Since there was going to be no track racing today, I signed up for Floyd Bennett Field: A Dash For Cash P/B WE STAND UNITED Category 3,4 race. This was going to be my first ever race at Floyd Bennett Field.
Our field was scheduled to go off at 10:30-10:45 am. We were to race the short course, with 13 laps. The first eight laps there was cash prizes up for grabs for the first person to cross the line. For the first lap they put up $100, followed by $25 payouts per lap, and a $75 payout on the eighth lap. Finally there would be $300-$400 payout 5 places deep at the finish.
With all this incentive I knew we were going to be in for a hard race, even if it was going to be short. Thomas Houghton signed up to race in my field. Mike Merlo signed up for the Category 5 race going off at 8-8:30am. Due to issues we all drove over there in separate cars. Tom and I pulled in together, and arrived just as Mike had finished.
We walked over to him and he said he was feeling quite wrecked. Seeing how he was looking I knew it was going to be a day of complete suffering. The sun was out in full force. There was a bit of a breeze which helped as long as you kept moving on the bike. The breeze would provide a nice tailwind towards the start finish, but also be a bit of a headwind after turn one. Following turn two the wind would be coming from the left.
Tom and I did a bunch of recon laps. Thinking the start was near we rolled over to the staging area only to find out that the race before ours, the Masters Category 1,2,3, was about to set off. I inquired and to my dismay, the race was running almost an hour late. After a while, I suggested that Tom and I head to my car and sit in the AC. It was getting very hot and at Floyd Bennett Field there is no shade. I didn’t have a popup tent so this wasn’t good. Another issue about starting late, is that I had fed and hydrated with a 10:30 start time in mind, not 11:30.
At 11:40 we were at the starting line, dying of heat as my Garmin signaled 107 degrees Fahrenheit. Next time, stocking with ice stuffed inside my kit is a must. Race got going and as suspected it was a brisk start leading into turn 1. It was either this lap or the next one when I got pinched by two riders and rubbed bars while riding though turn 1 over the sand. This had me exercise more caution going into the three turns.
I was wondering which was best, take the turn on the inside, and ride less distance but have to slow down more and then have to accelerate more? Or take it on the outside ride more distance but bleed less speed? After several laps I settled on the inside line. I found that it kept me more sheltered from the wind. My goal was to stay sheltered as much as possible to conserve so I could survive to the end.
The way the race was playing out, no one getting off the front, my mind kept thinking: wash, rinse, repeat. What that means is that I’d make advances up the pack towards the frontal area. In fact on one straight going towards the start finish I ended up around eight place or so. But, in a matter of seconds the whole thing shifted and I found myself towards the back of the big frontal pack. Yes, if you are not constantly moving up, you are moving back.
Around five laps to go, some guy got pushed wide in turn 1, and slammed into the cones with the flags and crashed hard. I was hoping it wasn’t Tom since Tom had faded back. But in this situation, looking back wasn’t an option. I was told there was another crash on the back stretch of the course. I was completely unaware of this.
I was redlining at 181 bpm coming out of the turns, but was able to get it down to 175 on the straights as the group compressed again. Looking over my data, all the laps were relatively consistent time wise. Going into the final lap, I knew it was going to get fast. In fact, my last lap was twenty seconds faster.
Once on the final straight I was past redline at 189 bpm. I tried to surf some wheels and kept the intensity going to the finish line. That is a long straight, and when completely cross eyed, it was never ending. I finished at the rear of the main pack.
Results are not up as of this writing, but as efforts go, it was a bit reminiscent of Boundbrook Criterium in 2016 when I last hit 189 bpm.
After rolling off the course, I went to registration to see if the person who had crashed was my teammate Tom, but as I inquired, I saw him roll through the finish.
With a nice sunburn complete with funky helmet strap marks on my face, it was time to head home and veg ot for the rest of the day.