21 March 2005

Race Report: Metro Series, Central Park, 20 March 05

Submitted by Eric Faber

Team Echelon riders: Joe D., Eric, Matt Purdue, Matt Rivera

I hadn't raced in Central Park since October 2004 and had forgotten what a great race course it really is. Afte two weeks in Prospect, I realize the former is more to my liking. First of all, Central Park is wider and it's known as a "power course.” Tough when riding as an individual, it opens up and becomes fast and easy with less stress when in a pack. With the sky "spitting" intermittently on a moist road we were off @ 6:30 am sharp!

This was a two-lapper and our group decided to ride hard throughout and keep the peloton "honest” (to paraphrase Purdue). All four of us made a conscious effort to be at the front at the start. Maybe it was the wet road, but all the riders were on their best behavior. I felt immediately more relaxed than the previous two races--especially after the first climb up Harlem Hill where I found myself around 3rd or 4th position at the top with Purdue to my right and Joe D. behind me.

On the west side, Rivera decided to stretch his legs and pull to the lead for a couple of minutes. I thought I'd get in on it and pulled up well and then pulled off only to find the pack following my wheel. I then made the signal with my elbow for the rider to pull up, but he stayed there and I bided my time until a new line on my left formed and I caught on in around 4th position to stay out of the wind.

Nothing too exciting happened the rest of the first lap, but the pack (in my recollection) was reduced from 25 or so to about 14. After the first lap, Purdue got bold and moved up to 2nd or third and stayed there! Again all four of us ascended Harlem Hill with good strength and speed (I glanced at my Astrale and it was at 17.9 mph. at the top.) Once we got over the first roller, Rivera hit the pack hard with an attack and Joe D. had to remind me to stay cool as Rivera was softening them up. Rivera really did pull his all.

On lap 2, all four Echelon riders formed a single paceline near Strawberry Fields with the reservoir on the left. Purdue instructed me to move to a faster line coming up on the left. I complied and then let him in front as I was beginning to tire and we were now going about 30mph as we drove down downhill along Sheeps Meadow.

That was a great moment when all four of us were lined up. We were also talking strategy a little too loudly (I suppose we need work on some non-verbal cues) and some of the stronger riders knew it was time to really pick the pace up. Then the pack split our group of four, with Rivera and Eric on the left and Joe D. and Purdue. on the right, separated by a group of about five riders. With Matt R. surging on the left, Joe D. and Matt P. maneuvered all the way around the front of the pack. Approaching 72nd St., Purdue apparently decided it was time to turn up the volume. He sprung ahead to lead Rivera and opened up a small gap on the pack. Rivera chose to slow the pack from the front and Purdue suddenly found himself out alone. “Go, go, go!” Joe yelled and Purdue stepped on the gas.

He opened a gap of about five seconds on the pack and was able to maintain it until tiring on the uphill near the carousel, where the group finally reeled him in. Joe and I were placed in the top 5 or 6 with three strong guys. One guy named Eli, who I rode with once about a month and a half ago doing Nyack Via Bradley/Tweed. The other two guys were Kansas and a tall dude on a flagrantly lime-green Cannondale. As we came up toward the last turn before the straightaway heading to Cat's Paw, I though this would be my chance to lead out Joe and I took off and took the right side as I passed Purdue, who was leading the line on the left. I assumed Joe was behind me, but realized I made a mistake and didn't give him much of a heads up. So off to the front of the race I went with about 200 meters to the finish. As soon as I hit the incline I knew I didn't have it. Soon enough I heard Joe behind me yelling out support to me. All I could tell him was that he had better go around me ‘cause I was done! He did as I asked and passed me, as did pretty much the rest of the remaining pack of 12 or so. I looked back for Rivera, but didn't see him. I don't blame him if he dropped off the pace, because he was beast for a lap and three-quarters. Joe surged ahead to finish 10th, Purdue was 11th. Eli and Kansas flew past me to take 2nd and 3rd. I think I was 12th out of 14, with Rivera trailing the lead group.

Overall it was a really fun race, and one in which we used some tactics. It may not have gone exactly as planned, but I think it was definitely a step in the right direction. I think the form is improving nicely for all in late March. I can't help but think of what we are capable of if we could have at least six guys in our group in an organized fashion. It might be the difference maker. I crossed the finish line at 33.04 (about 8 to 10 seconds slower than the winner). My average speed was 22.14 miles per hour.

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