Because five laps into your race you won’t be able to see ANYTHING. That’s what happened today at Glencoe Grand Prix in Illinois. First, our race started 30+ minutes late. This puts a damper how much of your bottles you can drink while you wait, the GU you just took is now half digested, and you are standing around not moving your legs like a herd of cattle waiting to be moved from one pasture to another. The race was a technical eight-cornered one-mile course with a small lift on the backside.
As the gun went off it start sprinkling. No big deal as earlier when I checked the weather it mentioned nothing would happen until after 6PM (we raced at 4 PM). None of us could have imagined what we were in store for our 50k race. The first several laps were normal (as normal as it could be with rain slowly thickening) and as usual all I was focused on was positioning myself. Since this was a fairly technical course being up front was essential unless you like doing twice the work. There were manholes on every corner but one and it became very obvious that the rain made them slick as ice. In fact they were a guaranteed slip to some degree. Anytime I had to hit one I pivoted my bike so that it would be perpendicular to the manhole surface as I used my leaning weight to get threw the corner safely. And then five laps in…the rain came crashing down. Gaps in the pack happened all over the place. You could not see much other than maybe a little of the wheel that was directly in front of you. Again I hope you have a photographic memory (lucky for me, I actually have a great one). Remembering where each of those manholes was and which line would be the best to take in order to avoid them was key. Soon not only was there a crap ton of rain, but it started flooding the corners (like a foot’n a half!) and thunder came crashing down. Ummm…okay are they going to let us continue…ah I guess so.
The pace may have eased some because of the rain, but there was never an easy moment. My legs didn’t feel recovered from the week and I had fallen off the main group with all the gapping. I can’t remember how many laps went past (10??) while getting through the flash flood conditions but I didn’t give up. Looking back I am SO proud of myself because I suffered and still pushed through. Soon I could see the pack in the distance. It took a while, but with five laps to go I bridged up and caught them!!! Hell yes! I got to breath a little. It was still raining at this time, but not the down pouring type we just swam through. Crashes were happening about every lap and one gal slid out pretty good hitting a curb. We continued on with four to go until they stopped us on the backside. I about flipped a shit thinking…NOW they are going to stop us because of weather?? Sadly the race was stopped because that gal hadn’t been able to move from the street but she was sitting up so I think ok. We were neutralized for about 15 minutes. There had been a gap of three who restarted ahead of the rest of us and half the peleton was all that remained. We had three laps to go. As we rounded with two to go I realized I didn’t like my position and wanted a front wheel spot to get through those corners clean, so naturally I attacked. I was able to string out our chase group. However my power faded after a few corners but still left me in a good position. With Half a lap to go a few got around me and then a few more. I was annoyed that my legs didn’t respond with only a little race left. I’m sure this was a combination of tired legs to begin with, not enough to fuel me through the whole race, and my bold little move with two to go. I took 17th which is nothing to write home about (blogging is okay though). However the 17th is meaningless to me. What does matter is that I survived a very hard technical race in difficult conditions without crashing, bridging back onto the pack, and then attacking the chase group. I suffered and I continued. I was really hungry for that top ten placement, but that will have to be for another day.
It’s been a long 36 hours of driving and racing, but we apparently we can’t get enough. Jen and I are planning to be on the road at 6 AM. With any luck we will be at MN State Crit race tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully with some legs left over.
Please excuse any typos as it is past my bedtime! Oh and I’m still working on my Chattanooga write up as I have lots to share, just lack free time.
Glencoe Grand Prix put together playing cards! Kids were going crazy (I joined them)!