Category: Crit (page 4 of 4)

Chicago Crit: First Race Report

First race report.

So around a week ago Dean sends out an email taunting the group to jump into the Chicago Criterium and ‘race a crit’. Hmmm, I thought, what’s a crit? I vaguely remembered it being an angry swarm of biking bees buzzing through turns, bumping and banging and boldly sprinting to Cat 5 glory. Sounds like fun! So I politely enquire: Will there will be sponsors? Check! A team tent? Check! With umbrellas and quaint little fold-away armchairs for aching legs? Check! Screaming from the sidelines for someone they hardly know? Check! Free Spidermonkey Cycling T-shirts? Check! Pom-poms? Check! Wow, what more can a guy ask for? So I thought, hell-yeah, sign me up. This will be fun.

I checked out the website and it looked like a really nice course with wide corners and flat straight-aways; perfect for hill-challenged mid-west riders. I was guessing that with corners this wide it would be a lot less dangerous than some of the other crit corners I had seen. BK Stacker in Evanston comes to mind. A friend just cracked three ribs, folded a Zip 404 and cracked a carbon frame there the weekend before. I also remember seeing a terrible pile up on You-Tube at one of the local crits so Chicago seemed a safer candidate to do my first race. Now all I had to do was to figure out what the hell I was in for and how to prepare.

My research into crits dug up gems like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfs55TB9srg and quotes like: “Cat 5 is psycho; filled with guys who can go around corners and those that cannot”, “It started so much faster than I thought”, “You’re bound to get dropped”, “People will bump you and take you out”, “Cat 5 averages about 26 mph”… Not one actually told me how to prepare for a crit when you have one week to do it in! Fortunately mother nature worked this little conundrum out on my behalf: When I awoke on Monday I found myself the recipient of a perfectly engineered, yet searing sore throat which pirouetted itself around my tonsils and finally settled into a slow waltzing cold. I was not happy. The first time I got on the bike was Thursday and it was not a pretty sight. Saturday’s HP ride was nice and gentle and the legs were feeling much better. By now you are thinking, c’mon, get the excuses out of the way. And you’re right, I could have called it off but Dean and our 312 sponsors performed such heroics to get us all into an already over-subscribed field that I just felt like I couldn’t let him down. So, always being the one to learn a lesson by bumping one’s head on life, I jumped into the deep end.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought….for the first 5 laps! Fortunately I didn’t have any nerves to deal with at the start. I’d been in races before; although I usually had a full steel exterior, roll cage, safety harnesses, fire extinguisher and 300 hp of Porsche’s finest under my foot and brakes like the hands of god where I could dive three wide into a corner at 140 mph and feel relatively safe. Here I was sitting on a piece of Canadian carbon fiber with about ¼ of a hp under both feet (note to self: need to upgrade the motor), 100 calories of gel tucked into my shorts and absolutely nothing to protect my knees, shins and collar bone from meeting the pavement. I was concerned…especially about the corners and people dive bombing into them. Fortunately Bryan and Andy were kind enough to give me a bunch of tips about following the wheel in front of you, calling out to let people know that you are there (yes, this works) and some other secret sauce which, sadly I must report, I couldn’t figure out but they certainly have.

The start was really pretty ordinary – about 25-26mph. I had expected a sprint to over 30. I followed Bryan’s wheel (get behind the tallest guy I thought) and was in about 5th place for the first couple of laps settling in and thinking this was ok. The turns were very safe and no one did anything dumb. I was comforted by an easy back-and-forth “caw-caw-ing” of Spidermonkeys all around me and even ventured a thought of the calm of the jungle and perhaps a hammock swaying in the breeze. And even though my Spidermonkey kit had not come in I still felt part of the team. These guys are truly great to ride with. Andy even came alongside during the race and mentioned that he was there which was great. Now I had remembered some sage wisdom saying that you should stick to the front 3rd of the group if you can and I was pulling it off pretty well when all of a sudden I fell out of the hammock and got a little piña colada dribble down my chin. You see, coming out of the chicane I smartly took an inside line and hit a raised piece of asphalt which got the bike sideways a bit and surprised the 312 out of me. Slowing down to recover I let a bunch of people by and consequently selected the wrong gear for the little ramp. The bees swarmed. Suddenly I was in the rear of the pack and the accordion effect (constant slowing and accelerating out of corners) had its way with my quads. I retaliated by unleashing my ¼ hp relentlessly, corner after corner, but alas, I spent the rest of the race trying to hang on to the back. And with 3 to go I’m sad to say…I got dropped. Every cyclist hates, despises and fears this little word. But every time I’ve been dropped I’ve come back harder and stronger. So I will be back for more (in two weeks at Glencoe). The Spidermonkey team had convinced me that this is a whole lot of fun and the team camaraderie impossible to beat! It also doesn’t hurt to have an incredible sponsor in 312!

