Man I am getting behind on these races. I happen to be under the weather right now so I have time to weave you a tale of pain, sacrifice, and glory though.
Glencoe IL hosted the IL state crit championships this year. It is an awesome course that weaves through a very nice neighborhood in the Norther suburb of Chicago. The roads are tight, but smooth, and with 9 turns this course was made for those with nerves of steel and bike handling skills to match. Mike, Mark, and I had raced this course last year and knew that the first rule of Glencoe is you don't talk about Glencoe.....no that's not it, it's that you have to be at the front. The yo-yo affect is crazy bad at this race with the hard turns, some at the bottom of a down hill section where you are carrying about 40 miles per hour. All of 708 was able to get a good spot on the line at the start and we were comfortably at the front right away. I was the first break of the day, not on purpose though, I just took the tight section with some speed and took a huge gap going into the small climb on the course. And what is becoming almost comical at this point I went through the KOM (really? on a crit?) and the called a preem. I have probably gone one 15 breaks this year and maybe one or two have not been right before a preem lap. Maybe I need to go for breaks after the start line so I know if we are going to have a preem or not. Ok so anyways, I decided I would hold this break and win the preem. With the technical aspect of the course I was able to use my pure turning skills and stayed away for what turned out to not even be a preem but just a race for some stupid points, DAMMIT! Right after the KOM a rider from Rhythm Racing bridged up to me and we went for another lap together and were caught. I really don't know why I was putting in another lap. I was there to work for Mark and try to get him the W. When I was caught I went to the back and let Mike, Mark, and Keith patrol the front of the pack and that is when a rider from xXx got away. This is a rider we were watching and I feel like if I had not put in a unnecessary effort I would have been up there and been able to do more sooner to keep that guy close or chase him down. Instead I made it back to the front of the race with xXx off the front, and chase group behind him and my team chasing them all. I was able to help Mark bring back the larger chase group between us and xXx but after that effort I needed a rest again and did not see that we didn't bring back the lead guy. That is the tough part about racing on a tight course, once a rider is out of sight a lot of times that means he is out of mind. Well once we realized there was a man 25 seconds up the road Keith and I went to the front and put everything we had into trying to bring it back. There were a couple Rhythm Racing guys trying to help and a couple individuals in there but they never tried to start working into a rotation so we were never able to get a good rhythm going and start bringing the leader back. With 3 laps to go the pack knew that we were racing for 2nd and I knew I still had a very hard job to do. We hoped we would have 3 men left at the end of the race to lead our top racer Mark out. The idea was that I would start the lead out going up the hill at the halfway point of the race and try to take it almost to the 90* left hand turn. Then Keith would take it from there around the next 90* right hand turn. Mike would take over after that and bring Mark to about 30 meters from the last 90* right hand turn. The last turn was very wide and you could really hold a lot of speed through it. That meant that you needed to be in first at that turn to win the race. We knew if Mark was leading he could hold off all comers. So it turned out I was the only rider left to help Mark. I let him know that I was right behind him and that I would get him to the last corner. We got split going into the hill when I went wide and Mark stayed on the inside. We both blasted up the hill on our respective sides and met near the front at the top. It was to our benefit that we didn't make it all the way to the front as we were able to get a draft from some other riders. We were also luck that Rhythm was trying to lead out there man too so I jumped in behind their lead man on the front and took his draft almost to the second to last right turn. I hit the front and put my head down and told myself to hurt bad and that it would be over soon. Halfway up the slightly uphill straight I stood on the pedals to pick up the speed some more and when I sat Mark took off like a rocket, leading the race all the way to the line for his second 2nd place for IL state races.
The next day was Webster groves just 5 min from my home in Clayton. It would be a great way to end my 9 days of racing and traveling around the Midwest. This race was going to be for Chris Connally but Chris came down with a pretty difficult illness and was unable to race. It was really cool of him to come and cheer us on even though he was still feeling pretty shitty. With Chris out we made new plans for the day with Keith and I going for breaks or on chasing duty and Mike, Mark, and Matt on preem duty. It was for sure the hottest day of all the racing I had done. For those who don't know you need to train in the heat to compete in the heat, or you need to be pretty fit. I'm thinking my fitness was doing ok because I was hurting really bad pretty early in this race from the heat but was able to recover quickly and stick with it. I tried a couple digs to get away in the race on my own and tried to go with a few other breaks. All that work plus the previous week we almost too much and there were a couple times I thought about calling it quits. Mike and Mark did a great job picking up two preems that I had no idea were even on offer. The announcer was not calling the preems for the whole field so many times people won preems they didn't even know they were racing for. Matt did a great job mixing it up in the race as well. For a guy that spends most of his time on the trails around the STL he really can put the hurt on the road. So with about 4 laps to go I found myself on Mark's wheel and started to feel a lot better. Mark kept us near the front and we were looking very good. The pace was staying high enough that not many guys were trying to move up. But then with two laps to go Mark went to the front to start a lead out with me trying to tell him not to go. At the end Mark said all hear heard was go.....ok so he did a great lead out but not long enough and when he pulled up the rider on his wheel from Dog Fish just sat up! WTF! He has riders on his own team lined up in front of my and behind and he just sits up? I really don't know what those guys think. So with this all going on I now have to be ready for the surge that will for sure be coming. With 3 turns to go it came and I had to use a match to stay near the front. I knew I had to not go too deep but if I dropped too far back it would be all over. There were now 7 riders in front of me instead of 3 and they all were very fast. Coming out of the final turn I hit the power as fast as I could passing on rider who had tried his bid for victory too early crossing the line 6th. I was moved to 5th after Luke from Dog Fish was DQ'd for a pretty shitty ruling IMO. I felt bad but I'll take the points and money. Sorry Luke.
Wow, that was just a ton of fun and I really can not wait till next year to do it all over again. Next up ToLawrence Street Sprints, Circuit, and Crit. Fun Funner Funnerest!!!!