"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


Superweek: Kenosha Criterium

After my chagrined disappointment at Whitnall Park on Wednesday, William, Katy, and I headed back across the border for 2 more days of racing in Wisconsin. Up first was the long-running Kenosha “Folks and Spokes” Criterium, set in Library Park down by the harbor.

It was a simple .6 mile course with four corners and we were scheduled to do 50 laps around the Kenosha Library and YMCA, along 8th and 7th streets. While a fairly standard distance for a Superweek race, the format made for what seemed like an extraordinarily long race, although it was simply all the extra laps needed for the short course. A big party was set up on the lawn, and there were plenty of spectators enjoying the day.

There were 4 of us in the race, and with those numbers we ought to have been able to put some teamwork together. Unfortunately with the quick succession of corners, the competitive, squirrelly field, and numerous crashes, they weren’t really able to get up to the front through the swarming and bunching, and for much of the race I was on my own.

I did too much work chasing down almost every attack that seemed dangerous, although nothing stuck, including my own. A bright spot was to see William finally take a monster flyer and actually get off the front for about 5 laps with another rider. The first 25 laps seemed to take forever, but the 2nd half really went by quick. At one point I swore they were shaving laps on us, but my odometer confirmed our distance was legit afterwards. From then on it was alternately strung out and bunched as constant attacks went off and the tiring group chased them down.

With about 3 to go a textbook Ben’s Cycle leadout train, 5-deep, came together at the front. On the back of 2 to go, and unattached rider and I horned in on it and I got into pretty position. Which I of course screwed up.

The swarm came up on turns 1 and 2, and after nearly getting pinched on the back chicane of the bell lap, I found myself out of the top 10 wheels, once again before turn 3…and that’s pretty much how it stayed. I finished 17th behind an unattached rider in a Bianchi kit, and got a check that didn’t even cover my race fee.

The overcast skies cleared right after and it soon turned into a beautiful sunny afternoon. We ate some barbeque and watched a really competitive 3s race. Peter and JT got into a very promising break, but the field was moving so fast with 15 or so to go that only two of them really didn’t stand a chance.

It was so competitive, in fact, that on the final turn they came around nearly 8 wide and I saw one of the worst crashes I’ve ever witnessed. Not sure who it was but the rider at the far left either got bumped or was wrenching his bars so much that he lost his wheel and went down. Immediately there were bodies spinning out of control into and over the barriers like stock cars – a nightmarish physics lesson.

It was bad. Some were getting up, but there was at least one still lying there, and another crowd of people were clustering behind a barrier that had been knocked out of position. I didn’t see any black at first and though we at least made it through. But no one came around in the cool down lap, and it gave me a sinking feeling as I ran over to the scene. It got lower as I saw Peter, then Jacques standing there, and it bottomed out as the pair of feet I saw peeking around the barrier gave way to sweaty legs and then scraped, bloody XXX shorts. It was JT.

Katy soon joined me after I didn't come back to the bleachers with good news. Yet, JT seemed to be OK, but it was definitely scary to see them place the brace around his neck and lift him onto the board and into the back of the ambulance. He was lucky, he’d gone over the barrier. He had a chipped elbow, along with some cuts and rash. Another rider had hit it with his shoulder as though a linebacker would tackle a fullback. His collarbone was badly broken, or so we heard from another rider at the emergency room at the hospital that was literally next door to the course.

Our initial plan was to transfer our gear to Kirby’s car and head up to Milwaukee that night, but Kirby changed his mind and would be headed back to Chicago that night. He graciously loaned me his car so Katy and I could still make the Downer Avenue race the next day and spend the night with my cousin.

It was a comfortable, quiet end to a hard and noisy day, spent chatting over a Friday Fish Fry and a couple of beers.

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