So I know it has been a while. I feel like I have been really busy and always tired when I had time to write. There has been a lot since the Great Egyptian Omnium.
First was my team gymnastics camp. Every year I host a camp at my gym. Since I have started it is really only my team kids that come, but maybe some day other kids will want to come too. So what I do is a hire visiting coaches to come in, work with the kids, and have a lot of fun. I have had college coaches, college gymnasts, and this year I brought in a Men's national team member, and a team member of the U of I men's gymnastics team. Now I do only coach girls, but these guys are great gymnasts and the way men's gymnastics works, most guys can coach pretty well. Paul Ruggeri and Vincent Smurro came down from the U of I and we all had a great time with them. They guys were really nice and helped the girls a lot. I tried to take them out and show them how great St Louis is and they seemed to really like it. Every year I am a bit nervous that camp wont be fun enough, but I am always pleasantly surprised that the kids love it.
After camp my bike racing team was hosting our first ever critirium in Maplewood, MO. We had been mulling over putting this race on for months, but as none of us really knew what we were doing there was not a lot of discussion until a couple weeks before the event. This made those few weeks after the great Egyptian even more stressful for me. The city of Maplewood was really very helpful and went out of their way to help. There was a point when I thought we weren't going to be able to pull things off and they talked me back into it. The race was supposed to take place in downtown Maplewood to help showcase their great town. Our first set back was the streets, which were in great need of repair were going to be repaired and it would run into our event. Our next location looked very fun but when we realized it wasn't going to work the city planners pointed out an industrial park and sent me to look. Know I now what you are thinking, borring! But this is the nicest industrial park I had ever seen. The race would go past two round-abouts through a parking lot that twisted and turned, down a wide false flat uphill neighborhood street, out onto Big Bend and back to the start. It was a HUGE success and the whole St Louis cycling community really enjoyed it. We only charged $20 for the first race and $10 for every extra race, so it was cheap! Our payout wasn't great, but the goal was to have great racing for a low price, and we accomplished that. We had a few heats with over 45 riders and that is a good number in my opinion for a race that wasn't for sure up until a week to go, almost no payout, and was local. Not that our local scene isn't amazing, it just seems like more local riders could show up to other races to help support these events. It was great to see everyone out at our event and I am so pumped to do it again next year.
The icing on the cake was I won my own race! I didn't think I would get a chance to race but I made it in, and things just worked out great. My team worked awesome and put me on the front for a great sprint. I had a grin from ear to ear!
The next week we had the MO state TT and crit championships. I had wanted to do the TT all year as I would like to get a bit better at it, and if I am ever in the hunt for MOBRA (our local race series) I will need to do well in TT's. The number one reason to go however was to get my friend and teammate Chris Connolly to go. Chris is one of the biggest diesel engines I have ever ridden with. We do have a few guys in our area that are faster than him right now, but they had better watch out. I have never done a 40k TT and I did pretty bad. But Chris won and had the 5th fastest time in the STATE out of all categories! This was on a borrowed bike, and a dude that road it maybe 5 or 6 times. Guess who needs to get a new bike?
After that win I was ready for some more QMC victories at state. Our first crit win for QMC came from Julianna Crang in the Juniors race. After that the biggest number of our team to ever race together lined up for the 30+/35+ masters race. Our rider was Bj and the plan we to get him away in a break. It took quite a while before we were able to get the field wore out enough to get it done. But Mark put in a dig and got a pretty good gap off the front. He was the first Quantum rider to get off the front without anyone going after him. I wondered at the time if it was because they knew he was not from Illinois. Mark is pretty well know so that was my assumption. After a couple laps though Bj made a big dig and made it up to Mark without anyone else on his wheel. That was all she wrote for the 30+ race. We shut the race down big time with 6 of us riding 3 wide at the front of the race at close to parade speed. With a couple laps to go we started trying to get Eric lined up for a possible 35+ win. Eric was in a great position but with all the work he had done earlier in the day he wasn't able to match the sprint of a couple other guys in the race.
We were super pumped about Bj's win we were equally excited about racing for Eric in the 3s race. The race was a little better populated than the master's race was, but we still had the biggest team in the field and we felt we could dictate what was going to happen. There were a few riders we were looking out for and had a plan to try and put them into the pain box. The cat 3 field in MO is on the rise though and many riders were ready for the punishment we dished out to the field. Every time one of our riders hit the field with an attack we were marked by a number of riders all hoping to get away with them. I made a mistake at one point trying to bridge to a break that looked good to help one of my teammates. I thought I made a very big hard jump and no one was going to be on my wheel but I was wrong and had brought 2 Mercy riders. This in turn caused the rest of the field to jump and the good looking break was brought back. With only a few laps to go I was hurting bad. I had done a lot of work in the previous race and this one. So when a strong Big Shark rider made a big attack with only a few laps to go I dug down for whatever matches I had left and buried myself. I wasn't able to finish with my teammates but they kept Eric in position and gave him a great shot at the win. Unfortunately Eric wasn't the best sprinter in the bunch sprint and couldn't hold of futur QMC rider Luke Bligh.
This last weekend was one of the biggest payout races in the area at the Edwardsville Rotary Criterium. The total payout was $10,000 with a big party happening around the race, as well as taking place at night. The course was short with 7 turns. Twice on the course the road narrows down to one lane and there is a very fast technical chicane you must navigate. Our race went off at 8:15pm, the latest race I had ever taken part in. I really liked the course and was pretty pumped to put our team plan into effect and see what happens. Less than one minute into the race I crashed washing out in the first half of the chicane. Luckily I didn't take anyone else down with me, and other than a hole in my skin suit, torn grips, and a dropped chain, everything was ok. I pulled myself together and headed back to the pit. I made it there as the pack was going through the start finish so I waited for them to come by again.
Once back in the race I started to get to work with the rest of my team. The first part of the plan was to keep the speed high and get rid of anyone not strong enough to really be there. We kept taking turns jumping off the front or pulling stretching the field out. Twice I went for preems in the race but was beaten by Korte Hammer Down's Sam Moore. He has really been getting stronger over the last few weeks and we will have to keep an eye on him for Gateway. We all tried to keep in touch with each other as we road as we tried to get organized for the finish. With something like 9 laps to go Finkszilla got on the front and started hammering. He lead the race for what seemed like 4 or 5 laps and when he finally looked like he was starting to get tired I pulled around him to try and keep the pace hot. I tried to keep it smooth through the technical parts of the course and fast everywhere else. With 2 laps to go a strong Big Shark rider decided to start pulling. I was a little confused by this but that was fine with me. I hung to the back of the pack for the last 2 laps and just tried to see what was happening at the front. In the dark it was hard to see though. I didn't know till later that we had taken 1st, 2nd, 6th, 8th, 10th, and I took 20th, the last money spot! In all it was a great day and we all had a ton of fun. We didn't get it quite right with our plan but it is a weak spot that we know we have and we are going to work it out. I am so proud of the guys and the team. We are going to have a very strong team going into Gateway Cup and we will be looking for some good results.