Allamuchy and Sandy Hook

Michael submitted this report from racing on 4/16 and 4/17


Allamuchy/Sandy Hook… one weekend.

Just because everyone else was facing the same prospect did not make the
upcoming weekend any less daunting. Time trials on consecutive days what
was on order thanks to what was said to be a work project at one of the
sites on the originally scheduled date. April 16th and 17th was to be
the Allamuchy and Sandy Hook Time Trials, part of the New Jersey Time
Trial Cup Series. Logistically, although these two are some of the
closer events in this series, coming off the Island and through the City
to make it in time to warm up and all before the start would require
waking up at some ridiculous hour… to do this two days in a row was not

This Spring has up to this point has been anything but Spring-like, this
was all about to change. Forecast for the weekend called for temps in
the 60’s and more importantly… no rain. So, here it is 3:30 on Saturday
morning and I am all packed and ready to go once I secure the bike to
the roof of the car. I told you this was crazy early. One more check, I
am sure I’m forgetting something that I will regret later on, and we’re
off. Heading over to pick up my partner in crime for the weekend,
Christina of Live Love Velo, we finish packing the car (this is just an
overnighter, yet the car is somehow filled up pretty good) and we are
back on the road again.

First up is Allamuchy, New Jersey. One good thing about leaving at such
an early hour is that we had smooth sailing traffic-wise, save for the
double-decker car hauler in front of us missing that overpass by what
looked like a few inches at most, nearly gave me a heart attack. Rolling
into Evergreen Park at about 6:30, the sun was up and although there was
the promise of warmer temperatures, it was still downright cold. I like
this part of Jersey, it is farm county. Not too much traffic on the
roads and the views are pretty sweet too. This would be my third time at
this event, so I kind of knew what to expect and the sights are
familiar. This time trial includes one of my most favorite named roads
to race on… Shades Of Death. Of course there is much folklore regarding
that name, including but not limited to, a band of highwaymen who would
lay in wait for their victims to rob and then slit their throats
( But I digress, we
are racing today.

Last year we were first to pull in to the parking lot. This year by the
time we arrived the place was already getting busy and not long after we
were joined by Kate, another Live Love Velo team member. As I mentioned
it was still cold and there was a lot of back and forth as to how much
kit would be needed as we get ready to start the warm up ride. I chose
base layer and shorts. As we rolled out foregoing the legwarmers and
full gloves seemed like a big mistake but, the sun was still coming up
and temps were rising pretty quickly. 8:26 was start time. I pull up to
the start line with about 10 minutes to go, aside from the rest of the
race, this is the worst time… anticipation and anxiety all balled up in
a bunch. Nothing left to do but wait and say hello to a couple of
familiar faces.

“53”. My number is called as I roll up to the start line. As the bike is
held in place I make my attempts to click in. Somehow this is always a
difficult task when the pressure is on. Hands squeezing the brake levers
closed, watching the clock count down 20, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… it’s time
to go. Stomping on the right pedal as I let go of the brakes and I’m
off. Within a few moments I find the gearing I think I ought to be in
and sprint up to speed. Settling back on the saddle and finding the
proper cadence, I got this. Or at least all the nerves are gone as it is
now about putting power to the pedals and keeping your head down for the
next 7.5 miles.

This time trial will feature a few turns, a sharp u-turn and a bit of a
grade on the way back. Heading out I am feeling good. Temps are
comfortably cool and by the finish, will be mercifully cool. Winds are
calm, that is until we hit the first right hander. So, we got a headwind
impeding our progress. As it turns out, this year will be a bit windier.
Be that as it may, I soldier on, coming up on the 1 km to turnaround
sign. In previous years, they used the 0.5 km to turn around and I
remember thinking as I am riding, 0.5 is a long way. At this point I
have been passed by a fellow rider.

I finally complete the kilometer and get to the cone that we are
supposed to ‘round. Admittedly, I am not the best at sharp turns like
this, so I take this as wide as I can as I hear the marshals yelling out
that there are holes on the side of the road where I was headed…
wonderful. Crossing this long and sort of narrow hole in the asphalt, I
set on down the road again only to hear those same marshals calling out
that there is gravel just ahead. It’s like they were trying to make
this difficult. A little further up the road I managed to pass someone,
so I’m feeling good about that.

