This weekend started with a especially rude awakening at 3:45 on Saturday morning. My alarm clock is always irritating, but at that hour, it is even worse. I crawl out of bed and say to myself that I really love cycling. The reason for this ridiculous hour to awake is to arrive in time for the Circuit Of Sauk road race near Baraboo, WI.
The early wake and long drive was totally worth it. The course was challenging. Riding in the hills was super hard but also a real eye opener. I think I held my own on the climbs despite my lack of climbing experience and my large body frame. A most untimely failure of my front derailleur kept me from getting out of my big chain ring after the first climb. I had to really push even harder to climb which took a lot out of me. I was in the lead group at the start of the second climb, then I was dropped and alone by the time I got to the top. Determined to get back on, I hustled down the scenic and somewhat winding descent. I eventually bridged solo back to the front group that was maybe .25 - .5 miles ahead of me at its farthest point. Unfortunately, that aforementioned front derailleur really killed me on the first climb of the second lap and this time there was no catching back on. I settled in with some other guys who had been dropped from the main chase and ended up finishing 19th. Not too bad all things considered. It was a really fun course and will definitely go again next year.
I get home in the late Saturday afternoon from Wisconsin, clean my bike, and get that derailleur fixed because this weekend was just getting started. Fast forward 16 hours (only about 6 spent sleeping) to The Vernon Hills Grand Prix. The race started off at what thankfully felt like a pretty relaxed pace. I kept near the front for the first few laps, then actually spent a good amount of time at first wheel to push the pace a bit more during the middle laps. At about the 3 lap warning, I let off the gas and dropped back a little bit to recover for what would likely be a fast couple of laps. I gave thought to the prim on the 2nd to last lap but decided against it after thinking about the Beloit Super Crit when I killed myself for beer, didn't win it, and then had little left for a strong finish. The last lap was on. The pace was pretty hot, but I stayed at near the front of the group. I knew the lines I wanted on the last 2 turns and found the right lanes. I hit the sprint hard immediately out of the last soft turn, which I intentionally took to the outside to avoid as much cross breeze as possible. I thought I might burn out from starting too early, but I wanted to test the waters and see how long I can sustain an effort like that. I may have passed about 5 or 6 people on the sprint and ended up in second place by a hair. Success! I thought I had won, but I soon found out that Joel Friedman of Bicycle Heaven (who had taken 2nd place at Hillsboro) had gotten off the front without me noticing.
What a great weekend of racing on the heels of a 3rd place (and an amazing team effort) finish at the Leland Kermesse last weekend. Both races this weekend were well organized, had great courses, and had fortunately warm and sunny weather. This keeps getting better and better. Now I can't wait for this well earned rest week! Up next: Monsters.