Special thanks to Dean and Vanessa for their tireless leadership and smiles and to Bryan and Andy and John for their guidance, counsel and moral support. You guys are the best!

Tristan

PS. 1/4 hp is about 186 watts or about 6,695,999,999,900 erg/hour … and one erg is about the amount of energy a fly uses during one push up.

A Sunday in the City: Chicago Crit Cat 5b

Sunday morning started early, an 810 am race start meant a 530 am wake up, not to much fun. The tough morning was the only down part of the day, the Chicago Crit was an excellent event. The Cat 5 Race Heat 2 was full of Spidermonkeys, a total of 6, and we were going to make our presence known. We were the first guys on the start line which made getting to the front on the start pretty easy. To start the race off I clipped in effectively, something that doesn’t always happen. From the start Todd went to the front, Bryan Witry, John Castro and I joined up towards the front, the 4 of us stayed in the top 10 for the first 5 laps, there was a guy from Pegasus who helped set the tempo as well. I was on the front for about half a lap, and the field was under control, with the wicked tempo being laid out by Todd there were not a lot of attacks, and the few that did happen were pulled back quick.
The team did a great job of staying together, and since we all decided to try to help Bryan, my job was to stay around Bryan and keep him near the front. Occasionally I would go to the front and set some tempo with Todd. It was a fun job and I was happy to be able to stay at the front of a race group, I usually dangle at the start of each race, that was the case in the Chicago Crit. By staying up front the team saved a ton of energy, up in the front we didn’t have to chase out of the corners. Not to mention I heard the announcer say “spidermonkeys” a lot, usually a sign that the team is having a good race, and dean even went on stage to predict the winners.
On the third to last lap I almost got slammed into the cage on the inside of turn 3, I think I tried to take a little too tight, I avoided the wheel in front of me and made it through keeping the rubber side down, it was pretty close.
The next two laps passed quick and I regained my position in the pack, coming into the last lap the team went to the front, we came up on the right and started to assemble our lead train, just the way we planned. Castro took us down the front stretch and through the first turn, it was a blistering pace, I had to work pretty hard just to hang on, Todd came over Castro at the first short up hill, I sat second wheel and Bryan sat third wheel, the lead out train was in tact going into the back stretch. Half way down the back stretch I came over Todd to try to up the tempo once again. I was suppose to wait to attack until the hill, but I felt I needed to start it earlier to string out the large pack behind me. I pulled as hard as I could through the third turn on to the back hill. As I watched the pack go up the hill I got out of my saddle and gave it everything I had to try to hold onto the group, I was successful enough to grab mid pack position. Todd gave Bryan a lead out as I watched from mid pack, I passed two guys out of turn four and one or two more on the way to the finish line to grab 20th. Not terrible, but when you sit at the front for the whole race it kind of sucks to finish mid pack. But we got a top five and we represented spidermonkeys well. I was really proud of our team effort! I really enjoyed racing with the Cat 5 team on Sunday, thanks guys. Now its time to upgrade and start the whole process over again, Elk Grove starts my 4’s career next weekend.
Great day in general for the spidermonkeys!

Things I Did Well:
1) Raced at the front of the pack
2) Made a move to try to spring bryan for the sprint

Things I need to work on:
1) Sprinting
2) Timing my move better

Shake and Bake –
Andrew

Soldier Field Criterium #1 – June 17

After mentally and nutritionally getting prepared for the race all day, I still wasn’t registered when I left work around 5pm. I was nervous because my knee was bothering me for the last couple of weeks and I had to take a week off the bike, besides this was going to be my first race of the real season.

Once I got to the race area, the first thing Andrew asked me was if I was registered. ‘Of course, no’, then he said ‘they are already full’. Well, good news for me; I was really nervous, wasn’t sure if I was ready to race and didn’t know if I wanted to do this. I put my name on the waitlist and went to ride off the Lake Front with Big John. We got back and almost all of the team was there, so many people were registered getting ready for their races, this made me ‘wanna race!’, but I still had time to hear from that waitlist. So we went to warm-up at Northerly Island. It was less than fifteen minutes before the start, when they told me I was in and hand me out my bib-number. After a couple laps on the race course we were in line for the start.


