09 May Tour de C-U Day 1 Masters 35
We had a nice team coming down for the Saturday race in Champaign. This is the 4th year Druber has held the event and a few of us are quite familiar with the Saturday course. I call it the stadium course because it is held on the U of I campus, close to the stadium? I am not really sure if it is close or not but I like the name. The boys seem excited to be racing in warmer temps, today is going to be a high of 88f, high humidity and light winds. Gene, Bob, John Whipple, and myself are playing today, with a few more of the boys driving down for the Sunday races.
I park close to the start/finish line, giving me a clean line of sight of the official’s podium. I can hear Billy Stone and Druber announcing, the two of them are finding a way to make funny comments about bike racing.
This is not easy, since watching a bike race is about as exciting as watching golf. Unless you race or really understand bicycle racing, it is boring to watch. To the untrained spectator it is cool for a few laps and then the effect wears off because they do not really understand what is going on.. Billy and Mark did a great job keeping the boredom to a minimum, briefly explaining a few basic concepts. Nice work boys.
After a short warm up and a few 90% jumps, Bob asks how I feel, not so good Bob. He laughs saying “Great, you will be going well today, you always race well when you feel poor in the warm up.” I do not really agree but who cares, I am really excited to be racing my bike with an added bonus, which is having great teammates. Anyone who has raced alone understands how the fun level goes up considerably having other good racers by your side. Besides, we all have the attitude “one for all and all for one”, raising the fun meter to eleven. Once we find Big John, we talk about our race plan which is simple. I will not spill any details, but one of us winning was mentioned.
We line up to hear the officials announcements and we look around the group seeing who we will be playing against. The usual suspects with the exception of Randall Coxworth, a bad ass racer from Southern California and is close friends with Druber. Actually, there are a number of us that are friends with him.Randall had made all the Tour’s de CU until this year. Raising a family has a way of curbing personal appetites, though certainly an endeavor worth the compromise. I would not be the racer I am today without the experience of raising our family. I find power because of the support my Wife and Girls give me.
Wow, I am sounding like a ______, HTFU Enzo, what is getting into you?
After, the officials re-pin every number, not kidding. All the sudden, after doing close to a thousand races, I somehow forgot how to pin a number on correctly. Okay, they had their reasons, it just seemed unusual. So we work through this minor hiccup and the race starts. I am working to improve my cyclocross starts, so I clip into my pedal quickly and go full gas for half a lap which makes me laugh. I know this abrupt start has caught a few people sleeping in the back forcing them to chase on the first lap. Clearly people liked this move because the field kept the speed up and we had a hot first lap. So the Enzo’s team is somewhat animated throwing in attacks here and there, and so do many others. A few breaks formed but nothing ever made it very far. First prime bell rings with the boys in the front attacking, gaining a nice gap. This sticks for a few laps and we have an Enzo rider in this move. Typing this report two days later and watching so many races over the weekend, I will say it was Bob, but I could be wrong. Anyway, this comes back and the pace slows when Luke Seeman rolls off the front again, this time with Andrew Rizzo. The two boys work well together and have a nice gap, big enough that I do not want to use the gas to bridge alone. Sitting in the back of the field I count 20 seconds gap. I mention to Dave Stone that we should cross the gap together, and he nods. I am not sure if this nod means yes or what, but as we cross the start/finish line Billy Stone calls out a prime and the group speeds up. Dave looks at me and says, after the prime? Enzo, “all in”. So the field is strung, we are tail gunning, out of sight, out of mind. Strung out crossing the finish line the pace does not slow, not until after turn two. Dave advances up the right side, so I move up the left. Dave reaches the front first with me being about 2 seconds behind. We caught them sleeping and are free, after turn three I pull through and we connect with the twosome 80m before the finish line. I roll past and say get on boys, help is here, keeping the gas on. A few others became brave and followed us also making contact after turn one. We have seven to work with, maybe eight.
I know this is a tough course for a team to control a field so it is up to the break to go faster than the pack. Dave,myself, Andrew, Luke,Tom Cox, and Jeff Schroetlin are driving the pace. Tom and Luke are suffering, though I am suspect of Tom, who when in form, kicks my ass in a sprint. Luke skips a few pulls and Tom said he is dying. I ask Tom to roll through which he does, when passing him I say thanks for the few seconds, we need everyone to make this work. Taking a long pull, the next few boys do the same which eliminates Tom and Andrew, not my intention but that is racing. Scott Pearson bridges solo and Luke is now gone. I think we have 6 laps or so and we are on auto pilot, everyone looks comfortable rolling smoothly and fast. Finally the bell lap, I decide to attack after turn one full gas and the chase is on and I sit up after turn two. Scott carries his speed blowing by me, the perfect counter, great move Scott. I grab the last wheel and can hear people breathing hard. I keep my momentum after turn 3 and hit them again 100m from the final corner. Hoping I can make the corner at this speed I need the entire road, a quick check and see a 20 meters gap. Grabbing another gear, now in the 12 the speed increases, one more look back 30 m from the line and Scott is still 20m in chase. Zip up the skinsuit, wave to Druber, and post up as I cross the line, Enzo winning makes Druber want to vomit. Yes we are good friends off the bike, but we both love to compete, so when we race against each other, it is a Love/hate relationship.
Behind in the field, Bob had attacked the group with a Mack rider almost bridging to our group, which I did not know and finished 6th. All in all this was a good day for the Enzo Master’s team. Not because we nailed the W, because we raced well as a unit, this will carry over nicely as the season picks up. We are going to have a ton of fun now that we have the growing pains of our first season behind us. We will continue to learn and strive to become better racers for each other, but ultimately, it is about how much fun can we all have racing our bikes as a single unit.
Thank you to ScarletFire Racing, Druber, Bill Stone, Wildcard Racing, the Official’s, and the rest of the crew who helped put on this great event. Those of you that could have come and did not were foolish. The racing was fast and no training ride simulated these intense race efforts!!
One more thank you to Rob Curtis for the AWESOME Psimet tubular race wheels! These wheels give me an advantage over the competition. You should take my word on this, they will only help you go faster in corners and when changing speeds.
The rest of the reports will be up later today.
See you at Monster’s.