This week the wife was traveling for work which meant it was the Pilar & Jared show for about three nights. What this typically means is that I am going to miss at least one day of training and my sleep might not be so good depending on how Princess Pilar treats her meager subjects (aka Daddy). Friday Andy got a call that he was going to have to work late and Saturday too, which means Dave and I had to switch our driving plans. No biggie, but I was gonna miss having Andy with us.

So the commander in chief deployed 2nd Cav to Dixon IL while some of the other troops headed up to the land of Cheese to do battle. I’ve raced Reagan before and I like the course; a technical 8 turn affair with a gradual descent into a tight turn 1, a slight rise between turns 2 & 3 and then more gradual descents before you hit another rise between turns 7 & 8 and then a 75M run into the line. All in all, the weather was good, course was pretty clean and there was some decent comp as many took the drive out West with little racing going on near the city. The downfall would be Mr. Reagan’s gremlins waging a never ending war in my head and on my bike.

[b]Cat 3/4[/b]

So this was my first time racing with the 3’s outside of the Masters open races from last year. I expected it to be slightly different than the 4’s, but wasn’t sure exactly what it would mean. xXx toed the line with myself, Dave, Nick V, Curtis, Rob P and the ghost of Andy Anderson (more on this later). I got a pretty good spot up front in a packed filed with 59 riders, but Nick on the other hand, was all the way at the back and would have to try and work his way up. The field was pretty stacked with the boys from [url=]PSIMET[/url] and [url=]Rhythm[/url] had a pretty good presence also – both of whom brought several 3’s to the battle. I was most concerned about Tim Speciale and Matt Samples instigating a break so my focus was on staying up front in case something developed. We get our instructions, strap on our seatbealts and off we go into the wild blue yonder!

I get a decent clip in and take my place somewhere in the top 15. We hit the first rise and I notice something; I’m climbing faster than most of the other riders. This wasn’t all that important now (especially as Drew from Rhythm launched a salvo up the right side), but something to keep in mind for later. Attacks kept coming and the crosswind on the out and back of the figure 8 kept everyone searching for the draft. With my repeated climbing faster than the peloton, I eventually hit the front on one of the climbs and proceeded to take my turn launching a few volleys. And that’s when the first gremlin took a swipe at me. Coming through turn 8 as I was trying to keep it hot, I must have leaned over too much (while I was peddling) and struck my left pedal hard enough to pitch me to the right. All I heard from behind me was “Holy S&%!” to which my reply was to stick my tongue out and keep pedaling (thank goodness for bump & grind drills at the track).

The middle section of the race became a blur of me rollin’ the top 15, bumping into riders shoulders, gaps opening and closing before I could get into them and the pace staying decent the whole time. Towards the end, two riders sent the group scattering when they rolled off the front . It seemed like it took forever for them to get reeled back in. But luckily the break did come back (every sprinters hope when the break goes off).

Mr. Reagan’s next gremlin ran up alongside me on the hill like the Devil in the TDF. I stood up to climb and for whatever reason, my rig felt as if the back wheel was coming off. Seriously; I had to look down at it to make sure I had a wheel and that my skewer was tight because it felt like I couldn’t control the bike. I brushed it off as the pace was amping up and about a ½ lap later, Granddaddy Stripe made his appearance. As we hit turn 1 an American Equity rider either over cooked the turn or hit a rear wheel; never-the-less I was brake checking like crazy to avoid hitting him. Unfortunately, Rob ran out of real estate and endoed into a plastic construction horse which effectively put him out of contention.

Dave remained close to me and we were able to stay pretty close to the front with one to go. But unfortunately, due to some poor judgment on my part and not using the course to my advantage I completely botched the launch of my sprint. I was able to salvage a little something and come in 12th (2nd 4 across the line) but the whole thing left a sour feeling in my mouth as I know I could have placed better. I vowed (as we all do) that it wouldn’t go down that way in the next race. And the ghost of Andy Anderson? He rolled across the line in 41st place – pretty good for a guy who wasn’t able to show up!

[b]30+ Cat 4/5[/b]

So after a nice sandwich from one of Dixon’s cafes and an hour break, Nick and I find ourselves sitting in the first row for the next battle. “Hey, you changed your shoe covers for this race?” I looked down and laughed. “Yeah, the red ones didn’t work so well in the first race so I figured if I went with the white and looked a little more PRO, I might be able to get some good mojo.” We both just chuckle as we get ready to try this thing again, but with only 29 riders this time. Rob Curtis had put [url=]this post[/url] up in his blog during the week which got me to thinking about what I should be doing in races. So with that in mind, I decided I would make it “fun” for everyone this race while trying to stay away from any more of Stripe’s buddies.

So remember when I said that I was climbing faster than the rest of the peloton? Yeah, this time I decided to climb a lot faster than the boys on laps 1 and 2! There was a parking structure overlooking the climb that our Cat 2/3 guys had secured as an observation post. At one point, I remember someone yelling “Attack!” as I hurled a howitzer shell up the rise. But there is only so much of that you can do before you start to deplete your ammo. Nick came up and towed us around for a lap which helped me get out of the wind for a moment before I needed to go back for a full recharge. But if I was the only one thinking launching volleys was fun, my thought would be short lived. Several more times up that rise would see riders from EMC2, Tempo Velo and Meads Bike Shop taking their turn slinging a barrage of gun fire at the peloton.

Once back in the group, Dave asked me how I was doing. My reply was “I’m down to about 165. If I can get into the 150’s for a few minutes I’ll be fine.” Luckily the pace slowed a little and I was able to do just that. At that point, my job was to just sit about 6th wheel and watch the artillery fire fly. And that’s pretty much all I did for the remainder of the race, sit 6th wheel. But good ‘ol Ronnie had one more gremlin to throw my way.

Most of the last lap was pretty chill for me and the cannons were loaded for that final barrage that I knew was coming. Between turns 6 and 7 Todd Koller from Mack takes off and I’m a little slow to react. Between 7 and 8 I get on the hoods and spin up the last rise and get ready to kick into the finishing straight. But something did NOT go right. I’m sprinting but my bike has that same loose feeling I had in the 3/4 race. It’s only when I try to shift that I realize that the gremlin has a hold of my rig and I’m sprinting from my hoods! Yeah, I know, BIG NO NO.

By the time I can shift, it’s already too late and I can only manage to cross the line in 3rd. Uggh!!! Typically when I hit the last turn, I’ve been down in the drops for the whole lap but because I was climbing, I got on top of the hoods. Rookie mistake and I paid the price because of it. This would turn out to be the same reason that in the first race I thought my rear wheel was loose. Apparently I don’t climb on the hoods at race speed all that much so my balance is off? Anyway…

All in all, it was a good day for the boys flying the Red, White and Black. Thanks to Dixon Main Street and Green River Adventure Sports for putting on an awesome race. Now it’s time to get ready for some all-out, flat speed warfare in the city. Watch out for that there road furniture boys!