Bring it on baby! That was the mantra for the day. My second IL Criterium Championship race in two weeks. Weird but exciting. After Saturday night's race, I felt great, ready for anything. I was happy to find I had two mates riding with me in the race, Alan and Pat. It was going to be a good day.
Ok, like the night before, there was a bit of a driving issue. Simply Jill and I were talking so much that we missed the exit. After a "long" U-turn, we finally arrived ready to go. Alan, Sean and I all registered and began our warm-up. The course today was as straightforward as possible, a 1 kilo crit with a hill on turn three. If you remember, this is the course Andrew lost his fork last year. We were crossing our fingers there would be none of that this year.
After a brief warm-up lap we lined up. Unlike my normal deal, I started in the back. I figured the race wouldn't open up too much because of the hill and I was right. The race began fairly quick but nothing crazy. The pack stayed together the entire first third of the race. A few surges here and there but nothing major. I felt great and kept wanting to take a crazy "Attack King" flyer but kept holding off telling myself, "Today's a big race. Go for the overall. Don't be crazy."
Midway through the race primes popped up here and there including a great one for a pair of Carnac shoes - Nice! As we came into two laps to go, (as with the night before) a three place gambler's prime was announced. As we came around turn four I found myself in second position, perfect for grabbing a prime. Heck two primes in two days, cool. As we approached the line I felt a rider come up on my left. As I began to accelerate I realized it was Alan - Kick axx! He shot past me and I pulled in the draft. Alan grabbed top honors while I was nipped for second place, still scoring the third place prime. Best to come - Alan stayed out front and turned it on. I fell in behind him and we were off to the races. It couldn't have been planned better. As we came into the final lap, Alan began to fade when all of a sudden, Pat appeared. Am I dreaming, this is great. Alan turned on the afterburners pulling me to the hill. As we hit the hill a Vox rider came around and I decided it was time to move. I jumped just as five other riders came up. As we crested the hill into turn three, there were six of us running the front. I stayed put knowing that the downhill into turn four would hold off most of the riders and we still had a solid 600 meter+ finish straightaway to come.
Boom, turn four was on us and I came around on Skip's (North Branch) wheel. Yeah the gods are with us! Skip is solid, quick and most important big - great for a draft. It was on. I came around Skip and quickly bridged up to the two leaders. As we hit 300/400 meters I felt like the pace was slowing. No one had come around us but I had a choice. Sit in or go alone the last 250(?). I decided to go. Sliding to the front of my saddle I stayed in "track" position and pushed my way up along side the leader. Just as I bridged evenly I jumped, shifted and gapped. It was all or nothing now. I gave it everything I had. As the finish rushed up to me I saw something across the road on my left side. I threw my bike?
Well, it was close. Upon film review, it was third for me. Podium baby, yeah! Even better, the first place finisher was from Wisconsin, meaning Silver for the State Championship. Yeah baby again. Two silvers in two weeks. Who can ask for more. I can't. I raced with two teammates who turned it on at the end, gave it everything I had, came home on the podium and won a silver medal. One of three goals I've had all year! A great weekend of racing.
Downers is going to be sweet!