Again we met at the Penn campus. This time we had a bit of car trouble (one guy's car wouldn't start), so it was 6:10 by the time we arrived in NY. The races start at 6:30. Hmmmmm. We jumped into our biking clothes, and gave Pete our money and hastily-filled-out forms. Pete lead us into the park, and he waited at the registration table while we warmed up a bit. The first race was starting as Pete came back with our numbers. Eeeeek! But we got our numbers pinned on and got in place in time for our race to go out.
This time, we were doing 3 laps around the loop, instead of the two of last time, for a total of 18 miles. I vowed to time this race. The previous time I was more or less senseless with fear ("What the hell??! I'm in a race!"), and it never occurred to me to time it, thereby getting an average speed. Also, last time I had a bear of a time getting clipped in, partly for having the wrong foot out, partly for nerves. This time, when the countdown was over and the guy said "Go!" I started my timer and got my foot attached to the pedal quickly.
I stayed with the front of the race until the "big" hill, AKA the 110th St hill. Then I slipped back rather rapidly. But after I got to the top of the hill, I didn't lose any more ground and stayed with that group of folks until the end of the race. Tiffany, Lauren, and I were in the same group all the way. We were the last Penn people, so Pete rode with each of us at various points in the race, giving helpful hints to us all. It was comforting to see my teammates around me. We'd also say "Hi" when one of us passed the other, and if one of us was in a pace line and another was off to the side, trying to squeeze in, the other would let her in in front of her.
I have gotten to be a master at wheelsucking. I stayed behind people, and when others took off, I grabbed their wheels and kept with them. For one stretch our group was following two guys riding side-by-side, and we were going along very casually. I looked at my bike computer. 17 mph, in a race, on a flat? This situation was crying out for someone to make a break, but no one did -- we all sat there and relaxed.
Eventually this broke up. Later I noticed that Tiffany was leading the group. She did this for quite some time. Wonder Woman!
At one point we spread out going up a hill, and was I near the front of a knot of people. I was sitting on a guy's wheel, which was what I'd been doing the entire race. He looked back, saw me, and pulled off. Hmmmmm. Now I was in the front, a position that makes me nervous. I had two alternatives to find someone to draft. I could wait for someone to pass me. Or I could go up to a guy I saw, not all that far ahead of me, and grab his wheel. Being that I'd been taking it easy the entire race, I had lots of energy, and so I went for the guy in front. I got him, but still had plenty of energy. I swung around and went for the next person, who was Tiffany (or maybe it was in the other order...). Getting to her, I still found that I had lots of energy. I went on. Tiff said "Go for it, Myra!" as I passed. There was a guy in red a ways up the road. I went for him. This guy was harder to catch than the others. I buckled down and pedalled and slowly gained on him. I got to him. There was no one ahead on the road, so I slipped in behind him. And then people passed me left and right. So I grabbed another wheel and stayed with the pack.
Pete later complimented Tiffany and me on our teamwork -- Tiff had lead the attack, slowly decreasing the gap between us and the guy in red, and when she was burnt out, I, who had rested in the pack, jumped the gap, leading our group up to him. Well, Tiffany's part was intentional, but mine was purely accidental -- I only took off because there was no one around to draft. And I didn't even know there was anyone behind me, but of course I should have -- being as how I was so careful to catch the wheels of almost everyone who tried a break, it should have been obvious to me that I wouldn't be alone.
Just before the finish line the Pro-1-2-3 race caught us. This pretty much jammed the course, and there was no room to sprint for the finish. I didn't even come out of my saddle -- there was no place to go. By happenstance I was ahead of Lauren and Tiffany when we crossed the finish line. The end of the race caught Tiff by surprise -- this was her first time on this course, and she didn't recognize it. She was very upset at herself, since even in the jam she could have passed some people at the end.
The three of us were in the second group to cross the finish line. There were two women in the first group, and so we were 3rd, 4th, and 5th women in the race. I don't know our standing overall, we were probably again at about middle. All our guys (Cary, Jonathon, Roger, and Dave) finished in the first group.
And I forgot to stop my timer after we crossed the finish. Oh, well. Next time... It was 53 mins by the time I remembered it, partway thru' a final cooldown loop around the park.
We waited for the other races (containing Brian and Randy) to finish, then loaded up the cars and headed to Cadwalander Park, Trenton NJ, the site of the race we (QCW and the Penn team) are hosting April 9th. Races run there every weekend, and even tho' most of us couldn't race due to not having USCF licenses, we wanted to at least ride the circuit to see what it's like. Randy, who'd split immediately after his race, while we lollygagged around, was already racing by the time we arrived. We cheered him the first few times he went around, probably embarrassing him. We got our bikes going and rode around a few times, getting a feel for the course, and moving out of the way whenever the pack passed us. When Randy's race was done (he was very worn out from the first race and had contemplated dropping out, but thru' sheer tenacity hung in until the end) we packed up and headed out.
In retrospect -- I did much better than last time. I wasn't afraid, there was no danger of me getting dropped, I handled the downhill curves well, staying on the inside, I sucked wheels like a pro. But I really wasn't tired by the end of the race, which tells me that I spent too much time sitting in people's drafts. Time to get more aggressive. For example, that time we were mosying along at 17mph would have been a great time to make a break. I would have been caught, certainly, but it would have at least livened up the race. And it certainly would have been more fun than sitting on wheels all the time. Tiffany felt exactly the same way. So next time we're going to be making some breaks, picking up the pace of the race when it slows down. It occurred to me that if we'd taken off a few times and gotten our group going faster, maybe the Pro race wouldn't have lapped us... Well, something to think about for next time.
Pete's official race report follows:
RACE RESULTS, 3/19/95
The dress rehearsal is over!
In their last race before the collegiate opener, the Penn Cycling Team traveled to NYC's Central Park once again, entering 9 riders in 3 different USCF events.
In the Sr 5/Citizen 18 miler were Penn's Cary McConlogue, Roger Quon, Jonathan Crabtree, Dave Copas, Myra Van Inwegan, Lauren Slawe and Tiffany Pezzulo. The race split into two groups on the 1.4 mile 110th Street climb (7% ave grade). McConlogue, Copas, Quon and Crabtree made the front group. Van Inwegen, Slawe and Pezzulo were in the second group. The race came down to a field sprint. McConlogue took 3rd, Crabtree 8th and Quon 18th.
For Quon this was a vastly improved performance over last week when he had been dropped like a stone after missing a counter attack cresting one of the parks infamous false flats.
For Dave Copas it was his first race of the year. He finished honorably at the back of the first group.
Coming into the finale, our three women were the main motivators in their group. They also showed a good grasp of team tactics covering all potential breakaways and even riding a prolonged organized chase for 3 miles to bring back a solo attacker. They finished 3rd, 4th and 5th women overall in the race.
In the Sr3-4 combined event, a brisk hard fought 36 miler, Brian Hirsch battled to finish 15th. He was joined by QCW affiliated member, Mike Lastch. Together they kept a QCW/Penn presence at the point of attack in this race between 125 riders.
Randy Knarr continues his excellent preseason. He once more finished in the top twenty (18th officially) in the ProAm 36 miler. This race was huge, with 186 registered riders!!! Not having enough, Knarr quickly left NYC, drove to Trenton, NJ and raced the Sr1-3 35 miler. That gave Randy 70 miles of racing in one day!!! I guess he'll sleep well tonight.....
Season Opener in Bloomsburg, Pa next week. The team is fit, smart (of course...they're from Penn...) and ready. Gonna be a gas.
Peter Durdaller, Coach Penn Cycling Team, reporting