Race 1: Chicago Criterium – Chicago, IL

So the Chicago Criterium was supposed to be a turning point race for me. Exorcise the demons of races past and go into the August crit season on a good note.

Not quite.

The legs felt pretty good, and I never drifted too far back in the pack. I probed and prodded here and there when there was a gap left open by an inattentive rider, but largely, I just wanted to end this race upright, unlike the last two. Things got a little sketchy towards the end, though, and at some point on the backstretch, I feel a push, then a full-on shove from my left. On my right is the curb, and I definitely don’t wanna hit that at speed. So in the process of righting my bike and controlling the fishtail this random guy has just sent me, I unclip. My foot goes into the spokes. And I’m skidding, skidding, and somehow keeping the bike upright with my back wheel locked up and my foot in the spokes. In a moment, I’m trackstanding like this for about a second before I plop gently to the ground, with like two laps to go. So for the third race in a row, my day ends with me on the ground from a crash with about two to go while going in a straight line.

After a non-USCF-friendly expletive, I hop up and head for the tent, cursing my fate to whatever kind but unwary soul I run into, trying to get it out of my system. I head home, thinking to myself, I know what will make this better…

Race 2 – Pierogi Fest – Whiting, IN

I had never been to Pierogi Fest before, but heard it was fun. Some friends and I head down, excited to try the cornucopia or pierogi and other assorted Polish delicacies on order. For the uninitiated, pierogi are a type of dumpling usually stuffed with kraut, potato, meat, or cheese, though other types exist out in the wild.

At the entrance, we hit the info desk to get the lay of the land. We find that although we missed the parade, Eastern Bloc Jeopardy, and pierogi toss, there is exactly one spot left in the pierogi-eating contest. I stood there, mulled it over, and decided, “Why not?”

It was still like 2 hours to go, and I was hungry, so I warmed up with some pierogi, bacon buns, and a pina colada.

Game time, and I’m seated at the same table as the defending champ. Hands under the table, water open and tray of pierogi in front of me, what followed was a display of emotional overeating usually reserved for stories in the National Enquirer:

*THUD* *expletive!*


“Man, you’re missing, like, four spokes out that wheel. How’d you get that one wrapped under the crank?”


“Son, I never loved you…”


Ok, that last one wasn’t real. But pretty soon, I realize I might get more than a free meal:

“Tommy! I need you here with that tray NOW!”


“Get this guy another bottle of water!”


“15 seconds!”


And after the final tally, I won the 2009 Pierogi Fest Pierogi Eating Contest.

Definitely the podium step I was looking for, just not the event. I would much rather podium Chicago Crit and “crash out” of Pierogi Fest, but hey, I’ll take any win I can get. And while I probably won’t be leaving XXX Racing/AthletiCo for Team Kobayashi anytime soon, maybe Whiting makes it onto my calendar for next season….