Superweek - Blue Island and Elgin Race Recap:
Blue Island: When deciding my race schedule I almost skipped Blue Island. Some people complain that it is a “boring” rectangle crit. I decided the course, which almost a guarantees a large field spint, is what most Chicago area crits are about. Learning how to sprint and win out of a pack is a necessary skill in Chicago.
We start almost on time and get rolling for 25 one mile laps. I’ve raced here the past three years and knew exactly what to expect. The first few laps had some break attempts, but they never gained more than a few seconds on the field before being reeled back in. The racing continued that way until mile 13 when I made a jump. I had a few people come with, but they didn’t stay for long and I was out front alone. I had a decent gap and felt good so I committed to it and put my head down. The gap grew to nearly 20 seconds and I kept pushing. After 6 miles out front I saw that the pel was getting organized and I would be caught. With 5 laps left I backed off the pedals until I was caught. 15 minutes in a solo break, let’s see what’s left in the tank.
With 2 laps to go a South Chicago Wheelmen rider was on point and did an awesome job setting a good tempo. Usually there are people swarming to the front and then hitting the brakes, not wanting to do any work once they get there. He is setting a great pace and the pack is kept at bay. I’m sitting 2ndwheel coming into turn 3 on the final lap when the swarm finally came. I was pushed back to about 8thplace. Turn 4 I took an outside line as I hear pedals skidding across pavement to my inside. Thankfully I stay clear and look ahead to choose a wheel to follow. The riders ahead separate into a right and left group, so decided to go for daylight and shoot up the middle. I’ve been working on my sprinting and it felt great to actually pull ahead! I thought that I was clear, until I saw the wheel of Ernie C. closing and nip me at the line by about a wheel length.
Despite not winning, I was really happy with my performance. Soloing for 15 minutes and then having enough left to take 2ndin a sprint is nothing to be disappointed about. Well, it would have been nice to finally get a W, but I can tell that my form is improving and hopefully it will come soon.
I was riding well floating between 1stand 10thposition most of the race until the “back in” portion of divided road on lap 4. I took the left turn too fast and my wheel slid out. I had a bad feeling about that turn before the race, and now I know why. I ass and elbow skidded until running into the curb. I jumped up, worried that someone else would make the same mistake and run into me. I was a bit shell shocked and had trouble getting my chain back on until the SRAM support gave me a hand. Everything was in working order, so I decided to try to chase and finish strong. I chased for the final 5 mile lap but wasn’t able to make up ground.
During the last lap, after making my way past that same left hand turn, there was an equally questionable right corner that dipped into poorly patched asphalt. Off to the left of the street I saw a Tower Racer laying in the grass being attended to by medics. Coming into the final turn I saw 3 more people off to the left in the grass, taking stock of their wounds, and a bit farther up the road a Bicycle Heaven rider was shouldering his bike and walking away from the course. There must have been some real carnage on that last lap.
Give me a “boring” race on good roads any day over attempting to stage a race with questionable pavement and too narrow courses. Now I have to replace my shorts and jersey. Actually, I think I'll patch it up and wear it for the next few races until I end my road season. Why risk it with nice new stuff. Give me dirt and grass. Bring on Cyclocross season.
It's the first of our race recaps for the newly formed Iron Cycles Racing team. Thanks Tim for getting us going!