As is evident from the title, there isn't going to be a lot of good things to come out of this so I'll start with the positives. The course was amazing. The roads were pristine, well paved, and corners swept. It was all good short of a couple of nasty sewer covers here and there. The hill was fun and challenging and everything was well marshaled. Since this course was moved from the original location which I have never rode on, I have nothing to base the replacement course on but it certainly rocked. The field was competitive and short of a few near crashes due to unexpected slowdowns, everyone rode great. Oh yeah, our screaming teammates on the hill and elsewhere on the course were awesome. Cowbells, flags made of xXx jerseys, the team tent, it was all there. Nice work guys.
Now for my personal issues... My performance in races since Memorial Day weekend has been erratic at best. I know, I know, Memorial Day weekend was in MAY and it's now SEPTEMBER. It's been a sort of rough couple of months. I was awarded the team "Guy Of The Month" jersey in the month of June for the good early season I was having. Since then, I've worked my butt off (or did I?) in races and results haven't quite been so hot. Elk Grove was good, Glencoe was good, Elgin was good. Meanwhile other races were disappointing like Chicago Criterium or downright rotten like Shlitz Park.
I thought that this race could be my chance to end the up and down year on a positive note. It should be stated that I missed some critical training for this race because of a crash I had 8 days before race day. It was caused by some completely idiotic skateboarders at the lake front path. The speed was not too high, but I hurt my wrist pretty bad. I actually thought the wrist was broken for the first couple of days after the crash. Needless to say, it wasn't broken but I did miss the Saturday team ride and the Labor Day team recon ride that previewed the course. Despite those obstacles, I came to the race motivated, competitive, and driven to snag a state champion jersey if things worked out well. I expect good things of myself when I enter a race, otherwise, I wouldn't bother trying.
Now the race begins and all seemingly is going well. As I stated above, the course was great. I felt good and relaxed. We hit the climbs and since I hadn't done these before now, I wanted to test how to approach them. I think I was first up the hill after the first lap while throwing out some love for the teammates screaming on the hill. I settle in again and all is still fine until the 3rd lap. At the hill again, I hit it HARD this time up. Why did I do that? Because I thought it was the LAST LAP. STUPID STUPID STUPID. At the time, it seemed way too easy. I would have finished 2nd if that was the end of the race. But it wasn't. After that effort, my legs were weary of more hard efforts. I could feel cramping trying to show it's ugly side in my calves. The cramps never came, but by the time the last climb came those calves were too spent to be competitive. I was in decent position heading into the hill at about 10th wheel or so. I tried to relax on the first part of the hill and then get more aggressive as the long and inconsistent climb progressed. Good idea if you don't fall back 20 places in the process. A crash took down a few people in front of me, but that had no bearing on my finish. John Wolters did get caught up in that mess and I just missed running over his head. I came in 30th. I didn't even take a whiff of the top 10.
Chris Koster not only took a whiff of the top 10, he was high on the fumes. He finished 2nd, just behind a Cutting Crew rider. Good for him. His consistency this year has been amazing. If I don't step up my game early next season, I am going to lose my cat 4 buddy pretty quickly as he shows no sign of slowdown in his rise to cat 3.
Now it's going to be a long off season of thinking about what could have been. I hope that I can use my successes as well as my mental and physical breakdowns as kindling for the kind of training fire that I have never burned. Hillsboro is just around the corner, right?