At this point I am hurting but, this sort of pain is sustainable as this
is what I have been training for. So it is on down the road a ways, a
right and then a left… now comes the grade. If I am not mistaken, this
kicks up to about 5%. Granted this is not much but at this point you are
feeling every up tick. I am approaching maximum heart rate, legs are
hurting but I am keeping with what I think is a sustainable pace.
Another left turn and I see flashing lights from an emergency service
vehicle in the distance, a police car? I don’t know, at this point
focusing becomes difficult but, in my mind the flashing lights represent
the end. Getting that surge that comes from the end being in sight I
pedal on. As I get closer, I realize, that is not the finish line. Ugh,
one more right and more flashing lights. This is the finish line ahead.
Forget about focusing, just seeing is becoming difficult. Surely I’m
going to blow up before the line. As I push on and the meters tick away,
it is all muscle memory at this point – kick and pull, kick and pull.

Finally I cross the line… cadence drops, speed all but evaporates, and
heart rate will come down in time. Nothing to do now but soft pedal as I
make it back to the car and await the results. As with all time trials,
you give what you got and then wonder how it all went when you are done.
As it stands, I am usually shooting to place somewhere in the top half.
This is a tough group, if I can get that, I have done well. In the end,
I finished 18th out of 31 entrants. Don’t think I left anything out
there so I’ll take that and be happy. My cohorts Christina and Kate both
made it to the podium… well done.

Packing up the bikes and the associated gear we say adios to Kate, for
now, and head out. After all this was only part one of a double-header
weekend. We make our way closer to our next destination but, not before
we stop off for a meal. Settling in to our hotel, we get cleaned up and
some rest. Out for one more bit of dinner, then it is out for the night…
it was a long day. The beauty of staying over is that we could sleep
late, as opposed to hitting the road at 5 am. Regardless we are up early
but, in no hurry to get going on the second day of racing. Eventually we
make our way to Fort Hancock in Sandy Hook, the site of the second
competition for the weekend.

I guess you would say this is on a peninsula, while not completely
surrounded by water, it is not wide either, so you are always riding
with water in sight. As such wind is always an issue. In fact last year
winds topped 30 mph, you needed to lean into the wind in order not to
get blown over. This year, this was not the case. Again the great
weather continued, temps were even warmer than yesterday with some light

Unlike Allamuchy, there was no warming up on the road this time, so out
came the trainers. After a half hour or so of spinning, it was time to
head to the start line. 9:11, it was once again time to go. Once I get
settled in and up to speed I realized what seemed like a light wind
turns ugly when you’re riding straight into it. Not as bad as last year
mind you, but, still something to contend with. The Sandy Hook TT is a
relatively straight course, out and back. For better or worse, I did not
come up on or get passed until almost the end of this one and the
turnaround was much friendlier than yesterdays. Don’t know how this
happens but, there was a headwind on the way back as well. I was hoping
for a push to the line… no such luck. About 3/4 of the way through I
start getting that familiar issue of not being able to focus, thinking
this is a good sign as I make for the final push for the finish. Making
it to the orange cones which force you into a single lane and to the
finish, finally I can ease up. Once again it is an easy spin back to the
car. Christina and Kate come in not long after and it was decided that
it was proper to remount the bikes on trainers and spin for a while. Not
what I was really wanting to do at this point but, we had to wait
anyway. Results finally came in, this time it was a 19th out of 28. Kate
and Christina podiumed again, just another day at the office.

Not long after we pack up, say goodbye to Kate, scarf down some leftover
pizza (racing does have its rewards), we are finally on our way home. It
was a long day, no, two days. Making good time until we hit the Belt
Parkway, Waze had us through Staten Island for some reason, there is
always trouble on the Belt. It was after 2 in the afternoon when we
reach Christina’s house. A long car ride after a time trial can be rough
on the legs, not being able to move much and all, but we are home. Tired
and hungry we unload the car, part one. Another goodbye and I am on my
way home. A few minutes later I finally pull into my driveway. Over the
next hour or so the car gets unloaded, the house becomes a mess and then
all is put back where it belongs. A quick shower and dinner, some pasta
was on order… quick and easy. The whole of the weekend sinks in, I am
wiped out. I settle in to watch that days Amstel Gold race and fade in
and out of consciousness, this will have to wait until another day.

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