Ok, it's late so I'll keep this short... Today was the infamous Downers Grove Criterium. Yes, it's a high fee for a short race ($25 for 20 minutes) but it's a wicked fun course. Today I raced the 4s with Alan, Andy, Eric, Matt, Jason, Joel, Bill and Tom (I hope I didn't miss anyone, is so please speak up). Also, I know I'm going to miss some of the details; e.g. crash that pushed a few of us back/out. Please fill in the missing details!
As par for the course (no pun intended), the race got off to a quick start. The field was 75+ riders so the first couple corners were a bit hairy. Things quickly shook out and from the start we dropped riders, a few every lap. The race was fairly uneventful and to be honest, not crazy fast. Solid but not deathly. There were a few primes but XXXRacing didn?t' vie for any of them. Instead we kept out noses out of trouble and took some pulls and covered the moves (Thanks E!). With about six laps to go, the inevitable happened, a crash. On the second to last turn of the course I was taken out by a Proctor rider along with five other riders. Ironic in that I was sitting third wheel at the time, a normally safe place to ride. After confirming that I wasn't going to be drilled by another rider, I got up grabbed the IF and jumped on ready to chase to the pack which was now beginning to go through the final turn. As I began to pedal I quickly realized my tire was flat - damn! Fortunately, DG has Mavic Neutral Support so I simply needed to get to the support tent and grab a new wheel.
After a cautious ride to the Mavic tent, I grabbed a new front wheel and was ready to jump back in with the pack with the other crashed riders. That's when Rich (official) gave us the news, "We're putting you in at the back of the pack." What? We'd just been at the front. We were the leaders! No arguing. Simply suck it up and jump in I guess. With a push off from the safety fence, it was a quick race to work my way back up through the group. By the time we hit the base of the hill, where the two loops meet, I was back on, in fact I had pushed myself through the pack and into the lead. Whoa, not where I wanted to be with five laps still to go.
With two (?) laps remaining another team attacked. Andy, who'd been riding strong all day was there to cover. He quickly closed it down and continued to work the front. As we headed into the start/finish for the bell lap, Andy found himself at the front again looking to start up the XXXRacing train. I quickly jumped on his wheel to the base of the "hill". Alan, who'd been hovering smartly in the shadows then took over. He attacked into and up and over the hill, pushing the pace through the descent. I moved to third position behind the '03 3rd place finisher. Perfect.
Here's where things get a bit blurry. As we approached the right turn at the base of the hill, Mr. Independent, Matt O'Keefe made his move. He launched as we came through the turn and quickly gapped the group. I hesitated which would prove fatal. I hoped/figured someone else would chase him down but no one moved. I finally jumped to bridge, in the process dragging Mark from MLG behind me. We came within two bike lengths of Matt as we came through the 3rd to last turn. I looked under my shoulder hoping Mark would come through but he'd have none of it. He was simply going to ride my wheel. I jumped again but by this time Matt's lead had grown to 4-5 bike lengths. The victory had just slipped out of my hands. However I still wanted to pull the second podium spot. I sprinted into the final turn taking it wide into the barriers to ensure that if Mark tried to come around I'd see him. I gave it everything and could see the finish line coming up quickly and like so many races recently, I could also feel another rider. Yep, as we hit the line, Mark came around and took me for second at the bike throw. Damn! I mean yeah! Another podium though nipped again. So third it is. The greatest part, Alan took 7th(?) and Andy in 12th(?) after all the hard work. Also, we put together a plan and excited it with a podium placing!
All in all a great day and a great race. I've said it 1,000 times. I joined the team so I'd have teammates to race with and today was a perfect example of it! Great job to everyone and let's do it again at Sherman Park.
p.s. Also did the 30+. Two words, "Super Fast!" Got pulled. Such is life. Great experience. I'll let Randy, George or Shane fill in more on that one.
Two additional notes, special thanks to Joel and clif for providing us with plenty of shots and bars for the day and the clif tent. Warming up in the shade was a huge advantage! Thanks!!!
Also thanks to Erica Helms and Dania Barone, our "personal" trainers from AthletiCo. Erica and Dania spent all day with us, stretching us both before and after the race. I think it's safe to say we completely took advantage of their services. This was the second year with us for Dania. Thanks!!!!