I was in the second row just behind Dan at the start, after the start I was probably fifth or sixth wheel. However I lost ground so quick, after the first couple laps I was riding in the midpack, considering a pack of 75 riders that wasn’t really good. My weakness was the turns, I’m not quite sure if I was trying to take the wrong line on the turns or slowing down too much or what else? But I know ‘more the turns are, the worse the race is for me’. Halfway into the race I was at the back of the big bunch probably 30-40 riders in front of me. I was able to gain position on the beck stretch but then lost it in the last two turns before the finish. Once I was riding in the drops on the final stretch and couldn’t handle the bike quite well into the first turn and ended up taking it unnecessarily wide and lost a few seconds. Another poor cornering was happened in turn five somehow I exit the ~180 turn really wide, people behind me (people I passed on the back stretch) passed me on my left, where I should be riding, even worse; I was too fast and too inside for the last turn, so I slowed down more going into turn 6, let a couple riders pass me. All these bad cornering made me work harder on the straight portions of the race, I was strong enough to hold on to the main pack as every other team member was getting droped, but due to poor handling I couldn’t do better than the back of the main pack. I believe I finished somewhere around 20th.


All the people cheering up for me; that definitely helped, a lot. I felt lot stronger when I heard Vanessa, Bryan, Nate, Mike, Dean and those others I couldn’t remember now, yelling my name. Thanks a lot guys and it wouldn’t be such fun without you around.

Not racing for three and a half months, taking a week off the bike recently, skipping a lot of weekend training, I cannot complain about how I finished the race, also my first race of ‘09 as a Spidermonkey.

Sherman Park Criterium, 6/14/08
Race #8

4th place/50

xXx AthletiCo did a great job, from what I can tell. I was (and still am) pissed about my result but my prize was by far the nicest trophy I have ever won for anything. Thanks, guys! Trophies like this make it easier to justify so much time and compulsive training on the bike to non-racers, people like my wife.

I really didn’t care about going for a result in this race until it started. These last two weeks I have been tired, bordering on exhausted or suffering from possible burn-out. Instead of obsessing with riding, I had been trying to focus on the end of school (I’m a teacher) and being responsible there rather than preoccupied with my rather serious whims on the bike. Shirking my responsibilities for the bike must be mediated by some kind of maturity.

So, I spent little time on the bike and it felt pretty damn good.

Report:
This was by far the sketchiest race I have entered. Iowa had crushing wind causing people to loose their line, today many riders just couldn’t hold their line. I was in midpack and in the back for most of the race so I saw nearly everything bad happen. I also got to quickly identify the nuts I should keep behind me and then moved to the front half as the race progressed.

The course was a ~1 mile loop around Sherman Park at 55th and Racine. Nice park. Built in the same era as Humboldt park with separate changing rooms for men and women on either end of the park pool. Several Spartan cement pedestrian bridges linked the pool area with the playing fields banked by the park’s lagoon. The course was a closed park drive that circles the lagoon, with a slight downhill start and a slight uphill final 50m to the finish. There were no corners and just a few minor spots of rough pavement. The soft edge of the course caused a few close calls and the drenching rain we’ve had put a bit of mud in my eye. All in all a nice course, I’d rate it 8/10.

Short version: The race was not eventful. There were a few attacks, none stuck. From midpack I kept an eye on any breaks and they were all 1 or 2 riders and were eventually sucked back in. I felt pretty strong and with 10 min to go, I was confident I could earn a place. With two to go I was quite sure I could get a podium at least, on the bell lap I got caught out front and lost the sprint for 2nd and got toasted at the line for 3rd. I placed 4th and got a damn nice trophy for the effort.

Nice shot of Grant throwing the bike for 2nd and me about to finish 4th. After closely examining the photographic evidence, Grant must have been moving at light speed because he was pretty far behind me in the previous shot and then is more than a length in front in this one. I must have been more dead than I thought. (Thanks to Luke for taking a perfect finish line shot!)

So the last lap is all that really matters for me. As the bell rang, I was 3rd wheel crossing the line and before I knew it I was on the front. Fuck. I pulled off and grabbed 2nd wheel (perhaps I should have dropped back a few more, but I was concerned that everyone would have been too guarded). This guy was on the front for like 2 seconds, so I’m on the front again. Fuck.

Now my options were jump and go for it/try to hold ‘em off for 1k; not pull and hold for a bunch sprint; pull off and see what happens. I did the stupid thing: stayed on the front and didn’t do anything. I let the pace drop just a bit, but then nothing. The winning move came from a xXx rider who jumped at 200m and pulled away so damn strong and smooth that even as the race was happening I couldn’t help but admire it. It was so strong decisive that I knew it was the win. I tried to jump on his wheel but didn’t really “try” to jump it, I just accelerated a bit and held a higher pace but not enough to keep with him. Looking back, I think I had the strength; I didn’t have the — I dunno, the blood lust, I guess. With 75m to go I jumped and thought I could hold for 2nd but at ~50m Grant (xXx) came around my outside. I was not holding my line too well because I was reaching my limit and we bumped shoulders while sprinting out of the saddle, but not badly enough to knock him off his momentum (congrats Grant!). I came into his lane and after the race joked that it was because I saw him coming around. That was not true, and not funny–though I didn’t realized it until I was riding home later on. That shit can be dangerous. I didn’t do it intentionally. Another xxx rider who was way on the inside took 3rd, we both threw the bike, he won the throw. (edit: he had me by a wheel, at least…damn. Two Half Acre guys were watching the finish (thanks for the beer!!) and one had me for 3rd, the other 4th. I guess it was pretty close.)

