By David Wagener

If you missed the CRCA Christmas party, you’ll spend the next 12 months in social limbo. You also missed the presentation of 15 awards, all in the thinly-disguised form of fraternity drinking cups. Like we need more of those! In fact, and in history, the Christmas party is an opportunity to retell the year in racing. For years, the event was held in swanky midtown ballrooms, garb garnished, fare refined, prizes precious, speeches spacious, applause polite. How uptown! How 80’s!

With an edgier tattooed downtown dude and dudette racing population, we’ve appropriately migrated to MacDougal Street, where the celebratory libation of choice is a black and tan, the speeches drowned out by the cocktail waitresses, and dress-up is an old-school Hincapie racing jersey. Reflecting a record number of racers in 2006, some 150 thoroughbreds decided to forego a night of training on December 6 and grace Slane, a poor excuse for a restaurant and an outstanding one for tippling and talking. And for cheering this year’s Champions.

So we start with the women, and perhaps just stay there. They’re prettier, fitter and smell better. Did we say 15 awards? Sarah Sauvayre (Comedy Central) improbably piled-up four of them: Sportsmanship, Climbing, Rider of the Year and the Jim Boyd Cup. For the uninitiated, the Boyd Cup is awarded each year based upon individual point totals (9/6/4/3/2 format). Only Sarah garnered points in each of the seven women’s races, winning four of them, and never finishing lower than third. As dominant as Sarah was, her team was even more so, capturing the Women’s Team Cup with four out of five first place finishes. Comedy Central won it in 2005 as well, and vows to three peat in 2007. Hard to take issue with that promise, notwithstanding the vagaries of New York living, shifting sponsorships and contents of those Cups.

The men’s awards were slightly more contested. A 13 race Individual format CRCA Board shifting sponsorships and contents of those Cups (see picture).

The men’s awards were slightly more contested. A 13 race Individual format preordains the Champ as one with no injuries, no burn-out, and consistent focus. That’d be our boy, Club President, Rider of the Year, and Boyd Cup winner, Ken Harris (Merrill Lynch). Garnering points in seven races, and first or second in six of them, Ken reestablished the manly art of the breakaway. Pack sprinters need not apply here.

The Men’s Team Cup was the most contested prize. Merrill Lynch led until the very last of five team events, powered by the aforementioned Ken, Euri Madera (2006 Club Champion), Mike Sherry (ITT Champion) and Jon Orcutt ( 40+ ITT Champion). Sakonnet gamely won the season’s last points race, and finished the year in second (up from 11th in 2005), motored by relative newcomer David Wiswell and warhorse Stephan Badger. But Axis, last year’s second place finisher, won it all. No “I” in team, but John Loehner can ride the legs off most everyone in the Park. Throw in a Kevin Malloy, and bingo! You have your 2006 Men’s Team Cup Champion.

By the end of the night, and in the spirit of Greenwich Village inclusiveness, another seven Cups were passed around, giving most every team something to propel them into next year. NY Velocity won the B Field Men’s Cup, the redoubtable Jamie Nicholson (Deutsche Bank) the Women’s ITT, the eminent David Taylor (Blue Ribbon) 40+ Club Champ, still-alive Jeff Vogel (Setanta) and the author (CRCA) the 50+ Walker Awards, Chris Mecray (NY Velocity) the B Field Boyd Cup and Brad Kelley (CRCA) the C Field Boyd Cup. So 2006 is on the books. By the wee hours of December 7, the year in racing 2007 had started to take shape. Most of the patrons of Slane, by this time, were not bike racers. Undeterred, however, in vowing to crush the likes of Sarah and Ken the first time up the hill, on the first weekend in March, with a nasty sleet bouncing off a year of promise.

Happy Winter Training!

David Wagener