The Course. If only all courses could be this hard and shit eating grin fun all at the same time. Half Acre and North Central Cyclery did an excellent job. A short starting straight right into a a hairpin turn, some short straights broken up by technical twists. A bit of pavement and then a sharp run up with 1 barrier. Then down the same up, off camber turn, which turned out to be much trickier during the later races during and after the rain. Some more technical sections including the toughest turn of the course where it severely narrowed and took sharp right around a small tree where the course was full of mulch. This corner degraded each lap and by the end required you to almost stop to get through without sliding out. Then onto the longest pavement section where you could just gun it. Then back into the grass. Some technical bumpy stuff and then a single barrier, left turn into the woods where is was wet and slow, a final pavement section, where you could gun it again, back onto the grass, some off camber turns and then through the straight. About 7 minutes at speed. One thing was for sure, the start was going to be crucial and the course was going to be fast and brutal. Alot of roots and alot of bumps.
The Start This time they broke up the 30 and 40/50+, so we started only with our group. Front row to the left which would put me in line to be on the outside of the first hairpin turn. I practiced 5 or 6 starts before and knew we could not hit that turn at full speed, so my plan was to make sure I just went fast, but not too fast and straight for the outside tape of the turn. Pete Rolewicz was to my left and Roman was to my right. Riders ready! Whistle and we're off. I'm good off the line and third into the turn. We go around, I looked back and we had very slight gap. Before I knew it, we were headed to the run up.
The Race The 2 in front of me simply rode me off their wheels. I could not hold their pace. I tried. I didn't see them again. Midway through the 2nd lap Pete came around me, so now I'm 4th. As we're winding around I can Roman and a rider in red coming on strong. They both catch me. The rider in red is in front of me, Roman behind. We're working our way through the 30+ now. Red dabs in the-corner-around-the-tree-with-the mulch and we get by him, hit the pavement and Roman yells "Go Jim!" and it's full gas on the pavement. We can see Pete ahead of us and we're gaining ever so slightly. Back through the start, then through the run up and we see Pete go down in the same corner. We ask if he's o.k. and he said he thought he broke his finger/hand. I hope not, anyone hear anything?
On the start of the 4th lap we get 3 to go. Roman and I are together, trading pulls. Just before the start of 2 to go Wayne Simon from the 50+ came around, I tried to hold his wheel, which I did for about a minute and then he was gone. Behind us I can see a group of 3 a few turns behind us, not really gaining on us, but not going away either. With 1 to go, I just drilled it, everything I had left.
The result. On the podium and in the money ($30)! 3rd in the 40+.
Before the season my goals were to be top 10 and to not get lapped. After 9th at Jackson Park, the podium was the goal.
Photos: Courtesy of Carolyn at Velosnaps.