I am not sure what my problem is but I need to thank Mike, Bob, Natalie, Liam, and William. These are all friends looking out for me after I am done racing. So to this point, I have done 6 of 8 Chicago Cyclocross Cup Races. And the last five I have left exhausted and without my pit wheels. But I have been doing better and better every week so I might just keep it going. This Saturday does not count but was just wondering if anyone could step up and pick my pit wheels up after Sundays race?
This last weekend Liz and I went to Dubuque to visit our daughter Caileen, for parents weekend at Loras College. We had a great time and she told me something before we left her on Saturday night. I brushed it off but had it in the back of my mind from that moment on. We were leaving early Sunday to get to Woodstock so we said our 'Good-bye's' that night. We stayed up a little late with some of the other parents at the hotel but I just needed to relax, especailly after Liz distroyed me in two games of air hockey. I went to sleep totally defeated.
We got up and made it to Woodstock just in time to get checked in, suited up and a practice lap in. I was glad to see more turns on this course than past years but am always nervous after a rest week. I got a descent warm up in, a couple of sprints, a kiss from my woman and headed to the line. Had a good start and fell right into third spot. As the first lap continued a group of five pulled away with two stragglers trying to get on. I faded back to fifth and as we crossed the line for the first lap, and I started to feel like a straggler.
And as I am sure most of you seen I keep getting gaped after that point. The first lap I could catch on pretty quickly in the turn sections but after that it was tough to make up. My goal is always to be in the top five at the finish and during the second lap, I started to think I would be ok with fifth. The gaps kept getting bigger and opening faster then earlier in the race, as fourth and myself began falling off. As we rode and came through on the next lap I was in fourth, one of four stragglers now, and the group of Whipple, Kurtz, and Wat, continued to put the hurt on.
It is no fun riding on your own, away from the lead pack, in the wind, just a couple seconds off the pace but during the third and fourth lap I just could not make up the gap. I just tried to stay focused and ride everything clean. I was so aggraviated when I had to dismount in the sand on the third lap. It really helps having a great team at times like this. Right when I would be down and out, I could here teammates yelling support to me, which seemed like all over the course. So I just tried to keep the gap the same up to the final lap. Crossing the line on the bell lap I was down about 6-7 seconds.
On the last lap going into the wooded section I noticed no one pedaling down the hill. So I pedaled all the way down the hill and hung on for dear life in the turn caught back on. Got gaped on the up hill and stayed a couple seconds back up to the sand pit. Jeff went through clean, Kurtz Ok and Whipple not so good. Jeff got a little lead on Kurtz. I caught Whipple and rode his wheel but he would not give me an inch to pass in the technical stuff. Whipple was tired as I pulled up along side of him a couple of times after the turns. So was I, but did not want a repeat of Dan Ryan so I waited. Jeff and Kurtz were already pulling away.
From the previous laps, I noticed John would ease up a lot on the loose gravel before the road. So I let a gap open before this turn, picked up the speed right before it, cut it straight, crossed the road fast and held momentum up the little banked turn and accelerated out of it. I went right by him this time and that was just fuel for me. As I held the speed I realized now that Jeff and Kurtz where not far. Ran a fast clean line down the hill and off camber turns, pushed those pedals through the rough bumpy section and caught them by the turn around.
I had wondered before the race if it came down do a group finish where I should attack. I never came up with what I thought would be the best spot for me. I thought about it during the race too and where the others were slow. I am not fifth any more and competing for the win. When do I go? Then I remembered I was slow at the hill and barrier and I had to gap now or it was going to be over it. If I could be in the lead at the first turn on top of the hill and be able to descend in the lead I had a chance to win. Go! Now! Go!
So we made the turn and started heading to the toilet bowl. I stood up and hammered the pedals but so were Jeff and Kurtz. I got around Kurtz but Jeff and I ended up going two wide all the way into the center of the bowl. I let him take the lead at the turnaround point so we did not bump and crash. Kurtz backed off as he was right on Jeff's wheel. Coming out of the bowl, I stood up again and raced Jeff to the next turn. I remember Jeff was much faster up the section with the last barrier and the hill, so I had to get around him going into this next turn. It worked, I got around him as he yelled 'I was not expecting you'. That was more fuel for me and I was hoping to gap him through the next couple couple of turns. As I made the turn to run over the barrier and up the hill he was right there. I gave everything I had to run up the hill but we crested the hill side by side. My only advantage now coming into the first turn after the hill is being on the left going into a left handed turn. I took the advantage. I made it to the descent first and ran it fast. I needed a gap here. I was out of steam and there were two more spots that Jeff could come around me. One the slight up hill and the other was the final sprint. So it became two races for me within the final stretch. Not like I was not breaking the rest of the race down into little parts.
I got to the road and made a wide turn on the road so I could take the first turn around the tree a bit straighter. Still almost took myself out on the next tree after the turn. The next two turns I had made up ground on the other three riders all day so I held the speed, dipped the bike and brushed the inside posts with my shoulder. A small gap. Yes!!! The team was yelling from the tent. I was excited. Gotta beat Jeff to the next set of turns and then sprint like hell. As we go into the turns Jeff makes up the gap and is on my wheel. 'Ride em Clean', I tell myself. I thought for sure I had him now because I road those turns better than I had the whole race. As I sprinted out of them I did not look back. I was going to go high because is was not as rough and I could use the bank in the hill with the sprint. After the turn I thought it was a done deal and I started to slow up and wonder do I post up. I was so happy at this point, I almost sat down. Maybe I should check? Then I hear everyone screaming especially my wife Liz. 'Go! Go! Go!!!'. As I look back, Jeff must have road those last group of turns great, because was taking the last turn tight and gaining fast. I put my last effort in. I cross the line just a wheel length in front of Jeff Wat.
What a great race!! What a great Weekend!! I would like to thank Northwest Healthcare Center & Psimet Team for putting on such a great race on a outstanding and rough course. It beat me up. Thanks to all the officials that come out every week so we can have our fun, and the CCC Crew for putting on a outstanding series. And Also thanks to my team for all the support and motivation they give me during the race. It was also a relief to finally pull out a good performance with my wife Liz being there. Did that sound funny? Liz just has not seen me finish well so it meant a lot to me. Thanks to Whipple, Kurtz, and Wat for making it a great race. Can't wait for this weekend at Indian Lakes.
Hey Caileen, Amanda, and Bridget. I did it again! I Won!
Thanks for all the support Girls!!