What's Cool In Road Cycling

The Lord’s Water Fight At Illinois State Champs

Today we welcome a new addition to our highly respected Life In The Gutter Bureau – Dave Aldersebaes. Dave joins us from the midwest – Chicago to be exact, and promises to enlighten us with that slice of racing life called “Cat. 4”. Come on – we’ve all been there – and at the end of the day, regardless of how fit, fast, or highly paid you are, we still end up in the same Gutter. Dave raced the State Road Race Championships last weekend…

Our story begins…
So when it comes time for the category urchins to line up to contest the Illinois State Road Race Championships, you just know I was going to be there! With aspirations to win? Naw, more like just hopes to finish. Like most, down here in the cellar of competitive cycling, I have a real job and limited hours with which to train. But for what I lack in training, I try to make up for in heart and guts. I knew I’d need both to show up in good numbers and on time this past Sunday down in Cedar Point.

The course was typical for mid-Illinois, as was the field. Most of the major Chicago teams were present, as well as most of the university teams, making a field of about 60. There would have been more, but I have up until now failed to mention the conditions: ghastly. Yes, ghastly. 25+mph winds, and absolute pissing down rain. The worst I have ever seen in my 2 years of racing. Granted, I got caught in the fringes of a tornado a few weeks ago while training, causing me to abandon and seek shelter in a ditch like a shivering child, but this was the worst race weather I have ever seen. God himself was having a water balloon fight, and we were the targets. “I see you, whelps! Yes, yes, you can’t hide on that giant climb I put there a gazillion years ago just for this moment!” whap! whap! whap! The rain pelted the pavement like bullets, each with a loud sound upon contact with mother earth. The spittle kicked up by the riders ahead of me had me blind inside of 50 meters. I was contemplating the possiblity of Rain-X working on my glasses, for I could see nothing. Not even my own handlebars. My usually sharp field of vision had been reduced to a scene conjuring the mating of Pable Picasso and a good hit of acid: colors and shapes, no lines, no form. Just blurs and noise. Lots of “watch it’s” and “hey’s”.

The first major climb, a grinding 400 meter crawl at a who-knows-what kind of gradient, did the initial damage, putting me back about 20 riders, in what eventually formed and stayed as the third chase group. I had read an article earlier in the week touting the value of riding within yourself on the big climbs, and catching back up to those in front when the road levels. I’d like to write that guy’s editor and ask for his immediate removal, because his advice didn’t work. Well, I guess I have myself and my genes to blame for that. While I watched the little light guys bounding ahead of me, I was slogging my 6’5″, 185lb frame up as best I could. Damn genes. On the flats, in my group, I did a lot of the yeomans work, with my buddy Lance from the Hinckley team, and in the end, won the sprint for our group, taking (I think) 23rd or so out of 56 that took the line, but by then all was lost, we were a solid two minutes behind the leaders. The wind had beaten us like red headed step children, my captain had popped a spoke, we had only one guy in the front group, (way to go Matt, 14th rocks) and the rest of my team was strewn about the roads, one in every group.

I’d like to thank Mother Nature for the ass whipping of a lifetime, and for drenching me and my bike (which needed a bath anyway). She halted the show on the last descent of the day, curling open a patch of clouds and bathing us, albeit momentarily, in bright sunlight. Her sense of humor is sicker than mine, I do believe.

About Dave:
DOB: 6/5/71
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.”

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