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!

 

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