Monday, August 9, 2010

Grayslake Cycling Classic

This weekend marked the final race in the Illinois Cup (which has nothing to do with me because I'm a 5) at the Grayslake Cycling Classic in Prarie Crossing, IL. Before we get to the cycling, I just want to say that Prairie Crossing is far and away the most beautiful subdivision I have ever encountered. If you ever have the chance to check it out, I highly encourage it. The scenery is astounding, especially for a random community in Northern Illinois.

Grayslake was my second to last race in the 5's and I had high expectations for what I could do. The course was a 2 corner, 3 "bend" loop. It is kind of hard to imagine from a description so here is the map. The course was pancake-flat and the low number of turns meant that I would be able to use my momentum-maintaining build to my advantage.

The race started at 8am, which meant an insanely early wake-up call. Coupled with the fact that I had worked until midnight every night last week except for Friday, I had no idea how my body would respond. I was pinned and on the course with about 30 minutes to warm up. Luckily I had not forgotten how to ride a bike, but my legs felt really stiff. I finished my warm up and hung out by the start/finish and caught up with Mike from Tati and his new bike. I staged in the front row and the race took off pretty close to on time.

I was curious to see how the Cat 5's would handle the bends. My initial thoughts were correct. Since they were not turns, people did not treat them like turns. Needless to say, things got quite squirrely. Luckily they were wide enough that I could avoid the myriad interesting choices made by unattached riders. The race started off slow and there was a ton of wind on the back stretch which caused a lot of swarming. On the second lap a xXx rider rode all the way from the inside of the first turn all the way to the outside (yes, I literally held the guy next to me up and rode in the gutter as captain shittyturn tried to crash out the field, but I digress). At this point, I decided it was time to hopefully get ride of some of the people that were looking to cause others to touch the pavement. I jumped on the front near the final bend and opened up the legs a bit. I held a meaningless bit of separation for about half a lap before the field caught back up. Like clockwork, I rode through turn 2 on the front to hear the sounds of carbon and aluminum hit pavement behind me. It sounded really far back, so I assumed correctly that most of the people I knew would be contending for the win were safe behind me.

I rode well the rest of the race and was able to move around freely. On the second to last lap I was not paying close enough attention to positioning and let myself get 4-across the turn. Since I was on the outside, and did not recognize the kit of the rider next to me, I figured I had the choice of slowing down or riding the turn in the grass. Crap. I scrubbed a lot of speed and made it through the turn but had lost so much ground that the front of the field had actually gapped the group I was in. I sprinted back up to the front group and was sitting top 5 by the time we rolled through start/finish for the bell. Unluckily for me, for one time in the history Cat 5 bike racing, the pace sped up in the bell lap. This was great for preventing swarming, but not great after the effort I had just put in to get back in position. Coming out of turn two, the guy on the front (I believe the eventually winner) turned on the jets. I was able to stay Top 10 coming into the final bend but knew I had nothing left for the sprint. I waited as long as I could to stand up, but had nothing left by a sick feeling in my stomach. I rolled across the line 15th. Normally, I think I could consider this a decent result, but as I am nearing the end of my 5's career, I was hoping for a better result.

Next weekend is Glencoe. 7:15am start. It will be so nice to get out of the 5's.

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