By Karen Ulrich
On a crisp morning, the 23rd of June, teams Comedy Central/Sid’s and Radical Media hosted the women’s race clinic in Central Park. Unlike last year, when torrential rains brought ten new riders to the line, this year’s event saw twenty-four women eager to give our sport a try.
After numbers were pinned and everyone had signed in, Kelleigh Dulany gave a pre-race talk, explaining the three-lap simulated race that would be neutralized until the first ascent up Harlem Hill. Including tips on how to work together, ride a wheel and draft, descend in the drops, and how to position oneself for the primes and final sprint, Dulany then fielded questions and led the ladies to the line. Following the C-field, the clinic began, interspersed with members from Comedy Central, Radical Media, and Third Nature, who helped coach the riders as they raced along.
Once let go, we expected the field to shatter as it had in previous years, but this group was steady and strong. Even when the pace was high, the pack stayed intact. Strung out at times, everyone managed to hold on, as a few riders, including Colleen Conway of Organic Athlete, who took the second prime, and Kathleen Rucker, helped set the pace. The eventual winner, Debra Killmon, won the first prime at the Met finish. On our final lap, a most unfortunate accident occurred. With dogs now allowed off the leash anywhere in the park before nine, one doggie with an unleashed owner ran into the park drive, taking Caryl Gale down. Flying over the bars and hound, she landed hard, suffering a broken shoulder, and waited for the ambulance to come.
Only a crash could split this field, and crack it did. Those who hadn’t witnessed the accident kept on (“Don’t look back, no matter how terrible the sound!”), while those in its proximity slowed down and got left behind. Getting dropped however, didn’t mean giving up. We tried to bridge a few riders back on, and there were some who needed no help at all.
One rider, on a beat-up down tube shifter with toe clips instead of cleats, rode her way back into the group and stayed on. With fifteen riders now heading into the finishing strip, the pack got strung out around H.S. Alley, until Killmon accelerated up Cat’s Paw and gapped the group along with Rucker, who took second.
Not far behind, Beth Lorell of Avenue A/ Razorfish sprinted across the line, finishing third. When the race was over we learned that Killmon had actually raced with us back in March, when there was a field crash that took many riders down. Carried away in an ambulance, she suffered a broken wrist and clavicle that day, but fortunately for us, healed quick enough to make it back for a second go around. We hope she, and the others, plan on joining us again soon. With a nice prize list and goodie bags for all, we’d like to thank our sponsors for all they shared. A bike fit by Mike Sherry went to the winner, while Rucker won a saddle from San Marco, and Lorell, a bike tune-up from A-Bikes. Piermont Bikes donated bottles and bags, and all riders received products by Hammer Nutrition and Nuun. To all the women who rolled out of bed in the dark, we say thank you for making our clinic a success. There’s a lot of promising talent out there, and we hope they keep racing and come back soon.