Team CRCA/GFNY Inaugural Race!

2016-03-05 Inaugural Team Photo

The inaugural race for Team CRCA/GFNY took place on March 5, 2016. Wait, what? GFNY has a race team?!? Oh, right, I guess I should start there…

As the 2015 cycling season wound down, we quietly put together a GFNY sponsored race team. While I am the Team Manager and somewhat responsible for this group, it was the work of many that came before me that helped make this a success. For the 2016 season, we’ve got ten racers, all in Cat5, with the expectation that we’ll end the season in Cat4. And perhaps a few wins as well.

March 5th was unseasonably cold, but not nearly as bad as all of March (and some of April) in 2015. Our first race was about 28F and, somehow, we’re all smiling (yes, that’s a smile in Peter’s world) in this pre-race photo. We tried to talk strategy, but, honestly, we were all just happy to be on a team for the first time. Most, if not all, of us raced CRCA previously, but only as an individual and being on a team completely changes the dynamic.

12794932_10156557863430570_7344211498418039489_oSo as we prepared for the starter’s whistle, we reminded ourselves that this was a race to get acclimated, understand the field, learn about each other and, above all, remain upright! (Because, well, Cat5 is also know as Crash5.) In this regard, we were 100% successful. And we learned quite a lot from this race, too. Stan sent a summary to the team that was incredibly observant and useful to everyone. And even with all of Stan’s detail, there’s still so much to cover and so much more to plan. I guess I forgot what it’s like to be on a competitive sports team, but I’m looking forward to that experience again!

CRCA posted this photo of our field, I think just after the start. It definitely captures the moment, but there’s so much missing context as well. Like the painfully cold ride to the start, the peacefulness of a pre-race lap in the park under the moonlight and the anxiety of a “first race”. Yet, somehow, when that whistle blows and the pedals are turning, it’s suddenly all about the race and everything else just falls away.

While Cat5 races aren’t terribly predictable, this one was and mostly due to its unpredictability. Stan got bumped by a rider that changed his line to pass without looking. The first lap was too fast and the pace didn’t hold. Riders didn’t get on a wheel and took their own lines. An attack went off way too early and was reeled back in. And, sadly, there was a 4-man crash in the last 500m.

0305160833Yet we remained upright, safe and strong – and all finished the day feeling that we were way better for the experience. I personally was off the back after only one lap; I didn’t expect to finish with the field, but one lap was pretty fast for me to drop. I spent the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday laid up with a stomach bug, so perhaps I was already weak. No matter, my personal goals are simply to improve. And my team goals are to help in any way I can. If I’m strong enough, I should be a good lead out man, and I’d gladly sacrifice myself for the climber or sprinter that can take it at the finish.

The bottom line is that we had a great time, which has to be the first reason you race. If you race primarily to win, you’ll be primarily disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, you must be competitive, but there’s a balance. Like any sport, if the competition replaces the fun, you’re doing it wrong. And, really, look at that post-race photo? Those are some seriously happy cyclists!

My Strava of the race is below (not as telling as those that remained in the pack) and video footage of the first nine minutes while I was near the front and leading our team out.

Last but definitely not least…

HUGE THANKS to Uli and Lidia for making this possible! GFNY is a terrific organization and we’re so happy to be both part of the family and representing an entirely new chapter in the GFNY story.


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