2021.06.05 – Ocean Spray Saturdays at T-Town

T-Town weekend is back. This month I have three race weekends there, all starting on the fifth with the second Master’s & Rookies event. As soon as it was safe to assume that we were going to have good weather I signed up for the Masters 45+ field along with my teammate Brean Shea and Terrence Chioffi (TC)(CRCA/42x21ATQ.) Chris Salucci (DCC) signed up for the Men’s 35+, while Ben Connolly (Central Park Raccoons), Scott Gregoire (Deno’s Wonder Wheel Cycling) and Russ Roth all from the New York area filled in the Men 4/5 field.

Some of the other riders from the New York area included several Juniors from Star Track, Madeleine Knox (KruisCX) in the 4/5 Women, Christine D’Ercole (IAMICANIWILLIDO Racing) and Laura Pilar Munoz (DCC) in the Women 35+, and Jim Lyman (IAMICANIWILLIDO Racing) in the Men 55+.

Due to low numbers, the organizers ended up combining the Men 35+ and 45+ into a single field which meant that Salucci and I got to race together along with Alyosha Smolarski (CRCA/GF Capital/ H&E Enterprise).

In order to get to T-Town, I have to wakeup at three in the morning. Sadly I woke up at two forty five, robbing me of my last fifteen minutes of sleep. After breakfast and such, I was on the road by four in the morning, arriving in Queens by five for my first pickup of Ben Connolly and Chris Salucci near the Ed. Koch Queensboro Bridge. Following my first pickup we drove over to Brean’s place and arrived there by five thirty. A few hours later we made arrival at T-Town somewhere around seven thirty. I was happier with the earlier arrival time as it gave us more time to get registered, get our stuff to the track through the tunnel, and on the track for some needed warmup.

The heat started to kick up at nine when the racing program was about to start. The racing schedule was modified due to numbers to the following:

  • Men Cat 4/5
  • Women Cat 4/5, 35+, 55+
  • Junior B (10-15)
  • Junior A (10-15)
  • Men 35+ & 45+
  • Men 55+

4Km Point-a-Lap Race (12 Laps): The procedure was the same as the last time we raced here: the start was not going be at the rail but on the back stretch with a full neutral lap. Shortly after the gun fired signaling the start of the race when we exited turn four, TC attacked, getting some good separation from the field. This meant that if he stayed out there he would collect all the points on each lap, and our race was basically a scratch race. The rest of the group did not feel like chasing TC, so I tried to play it safe by not doing much work at the front. In fact I tried to force Chris Salucci and Alyosha Smolarski to do the majority of the work on the front.

In the end, coming onto the final straight, I was out sprinted to the line by Brean and Johnathan Chambers (South Mountain Cycle & Cafe) which gave me a fourth place finish. I was satisfied with that, I really tried to out-sprint Johnathan but I did not have it in me to get ahead of him.

Unknown Distance: We ended up having a much longer rest between events because Scott Gregoire took a heavy fall with another rider in the second Men 4/5 event, with both of them needing to go to the hospital. While waiting for the track to be opened back up for racing, Brean and I had a short tactical talk about the upcoming Unknown Distance race. We rolled off the back stretch and quickly formed up on the track. I moved up behind the entire group, high up by the rail. Exiting turn four, when the gun fired, I had to soft pedal a few pedal strokes in order for Chris Salucci to clear the path since he was below me and slightly ahead of me. As soon as I could clear Chris’s rear wheel, I launched down the hill at full gas. My power meter informed me later that I put out over one thousand watts on that attack.

I flew down to the sprinters lane and I put my head down and motored as hard as I could until I reached turn three. At that point I looked back over my shoulder and saw that the field was way behind. This gave me the encouragement I needed to just keep my head down and get as aero as I could and try to not drop the intensity. Jesse Shotland was on the back stretch and I kept hearing him yelling encouragements of some kind. Being in la la land I honestly do not know what he was saying.

After some unknown amount of laps, I heard Jesse shouting that someone was bridging up to me. It had to be TC. And I was right. TC joined me off the front, and we took a few half lap pulls, but that did not last long and TC took off from me, leaving me behind. I kept going. I made some glances over my left shoulder and the field was way back.

Just as I was going into the bell lap, Chris Salucci surprised me from my right. He had also bridged up to me, but I never saw him approaching since he came around from up high on my right, and I was only checking my left shoulder. Unfortunately I did not have the legs to respond. I could only watch as he pulled ahed of me. Coming onto the final straight, I had third place wrapped up and there was no chance that the field could catch me so I sat up and just cruised to the finish line.

Despite trashing my legs in this race, my attack had reinvigorated me, and it definitely boosted my confidence in my form, although still not where I would like to be, and gearing choice.

Miss & Out (down to 3 riders then 1 to go): This race did not go to my liking at all. On the first elimination I was playing the devil, in the back and up high. My plan was to come around top and sneak ahead of the rear most riders, but I completely forgot that Andrew Brennan (South Mountain Cycle & Cafe) was doing the same thing behind me. On the main straight, he came around and squeezed me out. Race over.

Feature A, 10Km Scratch (30 Laps): Having been eliminated first in my third race, I felt I had something left, and I wanted to finish with an empty tank. This scratch race had a combo of the following fields: Men Cat 4, 35+, 45+ and Women 35+. I think we had about fifteen participants. With my legs still feeling quite trashed, I was not in the mood to be on the front, so I kept myself mostly in the top five to mid pack in the pace line. I think a lot of people were tired and had the same thought. We were also popping riders off the back. I found the pace line to be a bit more slinky for my likes, but I put up with it and stayed patient.

The lap numbers tumbled down pretty quickly. With two laps to go, TC launched off the front. I think many of us were expecting it so the remainder of the group ramped up and followed. Coming out of turn three I spun my pedals as fast as I could. I was able to out-sprint Ben Connolly and Chris Salucci. I was now barreling down on Brean’s wheel when he sat up before the line, and I thought something bad was happening, so I momentarily soft pedaled to get stock of the situation. I still did not beat Brean to the line, I was just behind him and I bagged the fifth place finish, which I was happy with.

All in all I had a much better race day than the previous event. This really helped boost my mood and morale. I even managed to hit my highest heart rate in several years at 189, although I am sure that the heat had something to do with that. After gobbling down some WaWa food and driving the crew home, I finally got home at about six in the evening exhausted but satisfied.

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