"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


And now for my next impression...

...Robbie Ventura at Downer's Grove, 2004!!!

OK, so not quite as fast as the National Championships, I'll allow that. But still, too fast for that last turn, nonetheless.

The Masters Men's 4/5 race at Bensonville, Superweek, kicked off about an hour late, after a long course set up delay, and a horrific crash following the Men's 4 Sprint.

In the field for xXx Racing was Bob Willems, Jeff Holland, and myself, among a total of 31 riders. We were doing 20 laps on the .8 mile course.

Two funky turns to deal with: one out of the parking lot to the back stretch of the course, and then the final corner, over a rain-gutter ramp and a manhole, back into the park. As well, even though the turn itself was 90 degrees, the course immediately chicaned to left, so your turn actually continued past a right angle.

We spent the first 10 laps or so at a leisurely pace, slowing bringing in a solo rider who'd escaped at the whistle. The headwind on the home stretch did more to reel him in than we did truth be told. A few half-hearted attacks started, and for a few laps, around 8 to go, it seemed we might get a break of about 6 off, but the tailwind quashed that effort. But the pace stayed pretty decent from then on out, and as each lap ticked down, I contemplated my planned attack.

Earlier, Jeff and I had planned to jump with around 10 to go, hopefully bringing with us WDT's Voytek Glinkowski, who would be protecting his series lead in the Masters 4/5 category. But the winds were preventing anything from getting off, as was the group of strong riders at the front chasing everything down. I was never more than 4 wheels back for the entire race.

But as the laps ticked down, that last turn seemed to be the best place to go...2nd or 3rd wheel could pace themselves behind the leader, and jump to the inside and go-go-go. I waited, and waited. Finally coming up on 1 to go and sitting second wheel, I made my move.

I jumped hard and came crashing through the line and past the clanging bell and screaming spectators. I looked behind...strung out, and gaps everywhere, but still relatively together. But I was committed. It was do or die now.

Out of the parking lot and onto the back stretch, I hammered in the tailwind to keep it single-file. Turn 3 was glass-smooth, yet I drifted left as gunned it for turn 4. I moved back over to get my line and stay first wheel, and nobody blocked me. The homestretch was mine for the taking as I banked left hard.

The last thing I remember before realizing that I was on the grass with a torn-skin suit was thinking, as I was hurtled towards a barrier, "oh shit!"

Too hot, too wide, and too much pressure in the tires were all likely factors. I think I must have over corrected on the chicane of the turn and lost my skipping front wheel. Immediately knew I was OK, but I banged my elbow pretty good (it's well trained this season at immediately swelling up), and my shoulder and left leg were missing some skin as well. I sat there, my max effort coming down in raspy breaths, as I saw the entire peleton pass me from the sideline for the second time in 2 weeks.

But unlike, Proctor, this was my doing, and ironically, I felt happy, regardless of the outcome this time. I'd crashed by pushing the limits, rather than leaving my fate up to somebody else who couldn't hold his line. And as such, thank god I didn't take anybody else out who was in contention for the podium.

The man on my wheel, Robert Ruggles of Hampshire Cycle took the win. Voytek, behind him, took 2nd. You do the math. Although Voytek did tell me he was gapped by avoiding my crash, there was small gap behind him, so another podium was pretty much guaranteed. Oh, if only I could have stayed up! The alternate universe version is playing in my head on a loop this morning, as one of those two comes past and then I grab his wheel in the headwind, coming around and throwing for a half-wheel win.

What could have been is now just fantasy however. Yet, also it's fuel for the rest of Superweek. The Belle of the Ball is up next for me. See you in Evanston.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

You had it, man. But, hey, that's bike racing. At least you are OK and ready to try again this weekend and next week.