Wednesday, January 24, 2024

A Weekend in New York City

In 1968 I was 22 and lived and raced bikes in Toronto. We had a decent core of 30-40 riders mostly made up of European expats who'd turn out for races every couple of weeks.

Late that summer on a Saturday I drove to New York City for a race the following day put on by the German Bicycle Club of New York. It was about 105 miles around Central Park with a field of over 100.
A jersey with front pockets - don't see those any more!

The race started off at a decent pace with a few breaks that were brought back but my problem was that my front tire had started to roll off the rim after a couple of laps. I'd glued on my best Dunlop #3 tires but the front one had started to roll off the base tape not the rim. I knew that if I stopped to change the tire it would be tough to get back into the bunch so asked around and luckily found a rider whose girlfriend was by the course. He rode ahead of me to tell her and I got the front wheel off her bike - what a save - quick change and I was soon back in the peloton.

Most of the race, not having any team mates, I stayed close enough to the front so I wouldn't miss any serious breaks.

Eventually with a couple of laps to go two riders broke away, they took a good lead and looked strong. I asked around for help and went after them but no one came with me. I managed to catch them and knew that if we worked together we had the race sewn up. But they didn't see it that way and soon went out the back door. Someone said later they'd been intimidated by my Brit accent!

There I was alone for a couple of laps with about 13 miles to go so I just put my head down and time trialed to the finish praying I wouldn't get caught. I remember seeing the finish line, looking back and there was no one in sight and someone in the crowd said "he knows he's got it". I guess I was smiling. I'd been my club junior champion and had some success in previous races but this was the biggest race I'd ever win.

I won a beautiful German stein trophy which I still have, two pairs of tubular tires, a GBYC jersey and a $40 gift certificate for the local bike store.

Afterward, when I returned the borrowed wheel I gave the gift certificate to the couple who'd loaned me the wheel. Then I put my bike back on the Triumph Spitfire and drove back to Toronto.

My 1968 Racing License

Thinking about this has brought back memories. Two or three weeks before the race Mike Barry, a strong rider and Britannia C.C. team mate, had suggested we ride to Buffalo for a weekend to see some racing friends. It was over 100 miles each way and hard. I think now his plan may have been to make sure I'd be in good shape for the race. It's never occurred to me before, and I wish it wasn't too late to ask.