Most of you readers know that Downers Grove is home to the US Pro Criterium National Championships. A race that has been in my mind since Glen told me back in March that I would be doing. I was hoping that races like Tour of America's Dairyland and Superweek would get me prepped for....
Saturday was the Pro-Am race. The goal of the race was for each of us to take a lap or two at warp 10 to see how the course felt like at full speed in preparation for Sunday's race. Take no risks and no chances, but take a fast lap. So about half way into the race I found myself sitting about 5th wheel going up the kicker at turn 3 when I felt a deceleration. So I took that opportunity to drill it. After the next turn I looked back just to see what happened and I had a pretty big gap on the field. Probably only a few seconds, but that got me PUMPED! Head down and teeth grinding I took a flier. It only lasted a lap and a half, but at the end of that lap, Sheldon attacked with the same result. After he got reeled in, AJM launched and with the pack a little worn from the 3 laps of chasing, only a couple folks attempted to bridge. Fortunately, Pipp was in tow and a 7 man break away formed with 2 BISSELL riders. Back in the main field, Sheldon and I were calming ourselves at the back of the pack when the pack started splitting up. So we eventually just pulled ourselves out... our job was done for the day and it was a beautiful setup for what was about to come.
AJM jumped on several mines during the course of the break. Letting Pipp save himself for the sprint. At 3 laps to go, Pipp attacked the group and it shattered. Only 1 rider followed and that left Menzies to bridge up to Pipp over the next couple laps. At a half lap, Pipp was with two other riders but was able to play his cards right and out sprinted Menzies for the WIN! Way to go team!!!
Comming off the win on Ssaturday, we were feeling pretty good. Myself, AJM and Pipp rode to the Starbucks by the course and was joined by Ivan Domingez for a cup of Java. Then it was back to the hotel for a pre race meeting.
The race was quite the experience. A thunderstorm delayed the start by over an hour and the rain never stopped. The race was a constant smash of crashes and close calls. One after another, small groups went down around the last two corners. They were downhill, off camber, and slick as wet pavement can be.
As for my part, I did take one flier again when Amaran was at 30 seconds and got sucked back in a couple laps later. But I did take 10 seconds out of his lead. Fighting my way back up to the front was very difficult. The closer I got to the bulge, the more risky people were riding. At 12 laps to go, Glen came over the radio and signaled that this is for all the marbles and that we needed to do whatever necesary to get the job done. So I took some more risks fighting the bulge and eventually found the front of it. But at 10 laps to go, my luck ran out and I biffed it around corner 7, taking out Cody in the process. We got back in at 8 to go just in time to get caught behind another wreck on corner 7. I didn't go down but maybe I should have. I spent the next lap out of the saddle trying to catch back on to the main field and just as I did, I was caught behind another wreck and slid to the ground. I got restarted just before they closed the pits, but didn't start well and never caught on to the pack. My day was done.
In the end, AJM got 10th. The rest of the gang crashed out as well. This makes me ready for some cyclocross action. See you in the mud AJM!!!