Monsters of the Midway
I really enjoy this race. With half mile straight-aways on the front and back side with about 100 yards separating turn 2 from turn 1 and 4 from 3, the pace is generally really fast. Saturday was no exception in several ways. The pace was fast as normal, the rear of the field inevitably stacked up because some would slow going into the corners, and people would call out a significant bump on the back straight every lap. The braking isn’t necessary because the corners are wide open and the hole on the back straight hasn’t moved since I did my first race on the Midway Plaisance five years ago. Quick history lesson, this venue is pretty cool from a historical perspective. The Midway Plaisance was built as a grand entryway for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A lot of the credit for the design of the Plaisance goes to Frederick Olmstead who also designed Central Park in New York.
Back to racing. It was a perfect day for racing, unlike most seen in May for the Chicagoland. Temperatures were mid 70s with a very week wind out of the WSW. Usually I found it to significantly windier and this is the first time I can remember there being a tail-wind for the finishing straight. I’d picked out a couple of guys that I was going to follow if they went and skated around the pack most of the race. One of the riders that I picked to follow around a bit is Josh Shough from the Chicago Cuttin’ Crew. He is the husband of PSIMET teammate Molly Shough and I’ve ridden with him on a training ride or two and in some races on the road and in cross. Unfortunately, Josh got caught up in a crash on the back straight coming out of turn 2, about 27 minutes into the race. Like any good opportunistic pack does, the pace quickened on the back straight and having pushed to catch back up I was glad to see the pace moderate a bit as we came onto the front stretch. I found myself behind Ryan Giuliano from Sammy’s and followed him for the next lap an a half as we received the notice for 4 and then 3 to go. On the back straight, Ryan G. made a move and I followed. After a decent push we caught and passed a rider attempting to bridge to a Team Got Wind? rider who was up the road a bit. Our surge caught the lead rider and that’s where I made a mistake. Initially, it looked like Ryan G. was going to roll onto the TGW wheel and establish a 3 man break that I was envisioning. Ryan G. actually ended up swinging back out and putting another surge on and increasing the gap. I was indecisive and found myself in no man’s land about 15 yards back by myself. I didn’t thin a two man break was going to make it for the final two and a half laps and ended up rolling back into the pack. After thinking about it more, I believe I made the right evaluation but given the chance again I would have worked to establish the two man break to see what would happen. Live and learn. I ended up finishing in 19th.
Wash, rinse, repeat… The 4/5 race is back to back with the Cat 4 race. This race was pretty uneventful. There was a two man break of John Polmochak of Region Racing and Nathan Bridges of Bloomington Cycle racing established with about 5 to go that did end up sticking. I thought it wouldn’t work because of the number of laps left, but eventually either everyone forgot about the break or didn’t have enough interest in reeling them back in. Nathan Schneeberger from Johnny Sprockets took third in a field sprint. I’m happy for him because he is a really nice guy, a heck of a photographer (you may recognize his work at SnowyMountain) and semi-regular training partner in the Fall on our Tuesday night group CX rides. I ended up at the tail end of the pack in this race. I compounded some bad positioning choices on the back straight for the bell lap by hitting the hole. My bars rotated down and caused my brakes to rub pretty significantly. I didn’t realize it at the time, but does help explain why my legs suddenly felt like molasses with a half lap to go. I ended up cramping my right calf coming out of turn three and eased in to the finish, shedding positions the whole way. I ended up in 35th.