17 May Enzo’s Fox River Grove Race Report
Fox River Grove, this event has the potential to be a classic criterium in the correct promoters hands. After seeing how Rob Curtis(RC), Psimet Custom Wheels, picked up the pieces from RDS, I have to believe that FRG Village will want to work with Rob again. Not only did RC only have 3 weeks to put everything together, do not forget he increased the prize money significantly while leaving the entry fee the same. In the past RDS paid $100.00 to 4 or 5 places for each masters category. This year first place in the 45+ and 30+ was $100.00, paying $250.00 to both of these master’s fields.
The HUGE difference I see is, RC wants to have the bike race for the sake of the racers and racing community, while RDS wants to create an income for himself. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with promoters want to make money for their efforts, but how much is enough? RC is writing 2 checks this week, one to the village of Fox River Grove, and one to McHenry County Big Brothers and Sisters. These checks are not large, all profits have been returned to the community while Psimet receives great press for running a quality event. Thank you RDS for canceling this event giving Psimet a chance to strut their expertise.
On to the racing, as everyone in the Chicago area knows, the weather has sucked this spring and the past weekend stayed the course. I woke up to see wet roads, though it was not raining. I fire up the java machine check the weather/local radar and am surprised, it looks like we will have a mostly dry day. Forecasted temps of 49f currently 41 @ 6.20am. I packed my car Saturday night which gives me time to read a little while drinking my coffee. Nothing like a quick dose of philosophy, aiding the correct frame of mind for the sufferfest the body will have to endure, in order to have a shot at the podium.
I drive over to the course which is all of 6 minutes from my house to find a busy Psimet crew. Rob(RC) asks me to take a look at the straw bails around the course making any adjustments if needed. Scott Knoepke jumps in the front seat as we take a lap. We make a few adjustments on the fast corners, doubling the bails in front of the solid objects where necessary, the impact zones, our intention is protecting any rider that crashes at the fastest points of this awesome course. Is this it, 10 minutes of work because the Psimet crew has everything else handled? Back home to stretch and chill. Sweet.
I return about 9:00 and pick up my numbers. The first race will be the 45+ which runs with the 30+. I must digress, not being a fan of the latest ICA categories. This seems so simple, like adding a topping on a dry piece of toast. Example: Your category is 2, racing age is 41 and the first race is 45+ followed by the 30+, lets say the 30+ starts at 10:15. If it was 40+(not 45+) then this racer could race back to back. Now this racer must stay at the bike race from well before 10:15 until 3:00 to race again. I suspect this will promote people leaving, only racing 1 event, or going to Wisconsin or Indiana to race. Enough about that.
Prepping for the race my daughter arrives with Tyler, our Enzo’s photographer, a photo student with a fine eye for shooting sporting events. Tyler will test his skills today, the sky is overcast and my guess is that is not the best light for shooting great pictures. They hang in the car while I warm up on the trainer. My legs feel OK so I eat a few GU Chomps grab a half bottle and go to the start line. On the line there is no sign of any of my Enzo’s team mates, I am not happy about this and decide I will use the additional energy on the other racers. I refocus before the gun goes off starting the 35 minute race. This seems like a short amount of time, it is, but remember there is an elevation gain of 102ft. in 200 meters every lap. This does not seem like much but combine this with a high tempo, it will wear on you.
