Rolling to the start line the morning of the race, the only thought on my mind was... well, actually, I have no Idea what the only thought on my mind was, but I've got a thing for cliche openers, and it was probably something completely unrelated to the race anyways. So, after 20 minutes of self introspection or something, I arrived at registration, pinned on my numbers, kitted up, and was ready to race.
As we lined up (20 mins early, because apparently the holeshot in a 60 mile road race is crucial) the announcer began a prayer for all the riders. As he wrapped up thanking god for what seemed like every last brick on the course, Johnny Cash started to flow from the loudspeakers, and we were off.
Right from the gun, the entire xXx squad went to the front. Why, I don't know, but if there were any photographers, it would've made for some great photos. The action began quickly, with our own supreme leader Tracy Dangott oddly eager to make a breakaway happen. First, he attacked solo, leading to a spirited chase from a smattering of teams, and a quickly recaptured Dangott. Undeterred, he soon made it into an early three man break that lasted through the rest of the first lap.
As soon as he break was caught, counterattacks began to fly. I made a few, but the majority came from Bonkers and some team in a neon kit that I will now refer to as team Kermit. The winning move came around 20k to go, when on of the bonkers riders rolled off the front chasing down an unmotivated solo counter from one of our felt, froggy friends. The attack wasn't exactly brutal, but the field was fed up with chasing. A few kilometers later, the Team Kermit rider had sat up, but Bonkers was nowhere to be found.
The group, tired from the unending attacks and counters, bunched together and began to set themselves up for a sprint. A group of two gaped the field down a descent unintentionally, and seeing the widening gap, I joined them. We looked back, and seeing a 5 second gap on the field, they immediately sat up. I rolled the dice, figuring the field would be tired of chasing by now, and hoping that I still had a few legs left, I put my head down and dug. Hard. Soon, I had extended the gap to 30 seconds, and before long, the field was just a dot on the road as I looked back.
From there, it was just an extremely painful matter of keeping the pedals turning though 12 kilometers of rolling IL roads. No one ever did catch the bonkers rider who won, nor did I get within sight of him, but I managed to hold a significant gap over the field for second, and Aaron Baker proved he had more watts than the common cold, sprinting for 4th. All around, a great team effort, and a great way to close the book on one of Illinois best (and only) road races.