Sitting at my desk wondering how to tell this story, I will break it down into a few short stories. First the death of the superweek, once the greatest stage race in the US. Many of us were lucky enough to have raced superweek when the fields were huge, the road races were plentiful and difficult, and the best racers would come year after year from all over from North America and across the pond to play in the Midwest. I will not go into the demise at this time, most know the story, but the end is here.
I only raced 4 days in the first week because my family was in Michigan, vacationing at the cottage. Hanging out at the beach, with the main food groups being sugar, ale, and beer. This is the agenda when at the cottage. No phone, cell phone service or television in this cottage which always slows the clock. This was the first conflict for Enzo, vacation or race my bike. ToAD was a wash out for me being injured in the Grafton race/crash, having to be off my bike for a week, making superweek more attractive. I would race Geneva and Richton Park, then drive to the cottage and return for Whitnall Park. After Geneva I was excited by the 35 person field, thinking this could be okay. The race was really fun with the exception of Gary Doring seriously breaking himself in a terrible crash, and the Enzo’s guys in the break screwing the pooch, loosing the race. I was one of these guys.
I pack the Enzo wagon Sunday night so I could leave from the race with Richton Park being 1/3 of the way to Michigan. The race is a simple 4 corner crit, though a short lap, I liked this race last year. Now the first signs of a problem, the field was 12 maybe 14 people, with one women who had just raced before us. The race was fine, small fields make for hard races. Chris Morosa lapped the field having fresh legs, nice ride Chris.
Enzo gets second in the group sprint and finishes 6th. The racers are now standing around the registration table waiting for the results when Mike Garrison walks up and says we are paying 3 deep today and walks away!!! WTF, how do you not announce this at the start of the race? I am not happy this was the method chosen, treating his last few customers with no regard. I demand the 50+ stage winners jersey on principal and drive to the cottage.
Michigan was a freaking blast with the exception that Kendall, our middle daughter was still at home. I have a few ale’s while playing hearts with the card sharks. Yes, my girls are serious sharks when playing any card game. They will gut you the second you show weakness or a lack or strategic expertise. I love this about them except when I am on the receiving end, laughter. The next few days are awesome, horse shoes on the beach, more sugar, beers, sun, ice cream, home made blueberry pies daily and no riding.
I decide to return home for the weekend to race with the boys after gaining a few lbs, bad choice in hindsight. I love racing with the Enzo’s team, but the slow death of superweek has created a weird seemingly negative chi around the small fields. Not negative racing as all the boys came to race hard, but something was different, a weird energy. I dismiss this and we race hard doing 28 laps up the Whitnall wall. I am in the break/ field split of 7 guys. I say split because the field was only 18 people and we had spit out a few of those in the first half of the race. Enzo has three in the break, with 5 laps to go Gene attacks solo, holding it for two laps. I counter but the instant chase was on so I sit up, then Gene hit them again and is off. They bring him back and this time I wait until the crosswind section just before we receive the bell, 1 lap to go. I hit them full gas gaining a gap, I dig deep and have about 6 seconds at the top of the hill. I stay on the gas as best I can though caught about 150 meters from the line. Gene gets third, our other team mate in the break did not sprint, which we talked about later.
So the race is now over, I cross the line going 10 mph and coast down the hill. As I come around the bottom right hand sweeper I see what looks like a crash, a number of bikes in the road and a pile up in the grass. As I get closer I see this is not a crash, it is a fight/wrestling match!!! WTF, I get off my bike to help the already 5 people trying to break this insanity apart. I will not go into the story since I did not see it first hand, but the choices made by these two guys were not good. Words exchanged about a huge line deviation in the sprint and then a dismount into a brawl. How messed up is this? I have never witnessed this in a race before in person. What happens after this is really disturbing to me. The witnesses who watched this BS unfold were asked what they saw by the officials, then it seems they disregarded this info only using the two hot heads opinions. How could they dismiss the eye witnesses versions? Later I would ask the witnesses what they saw and it was clearly one person that made the verbal exchange escalate into a psychical exchange. Enzo is extremely disappointed since this racer is not new to the game. I chalk it up to the negative cloud, the grim reaper if you will, waiting to take not so super week to it’s grave.
I drive home in disbelief wondering what other weirdness could this 2012 road season bring?
The boys all agree that Saturday we would not be racing Downer Ave, a step back if you will, with the plan racing Sunday in New Berlin.
The course looks really nice, 4 corners, wide road, smooth Pave, a small hill and wind exposure. The group is about 20 people, 5 of which are Enzo’s. Again the prize list is cut to 3 places, telling us on the line! The race goes smoothly and we have a fun time racing. I did exchange words with the guy who started the fight, after a comment he had made. Funny because it was a misunderstanding on my part, I thought he said something negative about Enzo’s, which he did, though it was about the break, not the ensuing chase. I did apologize on the spot once this was cleared up.
At the end of the day, we had a fun hard day of racing. It is too bad the fields are so small but the main damage is done. There is no reversing the death of superweek. The last few hold out racers showing up to the event are being penalized for the promoters past and present inept management practices.
I can only hope I am wrong, but it seems there is a body with a faint pulse only strong enough to last 1 more week.
Happy and safe riding to all.