"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Fake Racin'

Last night I drove down with xXx teammate Jeff Holland to Matteson, IL to race the South Chicago Wheelmen's training criterium series. What an incredible evening it was.

From 6pm until dusk A and B teams race around the Ace Hardware paint factory out there, on a smooth oval "track". $7 gets you three races, and thetr are cumulative points for the evening, and overall the night counts towards your USCF upgrade. There is no faster, easier way to gain experience and points towards your upgrade. I mean, 3 weekends of racing experience in 90 minutes? How could you pass this up.

There were 5 of us racing in the B's, which is the equivalent of Category 4 and 5. Maybe less. The first race was only ten laps and it was over before I knew it. I think I managed a top 5 finish on that one, but overall the whole night was a bit of an oxygen deprived blur.

The next race was the longest, with 25 laps. One teammate, Nick, crashed on the 2nd or 3rd lap, almost taking out 2 others, including me. But instead of heading into the fence, I stayed loose and recovered my line and came out of the turn strong. I took a 4th place on the sprint in that race, and got confused at the end. If you are too close to the A's race, which leaves 30 seconds before, they will call our race with 2 laps to go. So the last lap, what I thought was 3 to go, I broke away and attacked, thinking it was prime. I was the only xXx-er going, as Nick was out, and Terry and Eric had been dropped. My goal was drive the pace early in the lap, and then let them sprint for the points, while I recovered, then attack again just after the sprint. Well, the race ended, on what I thought was the end of the 3 to go, and I was still in pretty good position, but sandbagging. Had I kept my head out of my ass, I could definitely have pulled a 1st place on that one.

The last race was a great showing by the team, and the most race of the night. 20 laps, and Nick had a new rear wheel on, and Eric and Terry were back on. Immediately Nick jumped out to a huge lead. On the home stretch of the first lap, I let off a ridiculous flyer into the wind, smiling as I heard "whoa!" and "there he goes" from the pack as I blew past them all on the inside. I was gaining ground on Nick and caught him just after the first turn, and slid right in front of him. By the 2nd turn, Eric and his friend Allen were with us, and we worked the breakaway with a four man paceline for about 3 or 4 laps. By time the front of the pack caught us, they broken up over 2 lengths. I sat in for another couple of laps, until it was time for the sprint. I hammered into the wind again, up to the front where Nick was pulling the pack behind a small breakaway. I said to take my wheel and I'd give him a leadout. I bridged Nick, and I guess the pack, up to the breakaway, and then sucked wheel all the way to the wind stretch. Right on schedule, the Mack rider slowed, I hit it and took the turn as fast as I dared into the home stretch, and Nick blew past me like a bullet. I sprinted as hard as I could, and then heard a "whoop!" behind me from Eric. "One, two, three, baby! Good work guys!"

The last ten laps are completely foggy, but we spent a lot of time at the front, attacking and pulling and driving the pace, trying to tire the pack out. The most brilliant move of the night came heading into the last lap. I'd been pulling for the last two lengths, and just after the last turn, the girl who'd been sitting in the whole night, not taking a single pull, suddenly flew past all of us and opened up what turned to the be the winning break. It was a dumb move to pull so late, and got a very late jump to try and catch her. Truth be told I thought she'd crack the way she was moving so fast and I'd catch her by the 3rd turn. But I wasn't gaining nearly as fast as I needed to and it would be apparent I need to sprint far longer than I had the legs to catch up. So I hammered it out, fading very fast, and lost several places.

But I still got points for the two sprints, and that was enough for a top 5 finish for the night. I think I'm going to save that bottle of Gatorade I won.

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