With the dreary morning that plagued the CRCA Accelerade Club Series race in Central Park giving way to clear skies and sunshine several Team Sixcycle-RK&O riders headed to Piscataway, New Jersey for the Watermelon Criterium presented by Highland Park Hermes. Following a hard day of racing Team Sixcycle-RK&O’s Bryan Fried took sixth in the category 3 race and Michael Nelson walked away with second place in the category 4 race. In addition Sixcycle coached athlete Lisa Kennish of the Asphalt Green Cycling Team finished fourth (after racing in Central Park in the morning) following a long breakaway in the women’s category 4 field. Michael Nelson’s race report is included below.
Watermelon Crit Race Report from Team Sixcycle-RK&O’s Michael Nelson
Charlie Bird and I set out for the Watermelon Criterium under wet and grey skies Saturday morning. We targeted this race early in the week based on the success of team members in last year’s edition, and for the watermelons of course. I picked up Charlie in Manhattan and we rushed the roughly 60 minute drive to Piscataway, NJ (exit 10 off NY Turnpike). We strategically arrive at the race with 25 minutes to the start. Quick change and warm-up and we’re ready to race.
The course is roughly 0.7 miles long and has three corners. Corner 1 is a sweeping left hander, corner 2 is a rough, pot-holed, uneven left-hander that was surely going to have an impact, and the third corner was pretty straight forward leading to the start/finish. The marshall whistles the start and the pack heads off but i cannot get my cleat into the pedal! There goes the pack, and I am stumbling to even get started…
Finally i was able to kick out the chunk of muddy clay from my cleat and clicked in. Off I go, bad start, and worse that I have to play catch up. Worse still, Tristan and Michael Kuehn (CRCA/Siggi’s) are punching it and stringing out the field from the start. 40 minutes riding time, and I wanted to approach the race conservatively. So I have time to catch up, regroup, and pick my way to the front.
Each lap, I try different approaches and exits at the corners, paying particular attention to corner 2. This croner really disrupted the flow of the field. Midway through the race Alex Binkley (CRCA/Gennaro Restaurant Cycling Team) and I started a break attempt but it did not stick. There was a team with orange and blue kits that raced very hard, and chased every move.
When the race marhsall signaled 3 three laps to go, I focused on getting/maintaining a strong position 4th or 5th wheel. Near accident with 2 laps to go averted, I wanted this one. Last lap, corner 2, this is what I was waiting for. Alex and I are able to maintain speed through the corner, but the field has a harder time with it. We gain position on the field into the final corner. I wait on his wheel until the apex and then i come around the outside and drag race (not really sprint) to the finish. Holy smokes there is no one around me. So pumped, but I underestimate the finish and another rider nips me at the finish… No more gifts! 2nd place!
Watermelon Crit registration: https://www.bikereg.com/Net/16527
Watermelon Crit results: http://www.bikereg.com/Results/2012/06/02-Watermelon-Crit.asp