Saturday, May 26, 2007

NYC race

A mountain bike race in Manhattan? You don't say? It isn't true? Oh yes! It is true. The fine folks at the New York City Mountain Bike Association have worked very hard to obtain approvals and grants to create fine mountain bike trails within New York City. The first being the High Bridge Trails in upper Manhattan just off the George Washington Bridge. The weekend of May 19/20th marked the grand opening. What better way to kick off the grand opening then to host a mountain bike race?

The High Bridge Trails consist of a nice 2 to 3 mile cross country loop along with some dirt jumps, a wall drop and some downhill trails. You would never guess these photos were taken in Manhattan.

The cross country race course consisted of a start heading down the sidewalk on Dyckman Street. Then it turned onto a paved walkway that was nothing but climbing. At the top the course turned into some tight, technical singletrack (Rough Ryder trail). That trail traversed and meandered up to the top near the dirt jumps and BMX area. Then the course became what I'll refer to as one of the best spectactor courses. It wound back and forth on itself throughout the rest of the High Bridge Park. Eventually making its way down to the start/finish on the corner of Dyckman St. and Nagle Ave.
Anyway, Lots of sponsors helping support and make the weekend a success. One of which is our very own Vicious Cycles. I was there Saturday helping out, spreading the word, riding the course inbetween rain drops. Found out quickly that this course was a lot harder than I anticipated. Second time around I got the hang of the terrain and was almost back to the Vicious Cycles booth when psssssttt. Sliced my front tire on either a rock or piece of glass. Stan's wouldn't cut it so I had to throw a tube in there. At least this happened when I wasn't racing......

Sunday morning. The Germans, Zoltan and I climbed into the Avant and headed into the 'city. Met up with Dave, Tim D., Harlan and some of my teammates: Tim H., Justin, Aaron and Salem. Starts were delayed, the sun was out and it was getting hot. Tim H. decimated the Expert 40+ group on his singlespeed (he also would have won the SS group with his time). Dave showed 'em who's boss by winning the Clydesdale class. Harlan set a blistering pace to win the Pro/Semi Pro field. Aaron rode extremely well to take 2nd in the Sport 40-49 group. Justin ran into some troubles in the Expert 30-39 but went out fighting! Tim D. and I worked hard for top positions in the singlespeed class despite equipment issues (2nd and 4th respectively). Salem spent the afternoon educating fellow riders on technical skills through one of his clinics.

Right from the get-go the pace was fast. They started the singlespeeders in the back of the Pro/Semi-Pro and Expert fields. Tim D., Sean (Bethel Cycle rider) and I took off down the sidewalk and onto the paved climb wheel on wheel. Nearing the top where the pitch steepens Tim put the hammer down and dropped Sean and I. From that point on Sean and I yo-yo'd back and forth between 2nd and 3rd positions. During the 3rd lap (out of 8) Sean pulled away from me in search for Tim. He later caught Tim and went on for the win. Tim had issues with his Camelbag which prevented him from drinking so he wasn't 100%.

Nearing the top of the paved climb I could see that the guy in 4th was catching up to me. By the time we've gone through one hole lap (the singletrack) I've pulled away from him. This went on and on for a few laps until I came over the big rock face near the start/finish and heard pssssfft. Back tire flat. I rode out onto the sidewalk hoping that Stans' sealant would seal up my tire. Nope. Now I'm at the start/finish entering my 5th lap only to stand there changing a rear tire. Dave came over to take my rim strip and hand me a new water bottle (Thank You Dave). Within a few minutes I had a tube in the rear tire and was back in the game. Unfortunately I lost my 3rd place position.

I rode my ass off trying desperately to get back 3rd place. Couldn't quite bridge that gap and my legs were fatiguing fast. Lap 7 I noticed some hints of muscle cramps in my quads. Drank more Accelerade and at some more food. Harlan passed me and so did Tim H. on their final lap (and my 2nd to last lap). I felt like I was standing still relative to them but kept on trucking. I now knew 3rd place wasn't happening and I couldn't see anyone behind me so 4th place it was. The eighth and final lap was tough. My body wanted to shut down and just about ever muscle in my legs was on the verge of cramping. I eased up on the tempo to save the muscles (assumed, and hoped, I had a good gap on 5th since I never saw anyone behind me). Got up the climb and through the Rough Ryder trail. Now I'm up at the bmx track and knew it was mostly downhill and a fun trail to the finish. The tempo increased a bit which also increase excitement!

Next thing I know I'm at the finish line claiming 4th place (2hours 16minutes). Winning SS class time was 2hr 3mins so I wasn't that far back. My time would have won the Expert 19-29 class and I would have come in 10th in the Pro/Semi Pro class. Guess I'm riding at Semi-Pro level now after only racing Expert class for two seasons. Its been kind of hard for me to judge since I've been predominately racing 100milers on a rigid singlespeed (versus shorter 20something mile courses on a geared bike). We'll see how I do at Mount Snow this year and at a few of the Root 66 races.

Hanging out in NJ this fine Memorial Day weekend. Next weekend Tim D., Harlan and I are out in Ohio for the Mohican 100. Until then...


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