With some sort of spring starting to finally grace our lands, the need to get on the racing bandwagon grows stronger. Having suffered through miserable weather throughout most of April, getting out to race and properly train has been a struggle. Therefore I’ve been eager to get a bunch of races in the legs in order to build my race fitness before the summer arrives.
With that in mind, I signed up for the Lucarelli & Castaldi Cup race in Prospect Park Brooklyn for their third race of the series. Nicos agreed to come and race the category five race. I think he was happy that I offered to drive.
Tom decided to tag along and maybe race in the category four race. He ended up registering, and racing with me. Races such as Prospect Park and Central Park usually start at about six in the morning, which means a wakeup time of two thirty in the morning. On the upside, that would mean we would be back home between nine and ten in the morning. Perfect for getting on with the rest of the day, or perhaps napping the day away.
Compounding the early start, weather predictions had called for rain from three to about eight in the morning. And what would you know? The predictions came true. Having pre-registered, I didn’t want to lose out on my forty bucks, so I sucked it up and prepared as best as I could for a rain race.
We met up at a park and ride just off the LIE, and a few minutes before four we set off. We arrived at Prospect Park and found a good parking spot right by 3rd street, which is were the start finish is located for the race.
After registering and pinning numbers, we set off on a recon lap. It wasn’t quite raining but the roads were all wet. Finished with our recon, I changed my clothing around a bit as I was too warm with my original choices, even with the rain.
While changing, a random cyclist asked us if we could quickly change his tube in his flat tire. The other guys might have thought that he was a racer, even though it turned out he was not. But we helped him out nonetheless. With less than five minutes before the start. We quickly got the tube in and pumped up and raced off to the starting line. Just in time, we got to the line as they made the announcements before sending off the Pro/1-2-3 field.
Just as we set off, the rain started to come down. I knew this was going to be a sketchy race. Wet roads, wet white lines, carbon rims with carbon specific brake pads, this was going to be tense. My goal was a top twenty finish. To achieve my goal, I had to make sure to stay in top third of the field. This would keep me out of the crash zone which is popular in the mid and rear of the field, and it would keep me in touch with the front guys.
During the early laps, Tom stayed up close to the front and kept an eye on things, sometimes helping to suppress riders wishing to get off the front. I worked hard in the ever shifting pack to keep myself out of trouble. As they say, if you are not moving up, you are moving back. This became apparent on a couple of occasions, due to some slow ups, the mid section of the field swarmed around me, pushing me back into the middle of the pack. All that work needed to be repeated again.
At some point just past the midpoint of the race, I hit a big enough hole to pop my bottle out of its cage, sending it bouncing around the road. I just hope no one suffered any ill consequences because of it. For me, I now had no more drink. I am not sure I was going to need it as I was drinking plenty of road grime off the wheels in front of me.
On another occasion, going up the hill, I got stuck behind a large rider, who slowed down considerably, causing me to loose my momentum. I had to wait for a pack of riders to go by on both sides before I could pull out and make up lost ground. Mental note, on the hill get on the wheel of the small guy, and on the downhills get behind the big guys.
With two laps to go, the race started to heat up. By then Tom had faded back, and it was my turn to come alive, and be very attentive of what the front of the race was doing. It didn’t help that we had a few KOM and Sprint bells with two laps to go. Since I’m not a series contender I wasn’t even going to waste any energy on those points.
I was elated to hear the one lap to go bell. My legs were really starting to tire out, and I could no longer feel my fingers, even with the neoprene gloves. The last lap was indeed the fastest lap of the race. I ensured I was in constant touch with the front. Going up the hill for the final time I pushed hard, and tried not to get blocked by slow climbing racers. Cresting the hill, I did all I could to keep my eyes from rolling into the back of my head from the burn my legs were experiencing, but I pushed on, knowing I still had a quarter of a mile to finish the race.
We are told that after eight place there is no sense in sprinting and making yourself dangerous. I wasn’t going to sprint like mad, but I still wanted a strong finish, so I pushed as much as I could and picked off a bunch of guys.
In the end, eighty two registered, sixty two started the race, and forty nine finished the race. I was able to grab a fifteenth place finish. My best Prospect Park finish, and well within my goal of top twenty.
Post race, we rolled back to the car. Thankfully, Nicos, having finished his category five race before us, had started the car and turned up the heat. After racing in the rain and wearing half of the Prospect Park dirt in my face and jersey, getting changed and into a warm car was very much welcomed.
Then disaster struck. In packing up the car, I left my Garmin Edge 1000 on the roof of my car. After driving several blocks we heard it fall off. Backtracking we finally located it in the street, and by then it had been run over, destroying the screen and damaging the secondary Micro SD card. Luckily the unit was still operation so I could retrieve my data form the race. Bad news I need a new computer with turn by turn for my upcoming trip to Italy.