finishing straight on lap number 4 (if I recall correctly), I attacked into turn number 1, cresting 800 watts. As soon as I got to turn number 1, I realized it was WAY too tight of a turn for me to maneuver at 31 mph…so I slammed on the brakes. Being out in front, I was able to negotiate the turn choosing whichever line I wanted though. So I did.
1 lap after my attack, I realized that someone was bridging. What I didn’t realize was that he was with me the entire time, only a few lengths back. If I would have been more in tune to this earlier on, perhaps we would have lasted.
Coming out of turn 2 on the next lap, our third lap away, we’re caught.
The rest of the race involved a lot of bumping around, trying to recover in the back, then get to the front to vie for a position. I ended up moving up too late, not being able to bridge the 15 feet to the winning pack. I took second in the pack right behind them, which yielded an 8th place for me. 1 more top 10 finish which brings me to 7 in total…but no upgrade points. I shouldn’t be complaining given my whole still-broken elbow and all, but I was hoping for some glory.
Then came the mess that was the Cat 4 field. Here’s what I remember:
Clip in and go. This feels fast. Looking at my computer, this IS fast. Why are we going so fast. Oh good, we’re slowing down. Why are slowing down? Oh wait, they’re not…just the racer in front of you – GET AROUND HIM NOW! I pull out, too late. I’m at 450 watts trying to bridge to the field behind a rockstar rider when POW – his front wheel explodes. He goes head over heels and lies on the ground motionless. I yell at someone to get a medic. The field slows down. I catch them. We pass him – motionless. On his face. Real scary. We pass him again. And again. Matthew’s yelling something about a neutral race until the ambulance is gone. The medics have him on a stretcher, he’s no longer face down. We pass him again. Again. Again. Aaaand we’re racing. Fast again. I finally start to feel good. I get to the front. I remember Tomi saying something about watching 1. Asphalt Green and 2. Columbia. Columbia goes. So does AG. I bridge. Not enough power. I worked too much the first race. I pull off in no man’s land. The field catches me. I latch onto the back. Can’t hold on. I’m dropped. 1 lap. 2 laps. Matt goes, “That’s it, your race is over”. I get to corner 1 – cones set up. Apparently, a crash. I get to the back stretch, ambulance. Another crash. Maybe getting dropped was a blessing in disguise. NP was above 300 for both races. Maybe I lacked the fitness, maybe it was too fast for me. Probably both.
It was a great day – Skoop went on to win the P/1/2/3 field while Mike continues to race with more grit than any racer I’ve witnessed since I’ve seen videos of The Cannibal. Matt V. demonstrated some SLEEK aeroness and Tomi endo’ed from putting out too many watts (in the 3 field). Moseley beat the 6 man junior field. We rode through the Bronx to get some Shawarma in Wash. Heights afterwards, then rode home to Jersey for a night of sleep that couldn’t be beat.
Next stop: Sussex Country Fairgrounds. Maybe.