Tuesday, July 28, 2009
So Sunday was the Chicago Criterium. A really cool downtown course that has you right on Lake Michigan near Grant Park. This is a big money criterium that is NRC ranked for men and has a solid purse for women with $7000 up for grabs. With the NRC stage race Cascade going on in Oregon and Superweek finishing up I expected there to be a smallish field of women. I wasn't too surprised when I heard that Laura Van Gilder was there and all in all there were about 40 women on the line. At Fitchburg I had convinced my Canadian teammate and super strong rider, Joelle, to fly in for the event even though it was two days after her Pan Ams race in Mexico . . . which she won! Congrats to her on that awesome result!
Team Kenda had a couple more riders make the trip to the Windy City with Ashley, Catherine, and Christy also there. We also had lots of support in the form of manager Paul, mechanic Mike, and regional riders Monique, Imelda, and Karen (plus her family including Emma who was rocking a Team Kenda skinsuit!). The plan was to race aggressively, go for some primes, and try to keep Joelle as fresh as possible for the sprint.
A talented field of regional riders with a few making quite the trip to attend. The race started out fairly fast and as we finished our first lap the bell was rung for a $100 prime. As we rounded corner one I attacked and got a decent gap. I got into TT mode - not easily done on lap 2! - and crossed the line with maybe 5 seconds for the cash. A lap or two later Ashley attacked and Team BH's Kristen Meshberg went with her. They got a solid advantage on the field and held it for about 5 laps including nabbing another $100 prime which they agreed to split. A few more attacks were going and with many primes being offered the race was fairly quick. Joelle practiced her sprint by going for and getting two $100 primes during the race - her finishing kick is impressive. We were represented in most moves off the front including both Catherine and Ashley in break attempts. LVG put in a strong solo move to grab $200 mid race and Joelle put in a big effort to pull her back before things all came back together.
As we got down to maybe 5 laps to go I attacked once more and Debbie Dust came with me as well as one other rider. We were a bit disorganized and as we went through the finish a hard charging LVG came past us. We worked together for a bit but it was not to be and the field was soon back together. Admittedly I was feeling pretty tired! As we saw two laps to go a gamblers prime was called for $400 and BH's Madeleine put in a strong attack. No one went with her and it seemed like now was not the time to hesitate. Christy went to the front and tried to pull her back before I attempted to bridge up to her. Meshberg was on my wheel and as I got to Madeleine I sensed the entire field was with us. My legs were not feeling very snappy and I was just hoping I had a teammate lurking and ready to go for the big money. Unfortunately we were a bit out of position and former Chicago rider Jen Greenberg got the big money as we saw one lap to go.
Now our original plan was for me to attack with a half lap left to go so that Joelle could sit on wheels. I felt pretty bad that I couldn't get up there and put in the effort. On the back side I tried moving up on the left side but didn't have enough left in the tank. I knew that as the largest team there we should have been more organized with our last lap and attempting to lead Joelle out. The speed was fairly high but as we approached the final two corners things got a little squirrely. I was in a bad spot and couldn't get through traffic. I took a bad inside line on the last corner and got squeezed in a bit. I just hoped that Joelle was on the wheels she wanted to be on. I got out of the saddle to sprint but knew I was out of the money. I desperately tried to see what was going on at the front of the race and was ecstatic to hear the announcer call out Joelle as the winner!
What a race for Team Kenda!! An awesome result and an awesome effort by Joelle and the entire team. We raced well as a team and our aggressive racing style and numerous prime wins proved we were the dominant squad at the event. I feel like we did a lot of things really well but there are definitely some things for us to work on too. It was really fun to be racing with the team and executing some strategy throughout the race.
We cooled down a bit and then watched Joelle's podium ceremony which had LVG (in 2nd) helping show her how to properly open a bottle of champagne. She had no trouble knowing what to do after it was open though and sprayed her podium mates as well as anyone nearby!
Very cool to see the team represented on the top step and we headed to the fountain for a few photos afterward.
This upcoming weekend are some more Chicago area crits with two days of racing at Elk Grove. Should be a similar field as last weekend and Team Kenda will have pretty much the same crew - minus newly engaged Christy - congrats to her and Ben!!! Should be a fun weekend and a chance for us to continue to work on our tactics!
Thanks for reading!