Life In The Gutter: Racing While Absent
The wonderful city of Arlington Heights, Illinois, played host to its second annual criterium on August 2nd, and again, the fine organization by town elders and the hard efforts of volunteers paid off and made for a fantastic race for both athletes and townsfolk alike. Next to the USPRO crit champs (2 weeks and counting!) this race has rocketed to second best in the midwest. Get this: free food and water for the riders, vendor tents with free samples, the unmitigated support of the town’s people who showed up in droves and cheered everyone and everything, and fantastic cooperation from the local police. Huh? Yup. Heaven.
The course, which zips through near downtown and through some residential streets, is by far the most technical of the midwest crit circuit. I forget how many 90 degree turns there were, I only knew that when you exited one, you had to line up for the next, making it very difficult to make advances without taking risks; and with only one straightaway where everyone made their moves, it became tougher still.
Having just come home from Ragbrai the week earlier, I had thought I had great legs. But while the legs were indeed good, the mindset was not that of a motivated athlete. Ragbrai (the details of which are primarily unprintable) has a habit of making you “devolve”, and while the 450 miles of mostly uphill riding would be good for anyone’s legs, they played into my mind like a Jamaican breeze, making me lazy and content.
I tried to ride hard once the race started, and I never was in danger of getting dropped, but I had to kick myself into gear to make an effort to help the team. So, after a few laps I took risks in the corners, avoided the crashes and the pedal skips, and lined up for a right gutter shot on the straightaway, and away I went. Zoooom……my computer reads 37.2mph, but I am passing people at a snails pace, as everyone else is pouring it on in the same stretch of road. I do get free, but it’s short lived as a powerful C-U rider reels me and sits on me.
Swinging right, I assume another place in the field, and punch tickets. I had to recover for about 4 laps, and then the primes started coming down like rain, the pace hotted up in a big, big way, and then the last laps came, I never saw the front of the field again. Our Project 5 boys had a great day, with three of them finishing in the money, and strong boy Jeremy adding a nice prime to his palmares as well. Good job done by all. They were quite motivated.
I was mentally absent, though physically able to make a minor appearance. Oh well, all that fanfare might have helped take away from my performance. Today, back to an industrial park with no shade, no fans, no distractions. More later!
Whay does Ragbrai make me want to have warm, cheap domestic beer as soon as I get on a bike? Hmmmm…maybe I WILL write that article.
Residence: Just outside Chicago, Illinois, USA
Category: USCF Road 4
Teams: Project 5 and Evil Cycling
Why I Love Cycling: “Nothing on the planet can hurt me more than my bike.”
Fave Cycling Moment: “Anytime I sit down and trance in front of ‘A Sunday In Hell'”.
Favorite rides: “Any criterium, anyplace, anytime, and of course, Ragbrai.”