The night before Wood Dale, Katie and I were with a good friend of ours who is going off to basic training in a few weeks. Katie asked if he wanted to go to a bike race the next day as he’d never seen one. He, and many of my non-cycling friends, only sees cycling by my frequent absence on race weekends (every weekend?).
I like bringing new people out to the races because until you see it in person, you really can’t get a sense for the whole thing. He and Katie grabbed some shade and a couple of America’s finest brews and took in the day. I figured I owed him a good show, and it helped that Ryan was able to come out as well. The plan was brief: Both of us get into a break, and win. Pick up a prime if we can.
Although the race wouldn’t be as fast as a ToAD race — there were certainly no pros in town– there were a few guys to keep an eye on. Because of a pretty nasty storm that had rolled through earlier in the day, the 3’s race was canceled which meant more bodies in the 1/2/3.
The 60+ minute races started easy and I moved up into the first 5 wheels. Within a few laps, a $50 prime was announced. This would cover our race entry if we could get it and in turn 1 I saw a chance to roll into a nice hearty attack. A nice gap formed and a look back and I saw two guys chasing, a bicycle heaven rider and Patryk Limanowicz who had just won the 30+ and I know has a pretty good sprint. They both got on my wheel right into the final 2 turns. I didn’t really feel like tearing my legs apart this early in the race. I took the final turn wide so Patryk would likely go inside and start his sprint. He did, and I got on his wheel quickly. I was able to come around him right at the line. $50 in the bag, now we’re racing for free.
After that prime, for about a lap and a half Bicycle Heaven and I rotated nicely (Patryk retreated to the pack) but neither of us put in a hard enough effort to stay away. Too early and too hot. Once we got caught I reintegrated into the first 8 wheels or so. Shortly after that, they announced another prime. $25 and some Gu. No thanks… The rest of the field seemed to feel the same way. We came around and a few people sprinted.
This seemed like a good opportunity to launch another attack. I came up the right side of the peloton and across to the left I saw two other riders doing the same. I forget specifically who they were but we got a nice gap and were working well together. One by one the group of three eventually became a group of 7 or 8, one of which was Ryan. A group this big isn’t going to work well together generally and things began to slow down. Ara from Bicycle Heaven had a teammate that I didn’t know on his wheel and he never pulled through. People started barking. I didn’t like how things were going.
I attacked the group from about 4th wheel. I thought I would get someone to come with me but no one did. This was about 30 minutes into the race. My legs have been feeling good, but 40 more minutes solo was a tall order. I settled in and let the race play out. For a couple of laps I seemed to be getting a small advantage. Then the advantage started to shrink a bit.
Just when I figured things were going to come back together for me, I see a vicious attack from a light blue kit. Ryan closed the gap on me so fast that I thought for sure that I was going about this thing all wrong—turns out he’s just pretty fast. He gets up to me and I get on his wheel at 30mph. We begin rotating and soon we are out of site of the chase group.
We eventually catch what’s left of the peloton. I tried to roll through but they decided that they wanted to go fast again. I haven’t been in this situation too many times, to be honest, but my logic was that I didn’t really care about anyone in the peloton, who left to their own devices were going 22-24mph. I was more concerned with the chase group. I set the pace at 27 and flicked to see if anyone would be willing to keep going, if we can catch the chase group, the peloton is back in it. They didn’t seem to care and no one was willing to go fast. Andy Swims would have been a likely candidate, but I understood that he had two teammates up the road.Ryan eventually tells me to chill out and drink some water. I listened for a short while, but the pace was maddening. In retrospect, enjoying the free ride and attacking late to solo in for the W would have been an ideal move. It was hard to sit idle knowing that 3rd place was trying to get to where we were at and frankly I felt strong enough to set the pace.With a few laps to go I put in some big pulls just to ensure things would work out fine. Ryan told me that he wanted to practice a sprint and he would lead me out. When it came time for this, I screwed the pooch and Ryan crossed first, I guess that’s why we call it practice. In my eyes, it’s actually fitting. Without his pulls I wouldn’t have been able to stay away.
Any day the only argument you have with your teammates is how the other guy deserved to win more is a pretty good day. In the end, we snagged another jersey for Enzo’s, two medals and a few bucks.