The Glencoe Grand Prix isn't just another race on the calendar. It's a highlight of the local cycling scene, but also the national level. This year, the Glencoe Grand Prix would be home to the US National Criterium championship making an already great race even better. The race presentation of everything from the start/finish banner, referee station, pro team cars, live music, food, and Goose Island beer was very pro. The day was well attended by spectators. Needless to say, everyone was targeting this race to preform well in. My motivation was as high as it's been since Snake Alley.
The category 4 field was sold out with 100 riders; possibly the biggest group I've ever raced with. A few things were certain: a good start position would be important, the race was going to be FAST, and that there would be splits in the pack due to the technical nature of the course and varying ability level. I hustled around the mandatory free lap before lining up and slotted into the 3rd row.
The first few laps were a scramble at 28-30 mph. I was sitting at the back of a group of about 20 riders when I noticed that there was actually a gap forming up ahead with 20 riders in it. I made a quick decision to put in an effort to bridge. The race was up the road and quickly moving away. It was a huge effort to catch onto the back of the group, but I made it. Others would also make it too, but there were many who missed out. Unfortunately for the team, only Owen Aronson and myself were represented in the lead group. The accelerations and gaps forming everywhere at the back half of the field kept strong team riders like Adam Herndon and John Wolters out of the lead group. That was definitely not part of the script. The race would have been different if more teammates would have been there.
After getting my bearings and a slight recovery, I move up to the front to keep the pace high. I was also testing the breakaway waters. Nobody really attacked off the front and got anywhere largely because the pace was set so high. I ended up taking first in the last of the sprint points laps. It was nice to get the points since other races don't have them - the prize for most points was a watch. I hadn't planned on going for those sprints earlier, now I was wishing that I had. A lap later, a two place prime is called. Generally speaking, I don't go for primes. This time I did and I crossed the line 2nd behind John Villena from Rhythm Racing, taking home a case of Gatorade. That was the first prime I had ever won. I even got to pick my flavor: lemon-lime. Most importantly, I was liking my chances out of this group. The race continued to wind down and the group stayed fast. By then, at least one group of riders had been pulled from the race. Another was in danger of being pulled by the referees, but they would survive to the finish.
The last lap comes, and my position is seemingly solid. After the hill and slight bend to the left, a rider curiously makes a from the move to the left, pushing me into a curb. I yelled NO NO NO NO before crashing into someone's front yard. I'm obviously animated at that point. The race was over for me. I was banged up and scraped a bit, but otherwise was fine. The bars got turned in the fall, so I brought the bike over to the very conveniently located Mavic neutral support station to get them straightened out so I can still "finish" the race. As I get to the finish area, there are kids everywhere because they are getting staged for their races. I was asked to leave the course, but I explained and went to the referees to make sure I would factor into the results. My final placing was 39th, awesome. Had I stayed upright, a top 10 was in the bag and a top 5 wasn't unreasonable. Good thing I won that Gatorade.
My frame was actually cracked in that crash too. Broken equipment is an ugly side of the sport, especially when things happen out of the control of the rider. The dream is over, and the season may be cut off sooner than anticipated. At least I've got my health.
Despite the end of the race not going to plan and having some busted hardware, I had a good day otherwise. Thanks to friends Aaron, Janet, Mike, and Michelle for making it out and supporting. It was also nice to see Chris Kinonen win in the 3's race in an amazing breakaway and Dave Moyer finish 5th in the 1/2 race. Glencoe was great. I'll be again for more next year.
UPDATE: I was informed on Monday that I had been chosen as a winner of a raffle for a Sram Force Gruppo. What an unbelievable prize to win. The proceeds of the raffle tickets went to a great cause: The Glencoe Educational Foundation. That broken frame stings just a little less now...