24 May Enzo’s Champaign Race Report 2011
This was the first real racing of the season for the Enzo’s masters team. Primarily we have been in full training mode, chomping at the bit to race on a real course that has more than 4 corners. Druber said the new course was going to be a good one, he was spot on. Day one was an awesome course, 4 corners with an S curve and a bonus, 30 meters of bricks after the exit of turn two. The straight leading into turn 4 was quite wide with a slight incline 2% into a much tighter road, elevating the respect level for this turn. The start/finish line was about 300 meters from turn 4, with a slight downhill and tailwind assist. The weather has been crazy this spring and it looked like there could be a few storms. They never developed, a perfect sunny day with temps in the mid eighties. So to all you racers that did not show up, screwed the pooch.
I arrive early and set up the Enzo’s tent. Correct, Enzo’s now has a shelter/kite to worry about at the races, great. As anyone that has been around races knows these shelters are a double edge sword, great once in a while but in heavy winds, they can become airborne, not to mention the additional loading and unloading.
I receive a call from Karlow, Bob and Ward are driving together, while Gene is driving solo coming from Madison. I was in Charleston, Il watching my youngest race in the IHSA track championships. She qualified for the 3200 so I was able to watch her race at 10:45, then drive 50 minutes to the bike race. How awesome for me that all the pieces fell into place perfectly. The boys arrive and immediately start talking about our plan for the race. On the way to registration we run into the Psimet crew, Rob, Julie, Speciale, and the rest of the crew. Everyone is excited to be at a race with great weather, the air was full of positive energy.
We are hanging around the cars, watching the races when Chris Black walks up and sits on the back of my car. Man hugs for everyone, we have not seen Chris since the end of the 2010 season, he and Trish live in San Luis Obispo, CA. Chris has been racing his bike for as long as anyone I know, and I mean racing it. He is much older than me, by 5 months, and was ranked #1 30+ crit racer in 2010 by USA Cycling. I am a Chris Black groupie, Ok I am really a Trish Black groupie and only pretend to like Chris. Anyway, Chris is sans Trish on this leg of his racing trip, driving his rig to Tulsa after this race weekend. I would like to go though I will stay in Illinois and work this week.
Being parked 150 meters from the finish line we are getting ready and watching the races at the same time, which is always distracting for me. Add Heagney and Kelli into the mix and it is more like a party then pre race prep time. Now about 40 minutes from our start I hop on the trainer while the rest of the boys go look for some roads to warm up on. This worked out well, Gene upon their return said there was much debris on the streets. As the previous race finishes they open the course for a test lap, well 3 laps, giving us ample time for a thorough inspection. I am happy with what I see, a fine course giving people that can handle their bikes a slight advantage. The officials read us the standard announcement as I am told my number is too high, that I need to move it. Now the boys and a few others are heckling me I laugh thinking, go ahead have your laughs now boys, because I came to suffer today. I am laughing because I know if I really suffer in a local race which means we will all be in the same boat, more laughter.
The gun sounds as I make sure I get my ass to the front before the first turn. Good thing I did this because Gene decides to go full gas for the first lap, without telling anyone. Tati John takes over for lap 2, then me, then Randall Coxworth, and we have the first split of the day. This is how it stays for a while and then I see Ward had come across the gap, I tell him to sit on as I continue to rotate. We are gone that fast and I hear Billy Stone announce we have 35 seconds, which means this is the race. Not great since Heagney, Coxworth, and Schrotlin are all here, which on paper says at best I get fourth. Now I know Bob is not going to sit back in the pack for long since we are out of sight. Sure enough I keep watching behind the group and I spot Bob, making the solo bridge. He is still 20 seconds away and I am sure I am the only person that sees him bridging. I stay in the rotation soft pulling just enough so the group does not realize what I am doing. As I go to the back Bob had just made contact and I give him the index finger across the lips to be quite, do not let them know you are here. I am laughing as I go through the rotation then attack and leave the group. I do this because I now have two guys that can sprint and the chase will soften the others while my guys can just sit on. It works perfectly I am off for 8 laps being caught with 3 to go. When I realize I was not going to make to the end solo, I soft pedal, resting so I will have the energy to cover any counter attack. Sure enough Randall Coxworth nails it and with me closing the gap quickly, Ok it was a full on chase for one half a lap, being about 10 bikes off the whole time, I finally make contact and find Jeff Schrotlin had smartly sat on me. Randall Coxworth, another great bike racer, with a National Championship to his name, hits it again. This time I look at Jeff and say it is your turn dude. I am surprised when he just sits there so I ask if he is really going to let the race go away? Jeff goes Pro on me and does not say a word, so I give him the OK, as I smile and sit there. I guess he thought I was an easy mark in the sprint. Jeff stalls the pace and I go in front soft pulling and he finally attacks me on the slight uphill. This was easy to cover, he must be saving some for the sprint. I sat on him until 100 meters from the line, then going full gas beating him for 2nd by half a wheel, or just enough.
