Thursday, July 5, 2012

ToAD Schlitz Park Milwaukee WI

Schlitz park is located on the northern park of Milwaukee just south of Brewer's hill. The area is a mix of old and new as it was once the location of the Schlitz brewing company, and is now owned by a group who develops and manages the property. It has an amazing view of downtown and there are some really nice new homes mixed in with some great historic buildings.

The course is less than one mile with a steep climb every lap and a steep technical downhill to follow. The uphill section is two blocks long with the first block being the steeper section at 9 percent. The downhill section was just a bit tricky with the first left turn of course having a manhole cover in the middle of the turn as well as some choppy pavement. After that was a quick right hand turn that continued sweeping right and then a chicane of left than right, also horrible pavement, into a short 150 meter sprint to the line. The line was also only about 200 meters from the right hand turn to the uphill.

I started at the front again for this race as I knew the hill would hurt those too far back, and the downhill section would create gaps that would have to be crossed if too far back. The first time up the hill was the only time I used my small chain ring in the race. After that we were sprinting up the climb in the big ring every time. Most of the time up the hill I made sure I wasn't following anyone to make sure I didn't get stuck behind a slow rider. This also allowed me to move up in the pack at first and then sag back into a good spot on the second half of the climb.

The hill was of course the spot most of the attacks came. I think I made it easier on myself accelerating early on the hill so that I was already at a good speed when the group began chasing. I never had enough power to go with any of the attacks and was always happy to be able to hang with the group. I was mostly lucky that not much ever happened at the top of the course this year. It allowed me to get my heart rate down, sometimes move up to a better postion, and get ready for the downhill section. The downhill was where I was able to make some good passes. I am a small guy and corner very well. I know I scare some people with how I can turn, but this is just a tool in my bag that not many other people have. The best place to make up some spots was going around the long right hand turn going into the chicane before the start finish line. Most guys didn't take good lines thought the first part of the turn and then began setting up for the chicane far too early. This made it easy on most laps to pick up some spots.

With somewhere around 15 laps to go the big attack happened and we were full gas, times 10, for 3 or 4 laps and I was barely hanging on for dear life. A couple times up the hill I didn't know if I would be able hang on and once I had to use the downhill section to get back in contact. That last time when I needed the downhill the break was caught and we slowed to a more manageable speed for me. For a few laps however I was on the back of the pack, now down to maybe 20 guys.

I was getting ready for the last lap now. I knew it was going to be a huge dig up the hill and those who survived would get a chance to sprint for the finish. As we turned into the hill I hit the gas, pedal to the medal, and was able to hold my position. As we hit the second part of the climb I sagged a lot however and had to sprint again to hold the tail of the pack. I am sure most of the guys were tired at this point so we slowed a bit on top and I was able to recover, and as we hit the downhill section I was feeling stronger again. Everyone was taking to corners pretty fast now so there was no way to move up until we exited the chicane and I hit the afterburners only making up one spot though. It was still a good result for me. 17th overall and 2nd out of the cat 3s. I was really happy with the sprint too hitting around 37 miles per hour after such a hard race.

Going into the next day I was pretty pumped and feeling strong. Turns out it sucked! I crashed 3 miles into a 50 mile road race and that was it for me, day over, nothing to see here, move on. O well, that is racing.

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