Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit

The anticpation at the starting line as Burnham Racing's Spring Super Criterium was the extent of the excitement for me yesterday.

On the upside, at least the near-perfect weather helped me get a head start on my tan lines. However, from an cyclist's point-of-view, efficiency-wise, I may as well have just put my kit on and watched the race from the lawn chairs we brought, for all the work I did. In either race.

A complete shame. It was absolutely dynamic out there. The pack was in constant motion with strong south wind affecting all the back stretch turns. The course itself was a dream. No roughness. No gravel. No obstacles of any kind. Just smooth black pavement and wide sweeping turns you could theoretically pedal all the way through.

I won't bellyache or moan or bore you with self-pity, as I usually do in this space. I'll just say this: yes the 4/5s race was pretty sketchy. I made a couple of boneheaded moves myself, one fully my fault, moving up on the outside to jump on an attempted break coming inside and swerved pretty drastically after a few kicks. But for the most part it was just 45 minutes of praying to stay upright on the turns as handlebars shook all around me and rims shrieked against brakepads.

It did get pretty interesting with Jon's two (at least) attacks and Calvin's prime win, but with the wind, nothing was getting off. And I was at the front working with the blocking when I could, but of course when it was time for the final blast, I had fallen back and had to make up way too many riders on the sprint. My name didn't make it into the original posted results, but on contesting my placing, it was revealed that my poor-form bike throw netted me a 13th placing by about an eighth of my wheel hub. It was that close.

XXX did very well over all, with a 2nd place (Peter Strittmatter), a 5th place (Calvin Smythe), 7th (Newt Cole), and 10th (Jeff Holland). Upgrade points for all.

The 3/4s race was much smoother and faster, but that's all I can really say about from my perpsective. There was always a break off, but nothing ever stuck. Other teammates were up there doing a ton of work trying to help JT and Shane, but I could never get it together mentally to stay up there. The swarm would always push me back when the pack slowed on the head wind.

My racing tactics percentages are way off. My concern for my safety in the pack is really holding me back to the point of still being tentative, and my aggressiveness needs a lot of work to blossom with my smarts. If you asked me, I couldn't tell you who was in ANY of those breaks or even what teams had the strongest riders in my races. If my tactics were a smoothie, it would be mostly protein powder and unblended chunks of banana.

Not smooth at all, that's for sure.

Oh hell. It's only my first criterium of the whole season. I had to have learned something, right? All lessons I already know but: A) Take the time and scan the field as you warm up and wait at the line. B)Move up, move up, move up. C) Keep focused on what is going on - externalize the race! D)Have a plan. For yourself and for the team. Even if it's only to be plotting where you need to be as the final lap is approaching, whatever your time frame is. E) See B.

Lots to do between now and Whitnall Park. But there's also lots in which to do it in. Matteson will be to fun and loose-no-pressure tune up it always is. Leaving for Asheville on Thursday afternoon for 4 days of riding that will include two centuries and over 10,000 feet of climbing. Then up to Wisconsin for either Menomonee Falls or Great Dane Criterium #2.

Spring's here. I want more than just tan lines.