Tour of Elk Grove - Elite 4's
Chicago residents are no strangers to traffic, but it was quite a surprise to find the Kennedy at a standstill as we headed out to Elk Grove from the city... so much for a pre-race warmup, we figured. When we arrived, it was clear that this event was as well organized as last year - 40 minutes prior to the start of the first race, barricades and cameras were in place, the finish line was striped, and not to be outdone by Da Mare, Elk Grove had a Jumbotron!
Registration was another story... Race organizers: Pre-registration benefits organizer and racer alike. One of the ways you can make everyone's life easier is to pre-fill USAC waivers on behalf of your participants so the check-in process goes much smoother. You get a legible form, we don't have to scramble to find a decent writing surface. Deal. It took almost 20 minutes to sign my form and get my numbers... and there was no line when I walked up to the table. By the time I walked away, there were at least 10 people waiting.
While changing for the race, the 5's were off and it was strung out from the beginning... I thought it was a preview lap at first, but when I saw the leaders' speeds it was apparent that the 5's were strung out from the beginning. No such luck for us. When we got to the staging area to line up, everyone was antsy - it was getting quite warm out and first race had gotten off a few minutes late. Once the pace car confirmed the course was clear of the previous race, we were told to head to the line, no preview lap. At the line, the referee announced that our race was being cut to 25 minutes + 2 instead of the prescribed 30 minutes + 1. Positioning at the line is critical in this narrow course, so I moved up as far as possible. We started fast, and the group strung out a good bit due to some poor clip-ins at the line. Having raced the 5's last year, I knew this course. Elk Grove's L-shaped course features 180 degree turns that create a nightmarish accordion crashfest if you're in the back of the pack, somewhere I planned to stay far away from... plans change. For the first several laps, I stayed in the front 10 wheels, even chasing down a few attacks on the backstretch. For a bit it seemed that a break might get away, but despite my efforts to block they weren't quite far enough out to hold. Having been off the bike for most of July due to moving, vacation, and my insane work schedule, I knew that these August races would be tough, but I hadn't anticipated having little to no power coming out of the corners. For whatever reason, I just couldn't accelerate like I used to - a serious detriment in this race. With two to go I was spit out the back with a fellow teammate. We worked together to finish strong, determined not to let a pack of ~10 or so catch us. We managed to stay away, finishing in the bottom of the results.
In all, a well organized event despite some challenges at registration. I just need to figure out where the hell my power went. If anyone finds it, let me know - I'll have you overnight it to me. I could use it.