Monday, December 10, 2007
Cross in Chi-town
Headed down to Chicago with a bunch of guys from Brazen Dropouts for the Illinois State Championships on Sunday. We took Paul's RV to the race and let me tell you - that is the way to go to a cross race in December!
It was downright luxurious to have a warm comfortable space to hang out in before and after the race. A plush chair to lounge in, space to stand up and change in - priceless. And the fact that registration today was a bunch of tents set up in the snow made the RV even more life saving.
It was probably about 30 degrees out and the light overnight freezing rain made the parking lot a bit treacherous. But the course was really nicely groomed and they had removed much of the snow to expose the grassy mud.
Other than the few low hanging branches on some of the corners the course was really fun. Lots of twists around trees, a crazy downhill through the thick snow with a 180 turn and barrier before running up the same hill, two trips beneath a bridge, and a couple short steep hills. A few power sections but today was a lot about technique.
There were about a dozen women on the line and I was pleased to see Kaitie and Ashley from ISCorp (two Wisco junior riders) made the trip down for some fun in the snow. The race started out and Devon immediately was in the lead. Holly was ahead of me and by the middle of the first lap I came around her and tried to close the gap. She was within sight for awhile but I was having a hard time getting around lapped riders. I also had lots of problems clipping into my pedals. My cleats just get all icy and it takes me forever to clip in. By the end of the race I was getting a little bit better at it by knocking my cleats on my pedals a few times before trying to clip in. Devon kept increasing her lead but Holly was always back there hunting me down so I had to try to stay smooth and keep the gas on the entire race. It was a lot of fun to sort of slip around the course - some of those corners were super icy - and I was really enjoying myself out there. Again I managed to stay upright the entire race - probably being too conservative in the corners but oh well. Congrats to Devon on her excellent season - it's been fun racing against her and I'll be rooting for her in the collegiate race next weekend. I was happy enough with second place and the chance to practice my snow skills for another weekend - who knows what the conditions will be in KC - right now I'm thinking more muddy than snowy but we'll see!
Thanks to all the volunteers and promoters of the Chicago Cross Series - it was fun to come down and race with some different folks. Also big thanks to Mike, the team mechanic, who was out with his tent, propane heater, awesome wife Mary, and Oreos.
In between his two races on the day he sat in the pit during my race in case I needed a wheel change. What a guy!
After my race I spent some quality time in the RV getting into warm clothes before cheering on all the WI guys in the 3s race. The guys showed those IL riders how it's done and three of them ended up top 5 - Paul 1st, JP 3rd, David 5th. Glen had a bad start and crash otherwise he would have been right in there. I had a great time traveling with all of them - thanks for letting me tag along guys! Here are some of the BDs post race.
It took me over an hour to clean the poor dirty salty bike but now it's all shiny and ready for Nats. I leave on Wednesday and am really excited for the trip and everything that will happen over those 5 days. My race is on Sunday so I should have plenty of time to scope out the course and cheer on the numerous riders from the Midwest who will be representing. I'll have some down time and free wireless at the hotel so I'll probably try to post an update before my race. Should be a blast!