Well we headed down to Chicago on Thursday, spent Thursday night at my teammate Shane’s house in Homewood which is like on the south side of the city. Friday we didn’t do a whole lot, worked on bikes and ate food and watched TV and ended up taking a short ride around the hood. Got me some Chicago-style pizza that night which was swell, and I thought nothing could top Pizza Hut honestly. But anyways we got up early Saturday morning to drive to South Bend, Indiana, where the road race was. South Bend is also the location of the University of Notre Dame and their cycling team was sort of putting on the race. Shane’s parents are race officials for USA Cycling so we had all the info and stuff on the course which was good. The course for the road race actually sucked real bad, the wind was bad enough but the pavement was just total shit. Like riding cobbles would have been better than some of it, there were kids losing tires and snapping chains and bunny-hopping potholes that would easily swallow a thousand dollar’s worth of carbon wheel. So that was kind of rough, I was up front for a while but I didn’t have the legs for some of the corner accelerations and got dropped. Still managed to stay within a few minutes of the leaders for the 31 mile course so I didn’t beat myself up too bad. Shane rode in the “A” race and dropped out after a lap of the 15 mile course, because the bumps were so bad that his rear wheel was coming loose in the dropouts. Ended up dropping from the crit too, because the men’s “A” crit pace was up around 30 mph on any straightaways. Fast. He’s been recovering from shoulder and ankle surgery too and hasn’t had the chance to really get into shape (he was just cleared to finally ride outside like 2 weeks ago) but he races all summer in Chicago, so he might get there yet.
-Today was a different story for me, kind of. I raced the criterium, which is a multi-lap race usually located right downtown with lanes blocked off from traffic. This was just under a kilometer per lap and it was in downtown South Bend, right by the college football Hall of Fame, actually wrapping around it at one end. We started at 9 AM so it was chilly enough for long tights and gloves and arm warmers but once we were racing I barely noticed the wind or the 40ish-degree air. It was fast! I mean I wasn’t racing with the “A” men, but after each corner you were fighting for a wheel to draft and looking for shelter on the windiest section so you could keep up front. One freaky moment—a rider just inside the curve from me rolled his tire off and slid inches from my front wheel, broke up the whole group and careened across the course. Everyone was okay but his race was obviously done. I was leading when the race was just over half-over, and I was in the front of the pack for all but the last two laps. I decided to sit back for just a minute and let someone else work, and of course then my lack of acceleration lost me some chances when the lead guys made a break. The pace was suddenly through the roof and then it was the sprint, and I’m just not a sprinter. At least not yet. If I’d ridden the last two laps out front I may have been able to fend them off, but I’d already bridged several gaps and fought through my share of tight turns. I was tired. So I finished up in the pack, didn’t get dropped, and had a HELL of a time which is great. Unfortunately this was it for the collegiate road season, the Notre Dame weekend is actually the regional championships and one of the qualifiers for NCAA nationals in Ogden, Utah. Shane’s brother Monk who rides for Lindenwood University (it’s in Missouri) was 3rd in the region and I’m pretty sure his whole “A” team was headed for nationals in a week or two. In a couple of years Wildcat Cycling might be doing the same thing.