Behind is a sprint for 4th which Heagney wins by a tire over Bob, with Ward getting 6th. Gene sets up the opening and we close for him, not a W but a nice finish, A pleasant surprise when collecting our cash is I had picked up a prime when TT’ing solo, winning a dinner for 2 at Jim Goulds steak house, which was awesome. We ordered 2 of the Tomahawk steaks, see the photo, gnawing chunks off this burly cut of cow, holding it by the bone/handle like ravenous cavemen, what an awesome prime, or prime cut of meat!
Day Two Race #1, 45+
Ward and I are the old guys in the group so we are going to double up racing the 45+ first and the 30+ to follow. Now for those of you that race two races in a day know this is hard to really race both races, even harder is racing back to back. This is the call today and I tell Ward he is the guy today. So our plan is to conserve energy for the second race while winning this race, sounds so easy when we are by the cars pinning numbers. So we line up and the field is very small, maybe 20 guys, which sucks for Druber. What the hell is going on, this is really cool course in downtown Champaign with a good prize list. A guy put all this effort to make a great 2 days of racing, so where is the love? Enough said, the gun goes off and we follow wheels watching the players closely. The conditions are somewhat difficult, mid-eighties with 20-30 mph gusts. The course goes around a few large buildings creating a few wind tunnels, so we need to have a little caution with the high flange carbon
wheels. Yes they can be kite like in conditions like these, if we only knew the wind speeds were going to increase as the race went on. BrianHarris(ScarletFireRacing) is attacking hard as I cover these with help from Chris Black. It may have been Brian’s 3rd attack that I brought back with Chris countering. Now I see CB going up the road with one guy on his wheel, but no Ward? I am wondering why my team mate is not on this, since CB is a horse in conditions like these. I keep an eye on the time gap, which is growing quickly and at 25 seconds, realize the race is up the road, and my guy is not going across. I go to the front and start my TT effort as to bring my guy close enough to bridge but not too close where everyone becomes brave enough to bring them back. The gap is now about 12 seconds, still no Ward, now I am getting hot, I look back to make eye contact with him and he has no intention of going. I give him the signal to go now which he does, connecting with two others. OK now we are in business and I block the field until they are out of sight. Going conservative I am going to follow wheels and wait for a field sprint. It is now my job to win the this sprint, contributing prize money to the pot. With 4 laps the officials tell us this is the bell lap for the field as I quickly move to 4th wheel. Perfect, we come out of the last corner and I am second wheel as the sprint winds up. I sit until about 75 meters and gas it, taking care of my end, getting 6th place. Now I move to the sideline and wait for the sprint between the breakaway boys. As I said CB is a horse in tough conditions and attacks with a few turns to go, though they are all together out of the last corner. I see Ward is not on CB’s wheel but I know he has a good sprint. Unfortunately not good enough and he runs out of race track, getting 2nd by a few inches. Chris said later he was really shocked to see it was about 2 inches. All in all, we raced our bikes with a very good finish, 2nd and 6th.
Race #2, 30+
Now we line up for the 30+, quickly exposing the correct numbers, eating a GU and refilling our bottles, we seem as ready as we can be. This race will be 50 minutes and I see Josh Carter lining up to play. Great, Coxworth, Schrotlin, Carter, and a few others, this will not be an easy go. The gun goes off and who is shot out of a cannon? Mike Ebert(ABD) starts drilling it off the line with no one having any interest. I go to the front and ramp up the speed as to keep him at a reasonable distance. As I look back now I have a gap and slow down, I am not happy with this tactic but it is a long race. A few guys start to attack in lap 2 with Gene Tolli being one of them, now we are talking. An Enzo racer is now up the road with the 4 of the really fast guys staying with the rest of us. Over the next 10 laps the break is exploding leaving only Tati John and Gene up the road. They have a good gap and the 3 I mentioned earlier go Pro on the group. This means they go to the front and start a 3 man TTT with Bob Karlow sitting 4th wheel. They never ask for help and up the tempo for the next 8 laps. Gene now comes back as Bob and I start to help with the work, bringing Tati John back. Now the wind is really crazy as I experience about a 15 inch front wheel slide entering one of the corners. Josh Carter make a comment, nice save that was close. Little did I know that this was happening to many of us with the buildings causing small intense wind tunnels, combine this with the carbon wheels and look out. If fact, a few guys crashed out because of the conditions. Anyway we get close enough to Tati John and Jeff Schrotlin attacks with Bob glued to his wheel along with Heagney and a few others. These boys end up being the race, with Randall, myself and a few others left behind. We continue to work and bring back the few guys that did not make the bridge with the others. We get the bell lap and I want to be first out of the last corner, forcing the others to pass me in the wind. I am feeling the first race and need any advantage I can get, so this is my choice. Sure enough I get a small gap out of the last corner because of my handling skills but my left vastis cramps slightly, not enough to stop sprinting but enough to back me off to 85%. Oh well, passed by 2 and finish7th. Up front Heagney used my tactic and closed the draft side on Bob, causing him to hesitate slightly, a Pro move by Heagney and he finds the W, with Bob being a close 2nd.
This was a great weekend of racing with half or the team present I am quite pleased. We raced our bikes, never just sitting in waiting for a sprint. Next up for us is the ABD Master’s weekend in Wood Dale. We will finally have a full squad and will be tough to beat.
Thanks for following and remember to protect the ButtonHole with Enzo’s Chamois Cream.
Some Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxniJgR_MCk