Archive for May, 2016

Campagnolo GFNY 2016 Race Report

dDespite being 5:30 AM, it wasn’t as cold as I’d expected on the lower level of the George Washington Bridge. The weather forecast called for a chilly day so I expected the bridge to be windy and cold; but with the breeze in check, the line up for the 7:00 AM start wasn’t too bad at all. Would this be a good omen of the day to come?

I had made it clear in my last post that I was on a mission with a goal time of 6:30. In my three years prior I came in at 7:12, 7:07 and 6:44 – a nicely positive trend. And my training this season was solid, so I felt that improving my time yet again was quite attainable.

From the starting line to the base of Baby Bear, I executed my plan perfectly. I moved from group to group, taking advantage of speedy pace lines where I’d otherwise have had to work much harder. And, unlike last year, in one of the naturally windiest spots through the Haverstraw waterfront, I remained well protected that entire time. I took it easy over Baby Bear (as always) and made it to the base of Bear Mountain at my target pace. I then ascended Bear Mountain comfortably and reached the summit at nearly the same time as I did last year. Since I took a long stop there last year and moved on quickly this year, I felt I’d gain about ten minutes there alone.

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I even had time on the ascent to “strike a pose” for the camera!

I then descended Bear Mountain in what I’d later learn was my best time ever, saving about two minutes there alone. And by the time I reached Mott Farm Road, I was ten minutes ahead of my previous pace, so right on target for this year’s goal. Mott Farm is a tough few miles, but it went smoothly and I was soon beginning my ascent of Gate Hill Road (Andrea Pinarello Climb) around mile 60. Despite most riders’ hatred of this climb, it’s my personal favorite. The undulations and steep pitches allow me to hammer each one and then get a (very) brief recovery before the next one.

However, today would not be a good day for me on Gate Hill. I ascended in about the time I needed, but it started to rain on my climb. Thinking it would pass, and not wanting to stop to put on my vest, I rode through. This would turn out to be my biggest tactical error for the day! The rain didn’t let up until I was at the top of Gate Hill, and while it wasn’t a hard rain, it was enough to soak my arm warmers and much of my body. The Willow Grove descent from Gate Hill is well paved, has practically no turns, and I had no riders nearby to contend with, so I attacked the descent and got another PR. (Unlike Bear, though, saving time on Willow Grove is a matter or seconds, not minutes.)

My pace was terrific! But I just paid a dear price flying down Gate Hill – I was shivering. I was without knee warmers and suddenly my knees were struggling with the cold. Next up was Overlook (Cheesecote) and I thought I’d warm up on the climb. Instead, the skies remained dark, the winds picked up, and my body was betraying me. I spent that entire climb on the verge of leg cramps and lost a lot of time there. Plus, I couldn’t attack the descent – it was just too cold.

sportograf-77466571From there to the aid station in West Nyack, I struggled. These fifteen miles really did me in and even though I took only a brief stop at the aid station, the distance remaining (20-miles) and time to make my goal (1-hour) were too much to overcome. I could do a one hour sprint on flats at 20-mph, but there were two more climbs (State Line and Dyckman) plus plenty of small rollers in the way.

I did make up some time during the final stretch, and I, again, attacked Dyckman setting up a half mile sprint to the finish. But, alas, when I crossed the line at 7:07, it was not the race day I was hoping. I still had a great time and I learned a lot about dealing with the conditions. A handful of my friends crushed their goals, and another handful were in my court – beaten by the conditions. It’s interesting to see who wins and who loses when factors beyond your control take over.

Campagnolo GFNY #4 (for me) is in the books. I love the challenge each year and I’ll certainly try again next year to race against myself and get a new best time. In the meantime, I’ve got lots of shorter races with Team CRCA/GFNY and I’ve got a trip to France in six week to tackle the Bald Mountain at GFNY Ventoux! In cycling, there’s always another opportunity; and another challenge to look forward to after each race ends.

See you on the roads!

 

What to Expect on May 15th

shields_multiple_PRINTTo all of you that participated in the Gruppo Sportivo training rides on Sundays from December through May…

First and foremost – you are ready!

