02 April 2005

Race Report: CRCA #2, 2 April 05

I Want to Be Sedated

Submitted by Matt Purdue

Now I know why the pros take drugs.

Friday night my mother-in-law called with dire predictions. “Heaviest rain in 10 years,” she wheezed. “I’m having a panic attack!” Undaunted, I woke up at 5 a.m. to a steady sprinkle, donned my Gore-Tex jacket and headed out.

At the start line, I was happy to see teammate David “Weather Channel” Regen. Even after warning us all of the coming monsoon, David was out to brave the elements. There were only five riders in the C race, so I figured David and I could own this race for Team Echelon. Even better, the organizers announced they were shortening each race by one lap. Only four laps! Woo hoo.

Then they told us they were combining the B and C fields--and we’d be doing six laps. Thanks.

We set off in a light, steady rain. The pace was snappy from the get-go, riders apparently eager to get this over with. At some point early in the day, a breakaway escaped, leaving us with a group of about 15 riders. While the rain quickly soaked us to the bone, this was the least of our worries. The spray from the tires made it almost impossible to see at times. The dirt, pebbles, leaves and, yes, horse crap kicked up by the wheels was, to put it mildly, disgusting.

After a couple of laps, our little chase group--which now included only two C riders, me and a guy on a vintage Colnago--slowed to a crawl. Either the leaders were blocking for their teammates or their muscles had become waterlogged and frozen. Coming past the softball fields, we were barely staying upright at 16 mph. I was bored out of my mind, and deluded myself into thinking that maybe CRCA would score B and C riders separately at the finish. Time to jump!

I desperately attempted to get away from the group. First I tried jumping onto a two-man breakaway, but couldn’t hang on. I tried two solo breakaways, but was reeled in by our pack. So, feet numb and eyes caked with road crap, I settled in for the last two laps. I entertained myself by watching Setanta’s Todd Brilliant (some of you know him from NYCC) run his own paceline. He was constantly pulling, dropping back, then zipping back to the front—on an all steel bike! He burned more calories than our entire pack combined. The only thing that slowed him down was the loose dog that ran out into the street near Cat’s Paw. He nearly caused a five-man pileup.

The pace picked up to the mid 20s on the final lap, and I spotted Matt Rivera marshalling, his waterlogged jacket plastered to his head. I wondered which one of us was crazier. The pack made the requisite “pride sprint” up Cat’s Paw and that was it. I finished about 5th in the pack, ahead of the other C rider. I was fine with that until I found out that the breakaway had beaten us by 3 ½ minutes!

It was a wild experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. At the end of the race, we all looked at each other with that deranged, hollow-eyed sense of accomplishment usually reserved for POW camp survivors.

Rubber side down.

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