So, final weekend of June… I had done my TT intervals on WED (my suprathreshold power is NOT existant right now!!!), then had a great PowerCrank workout, lotsa time at Tempo and SubThreshold intensities over rolling terrain…
Saturday, I was signed up for the Central Park CRCA Race. We had about 7 Blue Ribbon riders ready for battle. The plan was to have me and Eddy Espitia sit in for first half, then try to force a break or selection in the second half. If nothing goes, then we work to lead John Raheb out in the sprint. We needed to get team points on Alder, Foundation, and Die Hard — this was a huge goal.
Very simple plan.
I was feeling good. When I feel good, I can get ancy and jumpy… This is probably the hardest thing for a rider on a good day to do — HOLD BACK. When an athlete is peaking, he/she STILL needs to remember he/she only has one or two bullets, not six or eight.
So I sat back, like Van Petegam at Flanders, lol, just sitting in the final third of the peloton — seemed like 140 large, just an endless row of riders! — as the laps ticked off… I was out of sight, out of mind.
With three laps to go, I made my way to the front, still feeling very good… An Adler rider took a flyer after Cat’s Paw, and I waited a moment. Alder was all over the front, so I took off like a bullet, thinking this could work. I bridged fast and pulled through, hoping Adler woudl still be there… I pulled hard for 45s, then turned around, and the peloton was strung out and just behind us. Decided to sit up…
After Harlem Hill, there were a few riders dangling off the front, slowly getting a gap, and then Eddy jumped hard, and that doomed the break as the peloton quickly chased… Once caught, I went. We were doing 33 mph, so I dunno if it was the best place to go, but I figure you never know until you try!
So off I go, plowing on the stretch of the course past Tavern on the Green, but I was caught on the run-in to Cat’s Paw.
Two bullets spent. Thomas Pennell, our team captain, rode up to me. I told him I was going to try to go once more… Inadvertently, we BOMBED the descent to Harlem Hill, and the pace slowed, and I was right near the front, so I figured what the hell — time to go.
I attacked HARD right at the base of Harlem Hill, didn’t turn around, just ripped up that sucker at 600w, out of the saddle, and over the top I saw there were 4 or 5 riders with me — and we gapped the field. A rider goes, “Pull, Blue Ribbon.” Lol, pull? I was shot, but there can be no let-up so I kept the hammer down, flying down the descent.
We started to organize and our break started to swell. I immediately noted: Ken Harris, David Taylor, Axa’s Mike Margarite, John Loehner, Daniel Zmolik. Eddy Espitia from my team also bridged, which was sweet.
We had two laps to go, and that first lap was FAST. I was still recovering from my aggression during the race, but I still tried to do my pulls… On the final lap, Eddy countered with an Axa rider, and it looked to be THE move, but they were caught. Ideally, I should’ve countered, but I just didn’t have the legs. Plus, we needed team points. I didn’t want to try to win and get caught and then dropped. Better to be safe than sorry.
So Axa attacked us repeatedly and eventually got away with another rider. We ripped up Cat’s Paw and sprinted to the Metropolitan Museum, and I’ll be honest — all these Vo2 and Anaerobic Threshold efforts had taken their toll on me. I was right there in the sprint, just didn’t have that special pop…
Finished 9th, right behind Eddy. I was really happy with this, as the field was stacked with talent, I had forced the winning move of the day, and it was only my fourth mass-start race of the year — in late-June! 🙂
I had breakfast with Raheb in the city, and then I went home, got the mountain bike, and jetted over to Lewis Morris. I had gotten the King Kahuna 29er over the winter but hadn’t ridden it yet. So I get to Lewis Morris. This week had been all about volume and solid aerobic work, so I wasn’t concerned with being flat or tired for Sunday’s MTB race…
I ended up doing 3 laps of the Lewis Morris course, 24 miles in the woods (which was very well marked). At first, I was TERRIBLE, was contemplating not racing at all. I had to clip out several times, I crashed twice, I was so slow, I was crawling down the descents. But each lap I got better and more comfortable. I was tweaking the bike and getting it dialed in. Set up the fork, set up the tire pressure. Rock and roll, people!
Sunday I’m back at Lewis Morris again. We had a big field in the 30+ Cat II. The whistle goes off and we go barreling into the woods. In the beginning, the course dips down and plows through a shallow creek. Well, the guys in front of me bus through this at full speed, and I immediately chickened out, lol… I pulled over, clipped out, and 35 guys blew right by me.
Okay, so I’m last place! I can only get better from here!!! The rest of the day, actually, went very smoothly… I was acclimating to the terrain, which was fast, twisty, rolling. Lewis Morris can best be described as a rollercoaster in the woods. I had foom foom legs and was passing people left and right on the straights and climbs, but on the downhills, I was SLOW.
SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH. SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH. I was on the brakes, I could hear riders roaring up behind me, screeching their brakes, too. I was super nice, always pulling over, out of the way, apologizing, lol… MTBing to me was all about fun, no need to make any enemies.
I got better and better each lap. We did 3 laps. Had we done 4, I think I could’ve won. Guys were fading BADLY on the final lap and I was pulling riders back. In the end, I finished just 44 seconds back from 2nd, 40 seconds from 3rd, and 10 seconds from 4th! Doh! Had I not clipped out through the water. Had I not pulled over so many times to let riders pass…
You think these things, but it didnt’ matter: it my first race, I survived, and I had so much fun. 5th was actually very pleasing. Top-5, felt GREAT. And it was so much fun. MTBing #1 is great training #2 great racing #3 helps keep things fresh #4 TONS OF FUN. You feel like a little kid, playing in the woods. Just a great time, the most fun I’ve had all year. HIGHLY recommended.
Post-race, the organization had snacks set up. Bananas, peanut-butter sandwiches, jugs full of water and Perpetuem. Wow. I wasn’t expecting that! So we had the post-race chats, munching away. Some guys came up to me and said I should get Mr. Congeniality of the Day. I was just having so much fun on those trails!!!
And it was great seeing my athletes out there, too… About time I got out there with them! Details coming in next newsletter :).
But my roadie friends go, “Kenny, you’re gonna mountain bike race? Are you nuts? It’s dangerous!” And when I ask my new MTB friends to road race, they go, “Are you nuts? It’s dangerous!” Funny…
MTBing is different, much different efforts, the climbs are steep and short, the turns tight, and I know doing more MTBing will make me a better roadie, and vice versa. While out there suffering, I kept thinking, Okay, these guys are better and bigger than me, but I’m stronger and lighter.
But they were A LOT better… MTBers are amazing athletes, for sure… I’m hooked. I’m racing Kittatinny this Sunday, then am planning to do well at the Darkhorse 40 — 40 miles through the New Paltz woods on August 1st!!!
Thanks for reading.