Along with my teammates Omar, Vito, Frank and Ramon, I’ve watched a group of inspired riders take on the cold of winter, the climbs of the course and the typical trials and tribulations of cycling like flats and other mechanicals – and you’ve all come out ahead. The “B” group riders started strong and got stronger; many of you pushed me quite a bit this season. The “C” group riders went from “can I really do this?” to “bring it on!” in a few short months. And many “C” riders have switched from the Bear 50 to the full 100-mile sportive. I cannot think of any riders I’ve seen this season that can’t take on that challenge! While anything can happen on race day to interfere and ultimately sabotage completing the race, your fitness level and mental commitment can be counted on to perform for you on May 15th.

A few quick tips…

If this is a new challenge to you – first century, first Campagnolo GFNY, etc. – here are a few simple tips:

  1. BE CONFIDENT. This is far and away the most important advice. So much of endurance cycling is about your mental well-being and sometimes just convincing yourself you can accomplish a goal can get you there.
  2. DON’T OVER-TRAIN. If you’ve been training till now, you no longer need to “go hard” and it’s time to relax a little. Over these final two weeks, you should definitely ride, but don’t look for hill repeats or lots of extra miles. Just ride to stay fit and in your zone. Be comfortable. Enjoy the time on the bike.
  3. PLAN AHEAD. Everyone is different, but many of us have rituals before big races that require some planning. Be sure your bike is ready – for me that means new tires and new brake pads this week so I can do a few rides but have fresh gear for race day. That also means that I have already bought the tires and brakes – now I just have to install them.
  4. WEEKEND RITUALS. Again, is there a way you like to ease into a big race weekend? I take Friday off work for the Expo, relax on Saturday and, obviously, race on Sunday. But I also make sure I have my ritualistic ground chicken and pasta on Saturday, bagels both mornings and a few bananas.
  5. SLEEP. This one is easier said than done. I always nap on Saturday afternoon knowing that sleeping Saturday night is difficult. For many of us there’s a wake up time around 3 AM and we’re full of pre-race energy, so a full night sleep isn’t likely. Napping can help supplement that and sleep is KEY – so do what you can.
  6. ENJOY THE RACE! Whether you are racing at the front, trying to beat your own time, or just riding to finish – ENJOY IT! You’ve worked hard to get here and race day is an amazing day. Crowds, scenery, weather and attitude all play into a memorable event.

If you see me on the course…

OK – this is a tough one, but I have to be honest here. Sunday’s for the last six months have been all about YOU! Whether I was leading the B group and had to push myself to set the right pace or sweeping the C group taking it “easy” and focusing on coaching, each of those training rides was to get you ready for May 15th. My training took place the other six days each week.

On May 15th, that Sunday is all about ME! There, I said it. I’m not being a d!ck – I love riding with all of you. But on race day, I have a personal goal and to achieve it I need to remain focused and “do my own thing.” I may ride with some of you along the way and we may share conversation at an aid station as well. But if I seem rushed, impatient or inadvertently ignore you, please don’t take it personally. I probably won’t be rude, but I know that when I’m focused, I can really have tunnel vision. Last year someone was talking to me at the top of Bear Mountain and I completely ignored them. It wasn’t on purpose and, thankfully, they found it pretty funny when they saw me at the finish and I had no recollection of seeing them on Bear!

So, Jared, what’s YOUR goal?

I debated whether to include this but decided that putting a goal out there makes it that much more real and forces me to own up to it whether I make my goal or not. Here are my previous times:

  • 2013 – 7:12
  • 2014 – 7:07
  • 2015 – 6:44

My goal this year is 6:30. Six hours and thirty minutes. Including stops. I rode a solid ride in 2015 with no major issues and a strong finish. To take roughly 15-minutes more off that time, I need to do better than a “solid” ride – I need to ride hard. And I need to shorten my stops. My time gains won’t come on the climbs – I just haven’t improved that much in climbing. But if I can retain the energy to ride hard on the flats and rollers, and take shorter stops (especially on Bear!) I can make up that time. Last year I rode “OK” from Ramapo to River Road and then turned it up. This year I need to dial it up from Ramapo right through Dyckman Hill and into the finish.

What’s the bottom line?

I’m racing on May 15th. Granted, I’m racing myself, but unless you are one of the top few dozen riders, that’s what most of us are doing. Am I ready to meet my goal? I think so! And if I don’t? I’ll try again next year. No matter what, I’m out there to ride and have a great time doing it. And to share a few smiles and stories with all of you at the finish line. So, see you there!