"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


Blue Balls

Superweek began officially for the lower categories in Blue Island, IL last Saturday.

This 4-corner corner criterium has become somewhat of a staple for me in my three year amateur racing career. I believe my first year doing this race in 2007 was the inaugural event and I've been there every year since. That first year I crashed with 10 laps to go and then finished well behind the sprint in a giant 75 rider field. Last year was a middling 15th in the Master's 30+ 4/5 after watching a 4/5s race I'm not too I would've been all that competitive in. This year was definitely my best showing in this far southside race, despite a bit of bad tactics and the usual Superweek chaos.

The HTFU bracelet on my left wrist has ensured I will no longer sit out eligible races. The 4/5 race and the Master's 30+ 4/5 were back-to-back, so I was ensured of a vigorous day's work with 25 miles in the former, 20 miles in the latter race.

There were a lot of recognizable faces in both fields, includingDan Soloman (South Chicago Wheelmen) whom I podiumed with at the first Soldier Field race, and state masters 30+ champion Karl Schult (Capital Bicycle Racing).

The 4/5 race was very fast, with a lot of breaks, including a long one in the middle that flirted with some success. After a bit of "urging" on my part, the rest of the boys at the front finally gave Dan Cooper (MS Racing) and I some help and it was reeled in. Karl Schult soon countered in a dangerous move, but with only 5 laps to go, he lasted two laps before we came together.

I handled the last lap much better than in the past, but I was still a bit wary from past crashes on these last two corners. And coming through turn 4 I allowed a gap in the name of safety - needed to be more aggressive. They all made it through fine, the crash happened behind me, and the wind kept me from catching anyone, and I finished 8th.

I was happy with it considering, glad to have the top ten, and reinforce my sprint training. The top ten should help cement my pending upgrade.

Immediately after removing my race number to expose the Master's number beneath it, we were off again. The pace was a bit slower as many of us had just raced before. The pack stayed together entirely, with one or two half-hearted attacks not really getting any traction.

With three to go I was at the front, and looked back for teammates. I was ready to commit myself to lauch a leadout. A couple of hand signals later, Stocky and Michael Young were on and tempo was dialed in. Mike and I traded pulls through to the bell lap, and on the back stretch I was actually waiting to see if someone would try to jump in front of us. Our tempo approaching turn 3 was fast but not blistering, and with the remaining length to the line, a wheel in front of our train would still be welcome.

However, I remained in the wind. Then a change in plans - I glanced back before turn 4, ready to light the candle, and saw Dan Cooper on my wheel - no XXX jersey in sight. I paused through the turn hoping to get a wheel and sprint for myself. Then, chaos.

MS pulled through, I jumped to dig, and saw the ambulance, lights, hands waving, with whistles being blown. I sat up for a second, thinking we were neutralized, when 15 riders blew past immediately. Not neutralized. Shit. Oh well, how's that for a Superweek tradition? I certainly wasn't going to sprint for 20th in a single lane past a guy with a broken hip for a $10 check that would bounce.

The rest of the day was hot and muggy while we watch Chris Kinonen pull off a 4th place in the Master's 1/2/3 race. But we had to leave shortly after to avoid baking in the sun.

45 miles at race pace on the edge of my saddle had some painful consequences. I had to pee as soon as I got home and it felt as though I had a red hot catheter inserted up there. I dreaded using the toilet for the rest of the day, which was sheer terror as I tried to get rehydrated. Thankfully it subsided in time for the next day's 50K 2-man team time trial.

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