Cat 4 Crit (IL State Crit Championships), 45 min + 3. 4th/40?
This was a really tough race. The field and conditions colluded to ensure that whoever emerged state champ had earned it. I’ve always been contented with my results knowing that I left it all out there, or made mistakes that I would avoid next time – but yesterday hurt watching the podium. I clapped for the guy, he (and his team), had earned it. But I felt the want for that jersey.
What conditions made it so tough? The wind was the main factor, while the sun and heat were secondary. I don’t race well in the heat, I don’t know that my body responds so well to it (perhaps I need more race intensity training in it?) but during the race I used a water bottle to spray my chest and back to cool off. I think it mitigated the heat rather well. The wind, however, could not be obliged with an extra bidon. You know it’s a stiff wind when the little cycling cap brim is folded over after turning a corner! I don’t know that I’ve had that happen before, even in all my riding around Chamflat county. The downtown Peoria buildings created channels for the wind to whip through in a fierce way. The back stretch of the course was the worst as we had a stiff headwind in the main, yet gaps in the buildings introduced instantaneous side drafts. Hardmen would jump around the corner into the wind and the pack was usually strung out there; snaking about to avoid pavement cracks as we recoiled from the blows of the wind. This was a massive departure from last year in the 5’s where the field would be contented to settle down during this stretch. Not so in the 4’s. Full speed ahead!
My thanks go out to my teammates during this race, as they worked at the front for me in the closing laps. With 2 to go (usually the fastest part of the race), Luke went to the front with Tom on his wheel and drilled it for the entire lap to try and bring two xXx racers back (they stayed away to go 1-2!). His monster pull did string the field out and protected me in the top 10, but couldn’t bring back the escapees. After he and Tom pulled, nobody else came to the front to chase (on behalf of themselves or a teammate) during the final lap so we slowed and the “swarm” came. Losing several positions into the last pair of turns to the swarm was not my idea of a good sprint setup. Oh well. I know it’s coming and so I will be better prepared next time. At that point (last lap, 200 meters to go) it was time to go all in. I went and nabbed fourth. I would really like to see some pictures or video, but it would probably only feed my (already stuffed) ego.
Two quick things for my competitors (who probably won’t read this, but I should write it anyway). First, to the dude I (likely) spat on during the second half of the race, sorry man. I raised my hand to acknowledge my fault, but I never did get a look at you so I couldn’t help you towel off afterwards. Note to self: spit downwards if you have to, don’t spit “out!” Second, to the rider at the start with me, you may have thought my teammate’s pre-race breakaway scheming was in poor taste, but be a decent fellow and just say “you can’t plan it dude” or something. Nobody needs the cocky wayne’s world “sha-ah” eye roll. Really. In so doing you prove yourself as lame as the guy you look down on.