"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


A Soldier's Story

The Soldier Field Cycling Series debuted last night in the south parking lot of - yep, Soldier Field - and I would say was nearly an unqualified success.

The races started on time, and my field, at least, was sold out and filled up to the 75 rider max.

I knew there would be a lot of inexperienced riders out there, but also a full compliment of teammates - at least ten, an army, you might say - to help me get to the front and stay there. I could tell this would be a very important tactic in the race after seeing Turn 4 of the 8 corner course: it pinched narrowly after a wide, muddy pothole - that would obviously send riders into two lines - and would not be able to handle anything more than two wide. The rubber band effect would be worst coming into the long backstretch immediately after.

I almost didn't make it even that far - nearly going down twice at each of the opening corners. Swerving, braking riders in front and on both sides made protecting my wheel seem like playing three games of Wack-a-Mole at once. Safely through Turn 4 finally I was able to jump up to the front, found a spot at 3rd wheel, and pretty much stayed there.

XXX attacks went off seemingly every lap. Diddy Kong took a flyer, then Michael Young. He stayed off for a couple, then slowly started coming back. With 10 minutes to go, he was just about to be absorbed, and as we blocked, I jumped, hoping it wasn't too early, but didn't want the front of the field to be too recovered from previous chasing.

It worked and I got a decent gap, taking that next lap alone.

Coming through the start line I got company, an ABD rider who jumped past pretty hard at the sound of the prime bell. Gapped. He won $20.

Repeat the two of us for the next lap. I get a gap. Win $15. Unattached rider bridging up.

We're together, XXX Army blocking. We trade some pulls, but admittedly, I am not doing my share of the work. It is bike to work week, after all. Already having 40 miles under your legs, then finding your self in a break with two other gorillas is less than ideal.

(photo by Kevin W. Heeley)

On the backstretch before seeing two to go, Mark Watkins yells at us to get going: the pack is just 6 seconds behind. ABD wags, I pull to the line.


I get the better of myself and pull off hoping to get a wheel, but lack the pop to hop on ABD and Unattached's wheels when they jump. Dropped. In no-mans-land to fend off the hungry, quicky-approaching pack.

Completely redlined I pedal as quickly as I can and begin to close. Turn 8 I am almost there when they jump to sprint. Out of saddle to the line, with what feels like a bag of cinder blocks on my back, I throw just before I can get pipped out of the top three by MS Racing behind me. It was that close.

On the cooldown lap, I introduced myself to my breakmates, but the ABD rider surprisingly knew my name. "Adam," he told me, was Mr. Outside. He recognized me from Winfield Twilight and that race's report, and when he saw me go, he said he knew that was the move. And it was: Unattached (Illinois jersey) took the win and a Chipotle burrito prime, and Mr. Outside, Adam, was 2nd.

I look forward to racing with both those guys again. Hopefully soon in the 1/2/3s field.

Great course, if a little funky. Some turns were so wide as to be as dangerous as the very narrow Turn 4. New riders need guidance, and giving them full reign to turn as wide as they want is bound to cause much braking, swerving, and general consternation. But this is to be expected of a field with so many riders, and I want to extend my congrats to everyone who made this their first race. Scotty! You did it!

A great night all around, and congratulations to the promoters, as well! Well done. For us on the podium, there was no cash - except for the $15 prime - only a gift certificate, but that's OK. Pepsi Max podium girls!

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