26 April 2005

Race Report: Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 4/24

Hi Team,

Things went well, especially considering it was my first Cat. 4 race (it was actually a combined field, cat. 3 + 4).

Of course, it started raining just before I woke up, so I slapped the fenders on and donned warmer clothing (they came off before the race). It took me longer than I thought to get there, so I rushed a bit (well, a lot) and was therefore pretty warmed up.

My race was the cat. 3/4 field, 37.5 miles, 11 laps with a field of about 40; it looked like there were more cat. 3’s than cat. 4’s. The Prospect Park loop has a few narrow spots and curbs but for the most part it wasn't too scary.

After the first lap, I wasn’t sure I could hold on for the whole race, but I was determined not to loose contact with the pack. At times the speeds were pretty fast, but I had enough juice to pull ahead when I saw opportunities. It seemed like most of us simply took turns near the front, and for the most part, the pack was never spread out that much. There were breaks all the time, but they all got caught. As the race wore on, the pack seemed to be happy enough to take it relatively slow for short periods.

The pressure was usually on climbing that one hill; this is where the speed would pick up, and I’d have to really push to stay in contact, but it wasn’t too hard to move up once the hill was over. On the last lap after the hill, the pack was split in two; I was towards the front of the second group, and the first group was pulling away. Once past the hill, I went into time trial mode and just pushed like hell. It took me nearly a mile but I caught them (and towed about 10 guys with me). Unfortunately, that left me pretty spent for the finish (which was long and flat). Once the finish was in sight, Everyone bolted, including me. To be honest, I don’t really know how I did; there were at least 15 people ahead of me, but I don’t know if they who were 3’s or 4’s.

If I learned anything, it was that it’s more important to stay with the pack than anything else. It would probably have been less effort to keep up on the hill one way or another than to catch them with a virtual time trial effort. I could also be closer to the front, since my being about 3/5 of the way back was why I got separated when the pack split up. I didn’t get out of the saddle at all to climb; since the hill is long (maybe ½ mile) and not very steep, it made more sense to say seated and just get in a good rhythm. Another mistake I made was after the race—I just coasted to a halt and got of the bike, then stood around eating energy bars with some friends for a good half-hour. When I got back on the bike to go home, I felt like a 99-year-old man getting into a cold tub.

It was great to ride with these more experienced, more predictable, stronger and less dangerous racers, and I know I beat some of them, so I’m pretty happy. I was not too cold, and I never felt like I was dying or anything (the worst I felt was in the first ¼ of the race, pretty typical for me). Before we got to the last lap, I actually entertained thoughts of trying to place in 5th or better in cat. 4, but I used up my reserves catching the pack. Overall I’m pleased.

-d

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