12 Jun Tour of Galena Master’s 40+
Here we go, Enzo’s best recollection of the Galena stage race. I say this because the body is tired and procrastinating badly today. The Galena race is head and shoulders above any other race weekend in in Illinois. There are other 1 day events that still rank above this based on a number factors, but going on the purest test of all around riding skill and mind power, Galena Stage race is # 1.
Kudos to xXx racing for the huge effort putting this race on, one can only hope it survives through it’s infancy.
The race was not as well attended as Enzo would like, this may be due to the extreme difficulty of the event. Some of the top Illinois racers were in Galena though opting only to do 1 or two stages. I believe this is because they know the level of pain is increased when doing the omnium, which takes a different mindset, exposing yourself to this level of suffering, not to mention the heat. In other words, this race is so hard, it can make you crack, only thinking when is it going to stop, that I do not like this anymore. Mr. Wizard HELP, I do not want to be racing my bike anymore, laughter!
The Galena stage race for Master’s is a short 5.8 mile TT on Saturday morning, a difficult 65 mile RR in the afternoon, and a flat crit on Sunday. The TT course this year had been lengthened slightly, about 2 k’s worth. This does not seem like a big deal but the additional 1k was climbing. Now there were 2 hard efforts required on top of the standard TT pace. This short TT, or prologue, hurt me last year so my plan this year is to go easy. Dave Stone is my 30 second man so I do not want to go too slow. Sticking to the plan which sucks, I feel like I had an okay ride, though Dave took some time out of me. This is a 15 minute effort and when the times are posted it says I TT’ed for 2:00+ hours! So I have to protest and wait until all the racers are finished racing before getting things straight. An extra hour of recovery the old body could have used. Shit happens, and we get it resolved, with the 40+ GC team finishing, Gene in 2nd, I am 5th, Jaggi is 6th, and John Whipple wins the 30+.
Gene and I go back to the house we are staying at, eat, a quick nap for me, and back to the race venue. The girls team are asking me how much warm up they need for the RR? Yes most of them are young racers and I tell them 5 minutes at most, that it is quite hot out 92F and you will warm up during the neutral roll out.
The RR is where the trouble starts with the event, allowing people to race any stage like a 1 day event, not having to do the omnium. I am against, making the playing field uneven. Guys with fresh legs that will leave after the RR. They have no interest in the overall which creates two races in one. Anyway we will come back to the Karma lesson that arose from the format and goings on at the end of the RR.
The roll out for the RR is quite reasonable though my legs feel like crap, one can only hope this changes, it should. I make comment after 10 miles that I hope my legs start to open soon and not one response. Lami is going to the front on the climbs pushing the pace, with me staying close to his wheel or in the front of the pack. I can feel my legs loosening by the end of lap 1, 22 miles. The start of lap two begins with the feed zone climb, this is a about 400m of 10-12%, then 100m of 6%, the feed zone is 200m of 4%, and the last 150m is about 8%. I take two bottles and am starting to feel good.
About 12 miles into lap 1 a few guys rolled off the front, 3 to be exact. These boys opened a nice gap on the field about 2 minutes by the end of lap one. So after the feed zone hill Enzo’s GC riders and a few others started rolling at the front, trying to close this gap down. The group did not care much about the break since about half were not doing the omnium. I will not go into the details of the BS that was going on, but we were also guilty of screwing the pooch with the rest of the group. In other words the race is up the road, it pays 3 deep on the day, so the non-omnium riders are racing for nothing, brilliant! This is the down side of the open format.
Lap two is more animated and we are seemingly racing now, riding tempo in the flats and with some exchanges and attacks on the climbs. As we are descending, mid 40’s into a tricky rail road crossing there is a tractor driving on the road at the bottom of the hill. We go past him and all is well, only to be passed back on the climb. Correct, a narrow country road, a blind uphill, a pack of racers climbing and a freakin tractor passing us on the left. We all laugh it off and continue without any incident. The second big climb in the lap is heated, there is a split at the top and we drop a number of riders. I hear one guy say it is not my day as he is exploding off the back. A few of the guys that were spit off TT back to the field. I take a head count, 11 racers, two of which are 30+ guys. It is getting ugly, the wine house climb, #3 in the loop, is really tough, my legs are starting to ping, this is not a good sign. I tell a few of the riders not to follow me on the climbs just in case the legs over rule the mind. It sucks when a gap is opened on a climb because a guy is dropping off, not giving any warning of an explosion!
