Tag: chicago cycling

Chicago Criterium presented by…

Sad news from the western front as the Mayor’s Office of Special Events failed to include the Chicago Criterium on its 2010 calender. However, this leaves the oppurtunity for a title sponsor to step up… Might I suggest a Chicago based one:

Euro Pro Appreciation Day

As the leaves continue to turn and the ride to HP starts to resemble that of a Fall Classic, don’t be warded off from a ride just because of the weather. Don’t forget that Euro Pros attack in weather that makes this morning’s forecast seem like a Family vacation at Myrtle Beach. In an effort to honor the Euro Pros, Andy and I paid om age in subtle ways this morning on our two man time trial to HP.

We decided to do the ride without fenders because sectors on Paris-Roubaix would frown upon not embracing the wetness. My ‘No wet bum’ policy was certainly out the window. Saddles bags were definitely out the door. Carrying your flat kit in a bag in your back pocket is so Euro, saddle bags are for domestics. The first bottle was filled with Malto and the second with Green. Shots of espresso before the ride and Pelligrino at the half-way break.

The weather, albeit wet, dark and dreary…was surprisingly tolerable. Making sure your kit still matches in inclimate conditions is very Euro. Clashing gloves would be laughed at the 300th km at San Remo. Today, paying respects to Euros even stretched to us mumbling Flemish as cars passed in what we considered to be ‘espaxio ou contento‘.

Next time the weather turns bad, just remember the Euro Pros and throw your leg over the top tube and GO RIDE!!

To Skin Suit or Not to Skin Suit, That is the Question

As rain poured down tonight and the reality of summer’s ending settled in, I realized the race calender had only one remaining race-dot. For a roadie like myself, the Fall Fling signals the end is no longer near, but present. No Monkeys raced in last weekend’s road race and crit…but this Saturday’s Time Trial has attracted a few riders in search of a Skin Suit. (I capitalize Skin Suit in order to not inadvertently discount its formal nature). Yet not as a Pirate is in search of treasure for spoil, these riders in search of a Skin Suit have deeper intentions. I behold: The Skin Suit Challenge…

Discipline: Individual Time Trial in B.F. Egypt
Distance: 12.5km (7.75 miles)

Contestant 1: Dean Okun (SpiderMonkey Cycling)
C1 Bike: Pegoretti
C1 Aerobars: No
C1 Wheels: Deep Dish
Kansas University Alum: `86

Contestant 2: Andrew Zens (SpiderMonkey Cycling)
C2 Bike: Madone-sweet discovery logos too
C2 Aerobars: No
C2 Wheels: Non-Deep Dish
Kansas University Alum: `07

The moonshine lit juvenile quarrels involving story telling and gentlemen bets led to this very challenge: loser wears the long-sleeve SpiderMonkey Skin Suit to the end of the year Formal (did I forget the humiliation factor?). Andrew heads out of the gate 60 seconds before Dean with a racer half-way in between. Both riders have declined comment on whether they will be wearing a time trial helmet.

At about 20 mph for 60 secs Andrew should have about 500 meters on Dean. The wind will play a definite factor as well as cornering ability. Weather could be bad so I assume both will race with virtually no skin on their body getting air during the race; something they haven’t done since Super Spring Crit in Beloit.

I wish I could say that the the coverage starts at 10am with Paul and Phil then onto the sweet shots of the team buses with Ben Stiller breaking time trial bikes and guys with ice vests drilling it on the trainer, but I can’t. However, Andrew and Dean will be rockin’ an iPod on respective Cyclops’ having a Zym under the 312 tent while I enjoy a few 312s myself…

Something tells me they will be joking when they start warming up and then the reality of the Skin Suit sets in.


3/4 National Championship

Today was the USA Cycling National Championship criterium race in Downers Grove, IL. The course was a textbook technical crit with 8 corners, a climb, and a beautiful Chicago Suburb setting. All the major players showed up for the 3/4 race slotted for 45 min + 1. Rider registration didn’t hit the maximum, but 153 racers creates a sweeping spectacle that stretched from turn-to-turn.

With a technical course and fieldsize like today’s, a good starting position is imperative; I slotted myself near the course entrance with 20 min left in the previous race. They called us to the line and I managed to be in the front on the left-side. Theeeeeeeeen the official dictates a mandatory pre-lap before we start. Some riders bitched and attempted to refute the officials request–I didn’t want to sacrifice my good position, so I followed suit–and watched a herd of riders start to take their lap. After a not-so-pleasant exchange with the official, we were forced to take our lap and boom, i was in the back row of the start…..brutal.

