In the annals of bad ideas, bike racing to the average person is probably reasonably high up the list. Bike racing at 6am on a saturday morning is slightly higher up that list, especially when you could be safely tucked up in bed. And then there’s bike racing at 6am on a Saturday morning whilst throwing in a suicidal attack or three. But then no one would ever describe us as “average”. No. “Insane”, “stupid”, “foolish” all spring to mind, but not normal. So, we figured that the day would be a good day to live up to these monikers.
We were back at one of our favorite race venues – Prospect Park – and, with a strong team turnout in the cat 5 field, with Mike back racing after his injury break, Ethan fresh off his top 20 placing last week, and myself. Kissena was the only other team with numbers, but even then there was only a pair of them. But, well, cat 5 races aren’t really about team tactics, so it was going to be the usual free-for-all out on the course.
Lap 1 passed without much ado. In fact, it felt positively pedestrian. Unlike last week’s 226w first lap, today’s was a snoozer at 198w average, a full 30 seconds slower than last week’s 8:30 opening punch. After Ethan took a pull early on, no one else seemed to want to work, despite the impending threat of rain, and, oh, being in a bike race, so as we passed the start line on lap 2 I decided that it might be time to have some fun. With Ethan sitting comfortably in third wheel, I cruised up to Mike around 10th wheel back to have a chat.
“How are you feeling, buddy”?
“Pretty good. This seems ok so far”
“Yeah, it’s a little slower than last week. I might have some fun”
“Go on, you should”
That was all I needed to hear. Quick check over my shoulder then… slid left, lit up the afterburners, hit 700W for a few seconds, then got down into the drops to hold 400w for as long as I could. Bye, bye peloton and your pedestrian ways! Except, oh, yeah, we’re cat 5 racers, and I had two on my tail before I knew it. Checking over my shoulder, I could see that the peloton had finally woken up and decided that they weren’t letting us go, so after 30 seconds of attacking, I gamely sat up to use the next mile to bring my heart rate back down from 183, before we hit the hill. As I slid back through the pack, one of my companions said “about time someone made it fun. Thanks”. That felt good, although my breathing didn’t.
Alas, my brief attack was all that happened for the remainder of the lap, and half of the next one. Which was fine for my recovering lungs, but not fine for an actual bike race. So, half way in, Mike tried the same, followed by one of the Kissena team… although he didn’t quite follow my advice of “do it before the downhill”, and tried to break away just before the uphill. Suffice to say that his attack didn’t last long.
Lap 4 was another snoozer, with just one unattached rider trying to inject some pace. And then the final lap. As we entered the backside of the course, someone from the back yelled “are we racing bikes”? Alas, it seemed like we weren’t, so a couple of hundred yards later, Mike and I stuck our heads together to work out a plan.
“This one’s going to a sprint, isn’t it”.
“Yeah, quite boring really. Can’t win the sprint, so I’m gonna sit up if it gets to that”, I replied.
That’s when I saw the cheeky look in Mike’s eye…
“Wanna have some fun then”
“Yeah, why not”!
Before I knew it, Mike was out of the saddle and pumping 1,000+ watts as a gap in the peloton opened up in front of us. And I figured “let’s make this a two man team break for fun”. So after Mike’s launch, I took point and a long 20 second pull at 500W or so, to try to create some distance. Alas, the peloton sensed instant danger, and didn’t hang around too long, but we had a gap, and we weren’t going to give it up without a fight. Mike came round to take another looong pull at 400W, whilst I tried to suck in as much oxygen as I could from the tri-state area, and assess our chances. We were still in front, the peloton had gone from a wide bunch to a long line, and we still had a few bike lengths. But, I could sense that they were closing fast, and that we weren’t going to stay away. Oh, and yeah, we were at the point where the hill became noticeable. So, after a full minute on the attack, we gamely sat up and were quickly swallowed by the peloton. And as they swept by us, I saw the damage we’d done. Sweat was pouring off foreheads, breathing rates had doubled, and more than a few were slightly cross-eyed with the effort of having to chase us down. There was no “nice job” as we slid backwards, just that look of “WTF guys… you two just turned things up to 11. Why the fuck did you do that to us just before the fucking hill you fucking sadists”!
That was all I needed for my win of the day. We’d animated the race not once, but four times. Pain had been inflicted, we’d made the sprint harder, and we’d made sure that Ethan didn’t have to chase at all. Coming into the finish line, Ethan sprinted to his first top-10 in 9th place, and Mike and I held on for a pack finish. Job done! And, another cat 5 season goal achieved: “animate the race and make it harder”.
- Max heart rate: 184bpm. That’s a new high for me!
- Max 5-second power: 803W
- Max 30-second power: 512W
- Number of times pain inflicted by GFNY Racing Team: four
- Number of times pain inflicted by other teams and racers: two.