Monday, March 11, 2013

central park sunshine (in my soul today)

After botching race registration for Grant's Tomb Saturday (not-fit-to-live), I nearly botched the start of the Central Park race on Sunday.  First, in my late night stupor I miscalculated my DST-adjusted wake up time by an hour--meaning that I overcompensated an hour.  My alarm went off.  I got up.  Bumbled bleary-eyed into the bathroom and there, with the clarity that accompanies a morning bladder void, I realized I'd got up too early.  Reset the alarm and went back to bed. Except I couldn't really sleep, so after laying there for 30 minutes or so I just got up and just took off early.

Having a little extra cushion turned out to be a good thing, because I didn't account for trying to find a bathroom pre-race.  I thought that perhaps racing so early (6:45--effectively 5:45 were it not for DST) I would be able to escape the need for the ritualistic pre-race bowel movement.  I was wrong.  Parked on the Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, I began to kit up and noticed, with an interest that turned from mild to piqued to anxious to emergency-action-required, that I would not escape the need to void yesterday's falafel and Cheez-Itz before racing.  When my interest level was at the merely piqued-to-anxious level I considered the Central Park bathrooms (not ideal), the woods (I didn't bring any TP, and this was bound to be messy), or a Harlem McDonalds (I didn't bring a lock...and, you know, Harlem).  However, when my interest needle began to dip into the red, I just started the car and high-tailed it to a Fort Lewis Dunkin Donuts.

After all that I didn't get on the bridge until after 6:10.  Rolled up to registration at 6:40.  Signed my waiver at 6:41.  Had my number pinned and was lined up by 6:43.

You've heard me say it before, but I love racing in Central Park.  It's like the road was made specifically with bike racing in mind.  Two lanes in which to maneuver.  Smooth, winding roads.  A few little hills to keep things interesting.  And the sun coming up over the park, lighting the sides of the high-rise apartment buildings that circle it in that magical early morning glow.

The racing was good too.  I spent the day jumping in or initiating every break I could.  A few attempts seemed promising, but things ultimately kept together until about eight miles to go.  At that point the pack of probably 60+ riders sort of split, with 20-25 of us moving off the front.  Cooperation was awkward, but it was enough to maintain the gap.  Still unable to coax a small group off the front, I set up for the little uphill finish.  Positioned perfectly behind the one dude who had a lead-out man (and who eventually won) I loaded my gun and waited to fire...  But, of course, we can guess how that went.  Even with the perfect position my Cat 5 jump is like a pea-shooter to the more complete arsenal of my rivals.  I was easily out-classed and I probably rolled in like 15th or so.

But I tell you what, bike racing is fun.  The adventure of riding in and out of the city was fun.  Doing it alone was cool, but, you know, it would have been better with company.  Anyway, it was a delightful way to spend a Sunday morning.

Crossing the GWB.

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