So Saturday I found myself in a motorcade headed down to Dixon IL to have some late season fun at the Ronald Reagan Criterium. Dave Thomas and Dave Hudson were also in for the ride and we would later hook up with Curtis E, John W, Matt S, Chris K, and Ryan F. I had sporadically been on the bike over the past month, but based on my performance at Willow Springs (up until my mechanical) I knew I still had some fitness left. So in general, I was looking for it to be a fun day.
Hats off to Hicks Insurance and all the other sponsors of the race. The course was a mirror image of Downers Grove (but ran in a reverse order) and had minimal imperfections, good course marshaling and was definitely challenging. The fact that we had a downhill run into the finish also got me excited.
Masters 30+ 4/5
Field is about 16 riders deep and xXx has four riders in. Things were a little slow for the first few laps as people were trying to get their bearings on the course and figure out just how hard to take the climb between 4 and 5. xXx spent most of our time between 2nd and 5th wheel waiting for the inevitable surge that could splinter a field this small as many of us didn’t want to be on the receiving end. And then it happened, they called for a prime and everyone shot out of the gate. I maintained positioning for the entire lap and was about 8th wheel when it was all over. But heading into the stretch just before the climb I got a slight gap and that’s exactly where the field broke in two. So there are 7 riders up the road (Dave H and Curtis E are both in the break) and the last money spot is 6th. But they say to never stop riding ‘cause you never know what will happen right?
Well, a few laps later I see Dave H on the side of the road and it looks like he is messing with his cassette. I would later find out that he had problems with the skewer and that his wheel had essentially came off. He would get back in a few laps later so all is good right? Well, there are six riders up the road and I have no idea who else was there. Needless to say, we come up on a rider and I don’t know if he’s been dropped from the lead group or if he was shelled off the back of our group. So how many are up the road – 5 or 6?
When we hit the line with 1 to go, we got caught by the lead group. I was second wheel behind a SCW when we headed up the hill for the last time. Right at the top of hill as we are turning to begin the descent, he goes down for what appears to be no reason and I swear that there was only 6” of clearance between his bike sliding left and he sliding right that I somehow managed to get through (I later found out that he hit his peddle in the turn).
So now I am 1st wheel but the leaders are mixed in our group. So, not wanting to cause mass confusion with the results, I pulled over so they could come through and 5 riders went by me and then a second later another rider and Dave H pull past me. Between 7 and 8 I see Dave H start to launch his sprint so I go with him. As the finish was downhill we were quickly gaining on the rider who was in front of us. Dave goes left and I go right, but between my weight and having shifted down back at the top of the hill, I’ve got the speed advantage. I take the field sprint for what I thought was 6th, but would later find out it was for 7th. Oh well, I’ll count better next time.
I’m shelled from the first race as that hill wore me out. We’ve got a 31 rider field and 8 xXxers are in the mix, four of which have fresh legs. My goal was to rest and just stay towards the front. That worked for about 8 minutes, even after Matt S took off from the gun and they threw out that first prime, both of which took up the pace. But on one lap just as we were running between 8 and 1, I was behind John W as he unclipped his right peddle and then his left. Then I saw that his chain was off the big ring so I yelled “it’s your chain.” As he was slowing down to get out of the way I couldn’t get around him in time to get back into the draft. So a cooked engine and no draft meant that my race was over - especially when there is a hill involved. So be it – train harder in the off season so it’s not a problem next year.
In general our guys raced very well and we had some impressive results. If they run this race next year I will definitely make the trip again. Now it’s on to spending time with our new daughter, hitting the gym and taking up swimming for a couple of months. Hey, 2010 is right around the corner right?