With my recent upgrade to the 4s, I was apprehensive about testing the waters of the Cat 3s. But a fellow JJPeppers fan and recent Glencoe Grad Prix Masters 1/2/3 winner Jason K (Burnham Racing) was nice enough to give me some words of encouragement at the beginning of the race near the Port-a-John: “I’m gonna work your ass today”

The pace started fast and the war of attrition began on lap 1, riders were constantly being dropped. I did everything I could to move up on the climbs, take a few spots on the descent, grab a wheel during the front stretch, and it just wasn’t enough. I was dangling off the back of the pack or chasing to catch a wheel after every burst that came from the front.

When the announcer proclaimed ‘8 to go,’ you could feel the group turn on the jets. As I crested the climb with 7 to go, I couldn’t match the intensity of the group, POP, and proceeded to get the ‘we’ll see ya’ sign from the official and watched the final laps from the sideline of turn 8. When all things were said and done, I had survived the war of attrition better than half of the field…when i got dropped it looked like only 60-70 riders were with the group.

The cheering section rocked, as always. Andy, Trent, Jake, Keith, Keith’s wifey, Katie, what appeared to be some older father figure looking dude with Katie (i don’t know, i was dying out there), Chip, and Ken’s wifey: THANKS!!!!

Dan Pollard, John Lyon, and Ken Mitchell all gave valiant efforts. Jordan Ross managed to stay with and finish with the group, hell yea.

Until next time, I love bike racing…
-Bryan Witry

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 –

Chicago Criterium Cat 5-Race Report

Todd Kaiser, Andrew Zens, JPCastro, Tristan Whitehead, Samuel Winn, Josh and I (Bryan Witry) clipped in at 8:10 for the Cat 5 race and weren’t heading out for a Sunday stroll on a beautiful Chicago morning. The team looked remarkably focused as we sat in the sweet new 312 tent and pinned our numbers on our jerseys. The plan was to control the race and set up a train for the final sprint, I was the Monkey to reap the benefits of an all out Shake and Bake.

Todd set the tone at the top with monstrous pulls and traded duties with a few riders; he would remain near the front the entire race. I was shepherded around the top 8 of the pack the entire race by Andy. Truly selfless performances by the both. The race was crash free, everybody loves a safe race. But everybody also loves the entire team in the front of the race! I saw every Monkey in the front 10 in the first few laps. Actions like those really set the tone of the group. Sam, Castro, Tristan, and Josh all had smiles on their faces when they were zipping around Michigan Ave listening to the back-side announcer constantly mention Spidermonkeys (I couldn’t see Andy and Todd because they were in front of me the whole race, probably smiling though).

No primes…. total crap…. at least throw us a friggin’ water bottle, right?!

As we slammed down the front stretch with one lap to go, everything seemed to fall into place. Castro came scorching by and everybody followed suit. It was as if Merril was starting the fast section of the Wednesday night ride and everybody fell into a perfect line. JPC pulled hard and immediately 5 Monkeys were in the top of a strung out field. He peeled off and said something like (I’m spent/tired/dying?) and I laughed to myself because I couldn’t get over how awesome it was that someone had just sacrificed himself for the team. Todd slammed the corner and Andy took over around the chicane leading Todd and myself with 2 corners to go. A few guys jumped hard around the second to last corner and I jumped their wheel up the last lil kicker. The mini-group hit the downhill hard and we all maintained position the last 200 meters finishing all within connecting bike lengths. I finished fifth, without my team I would have finished last. The Spidermonkeys displayed some serious tactics, a testimony to the hard work thats been put in on the route to HP.

Anybody who doesn’t enjoy a good cheering section can kiss my ass; Spidermonkeys have the best cheering section ever! We all heard cheers every lap, and saw so many people after the race. Everybody who came this weekend, THANK YOU! I was unable to hear Dean on stage during the race, but I imagine he made the sponsors proud. I was proud to be a Spidermonkey today. Not just because the entire field united themselves and sacrificed themselves for one teammate, but because everybody carried themselves with class. On that note, everybody who raced is entitled to a few classy highlifes this Wed night ride from Bryan!!!