Once again, I was the lead out man for 2nd. I’m starting to feel like the horse that xXx rides in on.

Sherman Park Criterium, 6/14/08
Race #8

4th place/50

xXx AthletiCo did a great job, from what I can tell. I was (and still am) pissed about my result but my prize was by far the nicest trophy I have ever won for anything. Thanks, guys! Trophies like this make it easier to justify so much time and compulsive training on the bike to non-racers, people like my wife.

I really didn’t care about going for a result in this race until it started. These last two weeks I have been tired, bordering on exhausted or suffering from possible burn-out. Instead of obsessing with riding, I had been trying to focus on the end of school (I’m a teacher) and being responsible there rather than preoccupied with my rather serious whims on the bike. Shirking my responsibilities for the bike must be mediated by some kind of maturity.

So, I spent little time on the bike and it felt pretty damn good.

Report:
This was by far the sketchiest race I have entered. Iowa had crushing wind causing people to loose their line, today many riders just couldn’t hold their line. I was in midpack and in the back for most of the race so I saw nearly everything bad happen. I also got to quickly identify the nuts I should keep behind me and then moved to the front half as the race progressed.

The course was a ~1 mile loop around Sherman Park at 55th and Racine. Nice park. Built in the same era as Humboldt park with separate changing rooms for men and women on either end of the park pool. Several Spartan cement pedestrian bridges linked the pool area with the playing fields banked by the park’s lagoon. The course was a closed park drive that circles the lagoon, with a slight downhill start and a slight uphill final 50m to the finish. There were no corners and just a few minor spots of rough pavement. The soft edge of the course caused a few close calls and the drenching rain we’ve had put a bit of mud in my eye. All in all a nice course, I’d rate it 8/10.

Short version: The race was not eventful. There were a few attacks, none stuck. From midpack I kept an eye on any breaks and they were all 1 or 2 riders and were eventually sucked back in. I felt pretty strong and with 10 min to go, I was confident I could earn a place. With two to go I was quite sure I could get a podium at least, on the bell lap I got caught out front and lost the sprint for 2nd and got toasted at the line for 3rd. I placed 4th and got a damn nice trophy for the effort.

Nice shot of Grant throwing the bike for 2nd and me about to finish 4th. After closely examining the photographic evidence, Grant must have been moving at light speed because he was pretty far behind me in the previous shot and then is more than a length in front in this one. I must have been more dead than I thought. (Thanks to Luke for taking a perfect finish line shot!)

So the last lap is all that really matters for me. As the bell rang, I was 3rd wheel crossing the line and before I knew it I was on the front. Fuck. I pulled off and grabbed 2nd wheel (perhaps I should have dropped back a few more, but I was concerned that everyone would have been too guarded). This guy was on the front for like 2 seconds, so I’m on the front again. Fuck.

Now my options were jump and go for it/try to hold ‘em off for 1k; not pull and hold for a bunch sprint; pull off and see what happens. I did the stupid thing: stayed on the front and didn’t do anything. I let the pace drop just a bit, but then nothing. The winning move came from a xXx rider who jumped at 200m and pulled away so damn strong and smooth that even as the race was happening I couldn’t help but admire it. It was so strong decisive that I knew it was the win. I tried to jump on his wheel but didn’t really “try” to jump it, I just accelerated a bit and held a higher pace but not enough to keep with him. Looking back, I think I had the strength; I didn’t have the — I dunno, the blood lust, I guess. With 75m to go I jumped and thought I could hold for 2nd but at ~50m Grant (xXx) came around my outside. I was not holding my line too well because I was reaching my limit and we bumped shoulders while sprinting out of the saddle, but not badly enough to knock him off his momentum (congrats Grant!). I came into his lane and after the race joked that it was because I saw him coming around. That was not true, and not funny–though I didn’t realized it until I was riding home later on. That shit can be dangerous. I didn’t do it intentionally. Another xxx rider who was way on the inside took 3rd, we both threw the bike, he won the throw. (edit: he had me by a wheel, at least…damn. Two Half Acre guys were watching the finish (thanks for the beer!!) and one had me for 3rd, the other 4th. I guess it was pretty close.)

Once again, I was the lead out man for 2nd. I’m starting to feel like the horse that xXx rides in on.

Newer posts
 
 
  Goose Island Chicago Abt Electronics THINK B!G Turner Acceptance Corp Uniersal Sole Vision Quest Coaching
 

© 2019 Spidermonkey Cycling