I managed to take a day off work and head North for a day of racing Tour of America’s Dairyland (ToAD). This is the second time I’ve done a ToAD race, the last race being 2011 in Thiensville. With Beloit added as a stop this year and being a little over an hour from home, I thought it was a good fit for my schedule. While there were some scattered showers on the drive up, by the time I arrived and started warming up, it had stopped sprinkling. By race time, the sun was coming out, the winds were calm and the temperature was in the mid 70s. About as nice of conditions as you could hope for.
I scored a spot on the front row for the start and after receiving instructions we were off. The course is a five corner “L” shaped layout with four rights and one left. The last right leading onto the front stretch was a wide sweeping turn that sent you through almost a 180 turn, but had you returning a block over from the backstretch. The corners were all really wide open with plenty of room. I learned later that there was a crash in the last turn on the last lap, but had no idea at the time. I found myself behind the series leader early on, figuring that was probably a better place than most and decided to follow him for a bit. There were a couple of attacks that went up the road fairly early, but nothing stuck. With the corners being so wide open, the speeds stayed pretty high and every attack was brought back in short order. Early on, I also found myself briefly behind Sean McCarthy for the South Chicago Wheelman. Sean has come a long way in the few years that I’ve raced with him. Unfortunately for me, he has still not gotten big enough for me to draft off of. Remembering the futility of even trying to draft him on Wednesday nights at Pella had me quickly finding another wheel to follow.
About twenty minutes into the race I found myself third wheel coming across the line and heard the call of “Prime!” The field was fairly strung out at that point because the pace had been up for the lap prior. I was on a Michael’s Cycles rider’s wheel and moved into second wheel as the lead rider dropped off down the back stretch. Heading into the last corner, another Michael’s Cycles rider came up on my right with another of his teammates all the way to the inside. The first arriving Michael’s Cycles rider swung in front of me and it looked like their teammate was starting to dig to try to create a gap going into the last turn. With no teammates in the race, I figured I might be seeing a chance to have someone else’s teammates block for me. I came out of the last turn second wheel and with about a 150 yards to go swung out, put in a little effort and took the prime. I hadn’t really intended to go for the prime, but I was lucky to be in a good position at the end of the lap and thought, “What the hell.” I scored a $25 gift certificate to Beloit Bicycle Company, the local shop that was right on the course.
Most of the rest of the race was uneventful. I maintained good positioning in the waning laps of the race, only to find myself in the middle of the pack with no room to get out and move up going into the last turn. This is the area that I’m consistently finding I need to work on. I really have to make sure that I’m either inside or outside heading toward the last turn so that I at least have an opportunity to move up heading to the line at the end. I ended up taking 14th.
No wrecks for me, a prime, I got to hang out with Rob Curtis to watch some races and I got to talk briefly with Laura Van Gilder her teammate Laura Jorgensen and Jeannie Kuhajeck as Rob visited with them. It was a good day all around.