Shake and Bake
Bryan Witry

-teamwork kicks ass

Posted by Andrew Zens for Bryan Witry

Racing on a Monday is much better than work! (Richton Race Report)

Superweek continued in Richton Park on Monday and I couldn’t think of a better way to start the week than racing my bike. Mike Shea and I headed south to Richton Park.
The course was a .6 mile four corner crit with some curvy roads on the front and back stretches. We arrived and saw Geoff from Get a Grip would be racing with us today. I pretty much consider Geoff a teammate, I mean he comes with us to Rocks after the soldier field crits to eat burgers and drink bombers (312 for me). So the three of us did a pre ride of the course to look at the turns and identify any problems areas on the course, we didn’t really find any. However, we did notice that turn two might cause some issues if the guys on the inside didn’t hold their lines. We all continued our warm up and I spent a number of my warm up laps talking to a rider who came in from Marquette, Michigan (that’s in the UP). I could tell he was a strong rider and making nice with him prior to the start could benefit me later.
As we stood at the start line I looked around and noticed a couple racers who I may want to stay away from; the guy with the toe clips and stuffed pockets (it looked like he was hiding a small animal in his back jersey pocket) the guy with the numbers pinned the wrong way, and the guy who was gonna race with his saddle bag and his hand air pump attached to his bike. We stood at the start line for a quite a while, and one of the bicycle heaven guys said “this race is 25 minutes right?” I replied “no its 25 miles (or about 32 laps)” the look on his face was priceless! Ken from XXX chimed in “I made that same mistake at Blue Island” (sidenote: only one xxx guy (ken) in the race, never seen that before)
The race started and for the second race in a row I actually clipped in without any problems. The race rushed into the first two corners, the guys I had identified as possible “stechy riders” lived up to their billing, the toe clip guy took the second corner about as bad as humanly possible! One of the bicycle haven guys yelled “you gotta hold your line, or you are gonna kill all of us” and he couldn’t have been more dead on, this guy was gonna hurt one of us unless we dropped him off the back quick! I made sure to get as far away from that guy as possible for the next couple of laps, and thankfully we dropped him about five laps in.
The pace at the beginning of the race was brutal, two guys from Springfield (I think they were on Team Hammer) took a strangle hold over the race, they set the pace, just the two of them. It was the most impressive display of dominating a race I have seen at the cat 4 level! Finally someone went to the front to slow the pace frantic pace. The early pace spit riders off the back only the stronger riders survived.
Several attacks went off the front, none of these riders were able to hold their attacks for more than a lap or lap and a half. The best attack occurred somewhere around 15 laps to go, it got off the front and a guy from bicycle haven asked me to go chase it down with him, I declined I just didn’t have it in me.
With seven laps to go I realized I had no idea how many laps were left, I rode up to mike shea and asked him, he told me “7” the others riders in the group tried to trick me and said “15” or “12” and one said “2”. Lesson learned, always keep an eye on the lap board, or find a teammate, because everyone other than your teammates are there to beat you!
With five laps to go the pace got pretty serious, everyone knew that position would be king, and a field sprint looked like a real possibility. I did my best to find a spot in the front of the pack and hold it over the next few laps, but as we entered the final lap I was stuck mid pack, and out of the last two turns I struggled to gain better position. As I came out of the last turn I knew it wasn’t going to happen for me, and I sprinted to the finish (passing a few guys) to finish a respectable 22nd. Mike Shea got another top 10 coming in 7th and Geoff (who gave mike a lead out) finished 19th. The two guys from Springfield went 1-2 in the race, hats off to those two.
It was a good race and I learned a couple important lessons:
1) Always know the lap count
2) Position is key
3) Work on holding my position in the last couple turns
4) Learn how to sprint

Shake and bake’

The Lawrence Top Ten List

10) Driving across state lines with Ken requires the ability to open four car windows quickly! It became the rating system, Ken only produces four window farts!!!!!!

9) Wheatfield’s breakfast is the breakfast of champions (http://www.wheatfieldsbakery.com/)

8) Dan Pollard can eat and he loves a good turkey leg

7) Kansas is not flat

6) Dehydration after a race allows for limited rest stops on the 9hr drive home (ride there 4 stops; ride home 2 stops)

5) People in Kansas are very nice; they will just start a conversation with you, its a bit weird but kind of cool too.

4) If you drive roughly 1200 miles you better pick up some podiums!

3) When you can not find 312… Free State Beer is a great substitute. (http://freestatebrewing.com/) We loved all the Free States Beers.

2) If you win a race it entitles you to the first ‘smile’ from Mystique… more to come at jj peppers…

1) The last man back to the hotel room wins the next day (night 1 zens stumbles in at 2:15, night 2 jake arrives around 3:15, both claim victory the following day)

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