I made my first (ever) pilgrimage to Matteson last night, where I was happy to find a solid contingent of XXX riders. I settled in with the "B" group which included Mike, Loukas, and Chris among others.
The first race was uneventful for me as I was a bit confused about the format and ended up riding a couple extra laps with Mike and Brean from Cuttin' Crew because we were unaware the race had ended. I later learned that Chris had won that first race, and I hope that everyone else had a good result.
The second race was far more interesting for me. After jumping out in the lead from the beginning the other XXX riders coalesced at the front with me, and we had ourselves a little breakaway. We ended up with 5 riders: Mike, Chris and I from the team; Brean from Cuttin' Crew; and an unidentified IIT rider. Brean and the IIT rider were explicit about not doing any work in the break, which was frustrating as the three of us took extra pulls. Eventually they both took a few pulls toward the end, but we ended up with the lion's share of the work. However, with Loukas blocking the pack the break stayed away. After winning the first race Chris must've been feeling really generous because he pulled the break for the last 4-5 laps (or more)--apparently working for Mike and I.
With two laps to go I had freak incident with my pedal unclipping in a corner, and I lost my 3rd wheel spot and slipped to fourth. I never quite recovered, but Chris continued his heroic 5 lap lead out and Mike pulled out a second place. I ended up fourth and Chris finished just behind me. Brean and the IIT rider rode very smartly as they took 1st and 3rd respectively, but I was extremely satisfied to have been in my first breakaway and to have some moderate success with it.
The major lesson learned is that Luke and Brian are right when they continually point out how wonderful Matteson is as a training ground for new cyclists. I entered this season as a first time racer with the goal of surviving most races, but I had the opportunity to experiment with some race strategy, which was a great experience for me. This is most team-oriented race I've had to date, and it seems like a wonderful place to practice team strategy along with general racing abilities.