28 March 2005

Patrick's Pen: Tales From the Peleton

A Visitors Guide to Anaerobia
CRCA Easter Sunday Race

Submitted by Patrick Littlefield

It's like deja vu: Here I am again at 4:15 a.m., in the kitchen, in the dark, pulling on the lycra and mixing my bottles to go out in the freezing cold and race my bike. What the hell is the matter with me?? It's EASTER SUNDAY for you-know-who's-sake. But out I go, to dobattle with the young and limber.

Easter Sunday, back in Central Park. I'm hiding in the Cat 5 field. Shouldn't be here really, but I wantedto ride with a few of my friends who are Cat 5 racers, so rather than ride my own ticket, which is Cat 4, I'm illicitly doing the 5 race on a one-day license. Oooooh, quick someone call the cycling police! So, second race of the season. This is only 2 laps ofCentral Park, so it should be fairly quick. I registered, pinned on my number, and rolled out for a lap and a half warm up. A bit of Tempo then a few short, hard kicks to let the legs know what's coming.

Rolled to the start line, found the boys, said hello to a few guys from Long Island and we're off. Unlike yesterday's race, this starts sharply, some ofthese guys wanna show everyone they're real bike racers in the first 500 yards. Literally this thing goes hard single file before we've made it to the Obelisk! I catch a wheel, settle in and look around trying to spot who might be dangerous in this field, as there are a few very young kids with us it seems. All together down the hill at the top of the park, and when we hit Harlem Hill the first time we are NOT soft-pedeling. Peak 1-minute effort of the day is the first time up the hill and still one of the young'uns goes off the front solo.

HA! says the bitter old bald guy, he'll blow by the end of the rollers and be off the back by Tavern On The Green. Wrong. He wasn't kidding and was gone for almost a whole lap. Only an organized effort got him back just as we hit the base of Harlem Hill the second time. So it was a stiff first lap, but since this is only a two-lap race now it's...SHOWTIME! A few feints and jabs by the fitter guys in the group, with the real hitters sitting tight saving it for the EastSide. I roll towards the front past Summer Stage and as we planned, I drilled it past Tavern to Columbus Circle. Only problem was, we were already flying along, so I only raised the pace by a marginal amount. The boys and I (the CRCA guys) were supposed to be 1-2-3-4 going around the bottom of the park and back up past the Carousel to discourage anyone else, but when I looked behind me, I only saw Ericon my wheel. Matt and Craig got boxed in somewhere. Best laid plans often go awry.

So Eric pulls through past ColumbusCircle and I'm blown, I float five guys back and push back in to the paceline abruptly ("sorry dude"). Eric does his bit and pulls off, having wasted energy like I did, and its status quo up Horseshit Alley past the carousel. We fly up the rise past the skating rink and I found a gap on the right to get back to the front. I figure I 'm not gonna sprint with these guys--no upside in that--so when we crest the rise I pulled onto the front and led the field out to the bottom of Cat's PawHill.

It was my intention to lead the field onto Cat'sPaw Hill, but once we hit the bottom, the fast guys came right around me and it was GAME ON. So for the second day in a row I watch as the boys hurtle into the Republic of Anaerobia as I roll up the hill, happy with my lot in life, but confident this was my last time in aCat 5 field. Been there, done that, onwards and upwards. For the record though, today's Cat 5 race was more intense than yesterday's Cat 4 race by any measure except distance and total kilojules expended. Peak power output for any given amount of timewas greater today than yesterday. The Powermeter doesn't lie. Go figure.

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