My mindset is now changing, knowing my body well enough, the pace on the climbs will send me off the back. I decide to soften the race and attack, the group chases and the attack does not last long. We roll onto the highway and I attack again, this time Dave Stone is with me and we drill it for a few minutes. I warn Dave I am totally faking it, do not put to much effort into this break attempt, he just smiles. We get caught about a 1/2 mile from the feed zone and I counter again. This sounds crazy I know, but my mind is telling me to quit racing at the feed zone the closest point in the loop to my car. If I have a gap on the feed zone hill I will be able to stay connected for a few more miles, forcing myself to finish the last lap. At the top of the feed zone climb everyone slows drinking from their fresh bottles. I hear some weird noise behind me, taking a look it is Whipple, he is in the high grass CX riding his road bike. Turns out Karlow was giving John a bottle when they bumped each other hard. This sent John into the field. It was at least 15 meters of riding in the grass before he made the save, nice.
On the first long climb Gene and I are dropped and start working together. This is going to be a long lap having about 15 miles left. Gene is not saying much and asks me how I am doing on water, I say OK and give him one of my bottles. About 1 mile from the Winery, he asks me if we should stop for water? At first I am thinking are you kidding, then I see he is not joking. On the last climb I dropped him badly while going quite slow, this is not normal for Gene who is a good climber, so I knew something was not correct. I take the front position and signal that we are turning into the driveway and we stop for a water refill. A worker was kind enough to fill the bottles and as we are waiting, two of the dropped riders pass us, not even noticing we were standing there. I laugh saying we just gave up two places. Gene drinks down a large bottle and in 5 minutes is back to normal, this was the correct move. We roll into town and I make sure Gene crosses the line first gaining the extra 2 points. Gene was our top GC guy so this is the correct move. Gene is 13th, Enzo 14th. Jaggi DNF’s so his omnium fight is finished.
It turns out the race leader ended up in a 3 person break, this would be 3rd, 4th, and 5th places. One of these riders was not in the ominum battle and the race leader askes if he can have the place, because of the points. The other rider concedes the extra two points. The back story here gets way under my skin having help this person recently to gain a big win! Funny how life is and the lack of grace competition can bring out in all of us. Then the GC leader tell us after the RR this same individual told him that Karlow and I are guys to watch out for in the RR, WTF! Sorry, enough of that.
The crit is going to be fun, I am fueled with payback motivation so this race is going to be as hard as we can make it. Too bad the GC leader has no team mates, and his new friend is not in the race today. So it begins, we attack right off the whistle forcing a chase, this continues for the first twenty minutes of the race. Gene is out in front this time solo and has a 15 second gap, when the announcers start throwing money at the field to catch him. $20.00 first, then $40.00. Brian Karlow goes to the front and is going for the $40.00 only to over cook the last corner, curbing his bike and crashing. Here is where the Karma appears, the GC leader was on Brian’s wheel and goes ass over tea kettle. This did not look good and I avoid the carnage staying connected with the lead guys. Gene is still alone now gaining time on the field. The free laps are taken, we ask if the crash victims if they are OK, they respond with a disgusted yes. Now the GC leader is chasing with a few others and I am at the back, when Dave Stone starts to accelerate up the left side of the group. Thank you Dave as I get on the wheel taking the free ride up to Gene. You see, Dave was only 1 point behind the GC leader, who just exposed himself by chasing Gene. Stone Pony was watching the opening unfold as was I. As we were half way to Gene I told Dave that I would not help bridge to my teammate but once we caught him I would be all in. Dave pull the entire lap hard and we bridge, he lets Gene get on, a 5 second reprieve then I move to the front for the head wind section. I pull really hard through turn 1, this goes on for two laps and we have 20 seconds on the field with 5 laps to go. We were followed by John Whipple and Chad Wiserman with everyone taking pulls now. This is the race, Dave is going to win the omnium, so Gene or I need to win the race today. I figured Gene had been out solo for many laps and I was also concerned about Chad’s sprint, I decided to be aggressive. With 1 lap to go I was pulling into the head wind hard but pulled off 100m before turn one. I am sure people thought I would now rest for the sprint, wrong, after turn two I wind it up from the back passing the front rider going really fast, gaining a quick gap. Grab 3 more gears and coast the final corners, not wanting to crash in turn 4. A quick look to see the gap and easy sprint to the line for the Enzo’s W.
This was an awesome team effort today. No way I find the W without them, thank you. I am happy I could close the deal for us. It does not always work out that way.
At the end of the day the Enzo’s/Psimet squad go, 3rd and 4th in the 40+ Omnium, 1st in the 30+ Omnium. 3 of our 4 Omnium racers make the podium, quite impressive.The women’s team kicked ass and so did the 1-2 Elite racers. Look for race reports here, I will post them soon.
Thank you xXx and the city of Galena, this is an awesome event. I hope more people will come to test themselves in this beautiful part of Illinois. Anyone that thinks there are no hills in Illinois needs to come here and suffer on the Galena flatness!
Safe racing and riding everyone, see you at The Tour of America’s Dairyland.