Inflicting pain, just because we can

the team

Words: gavin

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”.

Vital sadistics:

  • 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.


The Killington Effect… aka “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

There comes a point in every race where you have two choices: apply more power, or head swiftly backwards and wave the peloton goodbye. Two weeks ago in Killington, I got to wave them goodbye not once, but twice. That’s stage racing for you! Today was my first race back, and unlike Killington with its endless hills, it was a flat, five-lap affair round Prospect Park. I was keen to see the gains I’d made in the run-up to GFNY and Killington, and this would be the first comparable race where I’d get to find out.

Continue reading “The Killington Effect… aka “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger””

Race Report: Gavin’s Perspective on the Killington Stage Race

by: Gavin Chow

“Oh… that hill. You know that’s not a hill, don’t you?”

Killington, Vermont, Memorial Day weekend, 2017: the GFNY Racing Team gathered at the charming Butternut Inn and Pancake House for our first foray into stage racing. Three days, 110 miles of racing over what the organizers described as “challenging” terrain. The seven-strong team was split between the Men’s 4/5 Open category and the Men’s 4/5 Masters category.  Juan “I’ve bought my standard” Sanchez, Ramon “Oh wait, I’ve been here before” Thompson, and Justin “what do you mean by ‘ride outdoors’?” Bangs represented the team in the Open category.

Continue reading “Race Report: Gavin’s Perspective on the Killington Stage Race”

When the GFNY Racing Team goes pro. For a day.

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. Continue reading “When the GFNY Racing Team goes pro. For a day.”

Lucarelli & Castaldi Cup Race #3 – April 9th 2017 Cat 5 Race Report

Words: Gavin Chow

Five things people don’t tell you about bike racing

So, race day #2 of the weekend dawned, well, early. And not so bright, seeing as my alarm woke me rather rudely at 4AM. On a Sunday. Of course, natural reaction was to roll-over and stick my head under the pillow, but that didn’t work, so then I decided it can’t be an imaginary alarm but a real one. Yep. Next step: open eyes. It seems to be the same open or closed – dark. Hmm… either I’ve lost my vision overnight, or, yegads, it’s still dark outside. Which leads us neatly to bike racing thing #1. It’s called “be glad you didn’t go out last night, because that 4AM alarm call is one hell of a rude awakening”.

Continue reading “Lucarelli & Castaldi Cup Race #3 – April 9th 2017 Cat 5 Race Report”

CRCA Race #2: “F!*& Y@#£”

Off the…?

words: Gavin Chow

F!*& Y@#£”.

Well, that about sums things up. But let’s rewind for a few hours. Because this day starts at 2:43 AM, when I roll over thinking “have I missed my alarm call? Did I sleep through it”?

“Nope. You have another two hours and two minutes to go before that goes off and you need to drag yourself out of bed. So go back to sleep”, said left-brain. At this point, right-brain had a fundamental disagreement, curtailing any chances of sleep. But, oh well, it’s race day, race #1 of the season for me, my first CRCA club race, a 5-lap affair of Central Park, and my first foray into the real world of bike racing. It’s going to be fun.

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Team Fitness testing – What you measure, you can improve.

Words – Gavin Chow

February 18th. Apparently the first day of spring, but Team GFNY-Racing chose to spend the day inside the Gavia Cycling Studio for the inaugural 2017 Team FTP test. Weather outside – a balmy 64 degrees. Inside started relatively cool, but by minute 10 the combined power had turned the room into a 90 degree sauna, with the temperature headed only one way.

Continue reading “Team Fitness testing – What you measure, you can improve.”