I had intended to correct my decision to double up yesterday by focusing on the cat 4 race this morning. After a quick pre-ride, I decided that was a silly idea, since this is likely the last day of crit racing I'd do this season, and ran to the registration table to day-of the 4/5 as well.

I lined up in front next to Tracy D, also doubling up, and from the whistle he went a typical pace, and I settled into third wheel behind a wheelfast rider. I noticed the wheelfast rider wasn't very strong, and he seemed to be letting Tracy get out in front a bit. I took this as my cue when he looked over his shoulder, and settled into the front of the pack to try to soft pedal Tracy a good gap. It worked. Tracy was about to get almost a 20 second advantage over two laps before the field woke up and realized what was happening, and then a few bridge attempts went loose. I let about 6 riders go, and settled into second wheel in the event the break was caught, but did nothing even resembling work for half the race. I heard on the PA lap after lap that the advantage was growing and I was just fine with that knowing Tracy was up front.

1 to go came as we headed uphill, and I looked ahead of me on the climb to see my position, starting to think about what I would need to do to get a top ten. Much to my chagrin I see Tracy in the front of the field, and I realize the break has probably been caught. I sprint up the hill and get next to Tracy in the front to ask what happened and he tells me he's cooked, and 5 other riders are 30 seconds ahead. Panic sets in now, as our perfectly not-thought-out plan has failed. I get on the front and drill it for almost a mile of this 1.78 mile, 10 turn criterium. I know we have almost no chance of catching the break, but without a teammate in it, I refuse to give in. I carry the field with me the entire way, and on the final turn into the uphill finish, start to crack. I hang on as best I can and finish a few off the leaders of the field sprint, which netted my 15th for the race. At this point, I am utterly exhausted, and I have to race again in just over an hour.

I cram a pretzel covered bratwurst down just in time to see Mia take the win in the women's race, cheer her on, and go find Jared and Tracy to get ready for the 4 race.

We got poor starting position, all three of us, and in this race, that meant bad things. The field jumped from the start and by the time I was able to stand up and clip in, the front of the field was already at turn one. This was not going to be fun. I hung on for dear life for the 40 minutes before 5 to go would be called, each lap taking almost 5 minutes. By the time 5 to go came, a nasty crash at the top of the hill at turn one had forced me to come to a complete stop, and I was feeling like 6 races in 4 days was a bit much for me. I finished out the lap, but started to feel myself cornering poorly from fatigue, and at this point I knew at best I was racing for 20th, so I did something I hate doing, and pulled myself out of the race. Maybe it was seeing the crash that did it, or feeling like my own cornering was starting to deteriorate, but I felt like I was safer finishing my last crit with a DNF than taking myself and possibly others out because I was too cooked to corner well anymore. I watched the last 2 laps from the side, and saw what kind of damage had been done to the field. Of about 90 starters, only 20 finished in the main group, and at least half finished a lap down or DNF'd for the day, so I wasn't too upset about my decision to call it a day.

While it might not sound like the best end to a season, I had more fun this weekend that I think I've had all summer racing crits and road races. I spent 4 awesome days with great friends in a strange city, and we made damn sure xXx and the city of Chicago's presence was felt in the entire series. I walked away (limped away) happy that we'd at least gone and represented the team to the best of our abilities, and held nothing back. By the end of the series, people were pointing at Tracy and I saying to each other to watch out for triple-x, and I think that's probably the best feeling I can walk away from this season with.

If you like racing, you MUST do this series next year. The venues were fantastic, the local teams all really great, and the racing some of the best I've ever seen. At a time when I was starting to get a little jaded with racing in squares around city blocks, this series made me remember why I love bike racing so much.