First lap seems fine as I sit 3rd wheel as we climb the hill for the first lap. I give a little hit after the downhill left hander and whip the speed up to 37mph, taking a look back to see the string is completely broken into pieces, I laugh in my head and slow the pace. My plan is to follow wheels until late in the race and see who is feeling good today. At the base of the hill second lap, Bob Ruggles attacks super hard, I am not sure why he is doing this but I grab his wheel gaining a huge gap on the field by the top of the hill. I am thinking this will be fun because I have no intention of pulling while Bob does not ask for help, perfect. We are still off the group start of lap 3 digging hard again on the hill, the pack is close and frenzied, sharks smelling blood in the water. I sit up and ride slowly until they make contact with Bob off solo, no worries since he was going hard on the uphill and medium on the flat, not a good combo for a solo attempt. Big John Whipple(TeamTati) goes to the front and sets the tempo bringing Bob back, all together again. I am back to following wheels, knowing I have the 1,2,3 race later. Evan Jahn(RhythmRacing) is pushing the pace on the flat section with Big John while Bob keeps everyone honest on the hill, sweet. I am in the back smiling at the spectators on the hill while they encourage and heckle us at the same time. I finally see the lap counter read 1 to go as the officials ring the bell, confirmation they are keeping tract correctly. Not wanting to sprint, because the last corner is quite narrow, I decide to launch the attack 50 meters into the hill, going about 90% for 15 seconds I take a look and see I am alone with a nice gap, shift to the big ring and really dig in, the big ring shift brings many cheers. Before turning at the top I check the size of the gap and it is at least 10-12 seconds I continue to accelerate down the hill. I finally get to sweep the fast turns full gas, the first time of the day, 35 mph through the first left hander, sweet. The Psimet Team Issue Wheels are freaking crazy stable. As my bike straightens I dig again holding 38 through the false flat down towards the next fast left hander. I see Heidi, Nicole, and a friend walking on this
section of the course, which fires me up knowing they have a perfect view while I rail the next corner. Sweeping the turn I laugh out loud, check to see if the group is chasing and settle into TT mode, As long as I do not make a mistake in the last corner the race is mine, I keep my focus because it is not over until you cross the line. 30 meters before the start finish straight I take one last look to make sure I am safe for a victory salute. I see Rob Curtis 5 meters before the line, being quite happy I pose pointing at Rob saying, this W is for you buddy. Thank you for saving this race.
The 1,2,3, race is quite a different animal, Rob Kelly, Ryan Freund, and Liam Donoghue, who I have heard is going well after a great spring training camp, are sitting on the line. Only 11 of us in the field, these are the boys to watch. This race is 45 minutes and should not be to bad unless the break forms in the early laps. The gun goes off and my new pedals are a little weird, with my right foot being locked in but not perfectly flat, I decide to wait until the top of the hill to unclip and adjust. This is where I believe Liam attacked because I do not recall him leaving after that. It is not often I am asleep at the wheel when racing. 2 laps pass with a spectators telling us we are 30 seconds down? What, I now realize someone is up the road, scolding myself for not seeing this. 2 laps later, 15 minutes into the race Ryan attacks super hard getting away clean, though Rob Kelly(BicycleHeaven) is trying to bridge. By the time we get to the top of the hill, I see the two boys go out of sight which is 15 seconds thinking we will not see them again, knowing I will not help chase Ryan down. The race goes slowly for the next 20 minutes and who shows up but Liam, that is correct, he lapped the field solo(NICE). He does not slow to our pace and drops the group, now I know I should get on this train, but I had a plan. 1 lap earlier I told Tim Special(PsimetElite) to follow wheels after I attack, that he would get a free ride to the line for 5th. I see Liam is not going very fast on the hill, with only 3 laps to go, I throw down on the hill making a clean getaway. I pass Liam and now my goal is to catch Ryan and Rob. Should be enough time since I am rolling nicely, I can see Rob Kelly and I am closing the gap on the climb.
At the start/finish line I expect to get the bell but the lap counter reads 2 to go? I am confused but know how this can play out(Evanston 2009) if I let off the gas. I now could have 2 laps to hold off the field, choosing to go slightly conservative. If it was certain it was 1 lap, I would have killed myself to catch. Oh well shit happens, the conservative adjustment and Rob being told I was coming fast, he being the tough ass racer he is, digs a little deeper and holds me off. All in all it was a really fun day of racing, 4th is not to bad for an old guy (It was also a great finish for Tim Speciale closing the deal for 5th. It is great when a plan works). I am definitely blessed to have found a W in the 45+30+ race.
Champaign this weekend, I am looking forward to have most of the crew. Racing alone is very easy, only having to take care of yourself. Racing as a team is more difficult because of the responsibility, but more fun when it all clicks, feeling like a well oiled machine.
I will be posting the second entry to Enzo’s Racing School later this week. Thanks for following and safe racing to everyone.