Words: Gavin Chow The Campagnolo GFNY Championship race is always a special day for the Racing Team. It’s our title sponsor race, it’s the one that has brought us together as a team, and we have the incredibly special honor of being one of the few teams that get to line up at the front, amongst some serious local and international competition. And, best of all, this year we got to be completely Pro, not just for the day, but the entire weekend! That started at 8:00, on Saturday, a full 23 hours before the start! So here’s a recap of an incredible four pro moments from an amazing weekend. Oh, and my race report too.
1. We got team photos! We’d been talking about getting team photos for a while, and this would be the perfect weekend to get them. We’re all at peak fitness, we had almost all of the team in one place for once, and we had access to the official Race Photographers of GFNY, Sportograf. If you’ve seen their work, you’ll understand why we were pumped – these guys are the best. So we duly assembled at 8:00 am inside the Oculus in freshly laundered GFNY Racing Team limited-edition kit, and freshly shaved legs, ready for our photos. After some inside shots, we headed outside to scare some tourists with our mini green-train, all set against the stunning backdrop of one of the most stunning Calatrava buildings on the planet. Then we set off to Penn Pavilion to stretch the legs and got an awful lot of heads turning as we cruised up 6th avenue. #pro.
2. No doping allowed Cue Sunday, 5:30 am, and Ramon and I are amongst the very first on the bridge. As we snagged a spot for the team right on the starting line, a man from USA Cycling appeared, and asked us to step off our bikes for an inspection.
Now, let’s be honest – we’re Cat 4/5 racers, who can only ever dream about being in contention for the win on the full GFNY 100, especially when lined up against ex-Pro and Cat 1 racers, and winners of the 2016/2017 GFNY World events. And now we have the man holding an official UCI motor-testing iPad to check our bikes, and our legs, for hidden motors. Just like the pros do in the World Tour. I don’t think Ramon and I could stop laughing through the whole thing, and boy did it take our excitement levels from an already high 9 to 10. Or maybe 11. And we hadn’t even started yet. #ridiculouslypro.
3. Did we just get a shout-out from the race announcer? Now, 90 minutes of waiting is a fairly long time, but for once it was way more pleasant than the weather forecast predicted. We spent our time doing what every other GFNY competitor does – catching up with friends old and new, discussing race strategy and taking pics. Having made friends with a couple of the photographers the previous day, we got to have another amazing and unique team pic with 5,000 people lined up behind us. Then we heard it – a shout-out from race announcer Whit to call our presence at the head of affairs… Cue a few looks from some 5% body-fat racers checking us out to see what sort of threat we would pose on the course. Little did they know that the only threat we’d pose would be the sprint to be first up to the car, but hey, we know we psyched them out just a little. #insanelypro.
4. Pro-racers attack from the start! As a team, we go into every race with a race plan. We’d spent the previous days talking about conserving, nutrition, pain management etc., and had each prepared plans that were geared to achieving our goals and not killing ourselves out of the gate. Alas, that all went to pieces realizing that we were on row 1 and that we had a clear shot at flying down River Road with the best of the bunch. The attacks started before we even cleared the bridge, with the front of the race hitting close to 30mph (48km/h) just seconds out of the gate, and we knew that our mission was to stay with it as long as we could to position ourselves cleanly on River Road. And, secretly, because we wanted to be in more epic photos. Most of my first 30 minutes were spent at or above FTP, with a few too many spikes around 700W. Just like a pro race! #racinglikeapro.
So what about the race? Well, if you must know, it was pretty darned awesome. I made it to the top of Bear 20 minutes ahead of my time last year and felt pretty good. As expected, the second half was brutal, with my climbing legs deserting me, muscle cramps starting to appear at mile 80, and a block headwind fighting us – so I spent quite a lot of time hiding behind people crawling home. Still, I made it to the finish ahead of my 6-hour goal, in 5 hours, 50 minutes and 26 seconds. I know I did everything I could have done, with 69 PRs in the books, a normalized power of close to 2.96W/kg, and best of all, in the top 20% overall. I’m pretty pleased with that. No, wait, I’m ecstatic with that!
Roll on the Campagnolo GFNY World Championship 2018!
Most importantly, some thank-yous on behalf of the entire GFNY Racing Team: to all the volunteers out there, the marshalls, the police who kept our course clear, the Sportograf team, the moto riders, and anyone who came out to watch and cheer us along, thank you – this wouldn’t have been possible without you. To our friends, family and loved ones, thank you for putting up with the hours of training, constant bike-talk, and strange pre-race rituals. And most importantly, to Uli, Lidia, and the entire GFNY family – you guys are awesome! Thank you for creating this spectacular event, and for being our amazing sponsors. We are truly honored to represent GFNY. Thank you, thank you, thank you!