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From Going Too Early, To Not Going at All
 
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 6/10/2002
From Going Too Early, To Not Going at All
 

Proctor Cycling Classic, Illinois State Championship Crit June 8-9

The glorious weather of early summer greeted the same familiar faces in a different town this weekend, this time in Peoria, Illinois. Peoria is a bit more of an actual city than one would think. It actually has some high rises, and a nice skyline from the highway as well, it also has a world famous strip club, some truly swanky hotels, and the Sammy Hagar/David Lee Roth tour was in town setting up for a sunday night gig. (more on that later) Itís odd, doing these bike races all over the midwest on consecutive weekends. Barely anyone shows up to spectate outside of those tagging along with the bunch. It seems almost carnival-esque, with the same 500 or so riders traveling like gypsies from town to town. The pro field was a little sparse this weekend, but I think everyone was out east contesting the national championship, but we of the lower ranks were out in full force, trying to snag points for the Illinois Championship Series for the USCF, myself included.

After last weekendís early jump and early gas, I had a good week of training, and was honestly looking forward to racking up my first win equipped with my new knowledge on how NOT to ride a race. However, one must learn to adapt when one does not get what one wants.

Proctor Classic Road Race, June 8

After a solid nightís rest at the lovely Holiday Inn Brandywine (complete with $43 rate after I told them we were with the hospital in town, they did look oddly at the bikes, but did not question) I was the lone representative of the Hotel Accomodations squad at the road race held in nearby Brimfield, Illinois. The weather was hot, and a south wind grew steadily all day. The blessing and the curse of racing in the lower categories: you get to go early, when the weather and the wind are not so severe, but also, you get to go early, so youíre sitting on the edge of your hotel bed stuffing apples and bananas into your face watching the sun come up. A double edged sword I look forward to leaving behind. The field numbers about 40, and the course is rural to say the very least. Mostly flat to rolling, with two nasty climbs completing a 12 mile circuit. Our race is scheduled to go two laps, 24 miles, the first 20 of which felt like a club ride. There was one odd individual who would attack on a flat or a downhill, then "cat ass" (lower his shoulders and stick his rear straight up all aero-like) and coast. Obviously a strong rider, but clearly lacking the conceptual grasp of what it is to ride a road race (more on him in the crit story). Weíd all rubber band behind him, and since he didnít press the issue, nothing ever got away. Ah, the mechanics of a 5 race. Into the finishing straight, up the first climb, Iím sitting pretty in about 6th position on the road, and the field is now single file. Trying to stay with those same guys at that pace on the second climb turned about to be not the best of ideas, and I cracked a little bit and I got separated a little, got caught out by the second group, and had to settle for 13th over the line. Shades of last weekendís mistake. A little too much gas too early. But, it was o.k., I felt alright about it. The rest of the day was spent with my team skipper Jason, his wife Kristen (Trek/VW), and our friend Natalie from the TDS Telecom team, sharing single file the shade provided by one utility pole in the tall Brimfield grass, watching the rest of the dayís races. My patient and supportive girlfriend had her separaton anxiety from our own dog quelled since Jason had brought Micah, an excitable 3-year old Rot [Rottweiler], who played team mascot for the weekend. Then it was nap, a giant steak and a ton of veggies and pasta, a beer, and bed.

Illinois State Champinship Criterium, Downtown Peoria, Illinois

At this point, I was tired of being unparalleled in my mediocrity. I wanted to win, and my team mate Matt knew it. We figured Sunday would have been the day, but we forgot to figure that when you mention "state championship" it must be synonymous with "sandbagger" (someone clearly in need of an upgrade who races the lower category). Again, the field is around 40 riders, most of whom looked pretty scary I must say. Also included in our motley bunch was the aforementioned "cat asser" from the road race. I warned Matt about him during our warmup - "watch for him to go early, but not to know what to do." I noted the other bigger regional teamsí representatives, and marked them at the start line. The gun goes off, and itís full-on warfare right away. The break is formed, and Matt and I are in it, nestled in the back. My first look over the shoulder saw the field trying to close, my second glance a lap later revealed that the 7 of us were away, free and clear with 90% of the race yet to run. The cat asser was in the break with us and was as dangerous as could be. The other two animators were from pretty big regional teams. One of which, whose team shall remain nameless but wears baby blue and red, was clearly superior to the rest of the break, with the exception of one other rider who could match all of his shenanigans. The cat asser was cornering as though he were being given dance style points on it. No smoothness at all, heíd stand the bike up and lean out against the grain of the curve, then snap the bike almost to the pavement throwing his line away and breaking any draft behind him. Sometimes he actually cornered while cat-assing, sometimes with his forearms on the bars - totally nuts. I hope someone in a higher category pulled him aside later and read him the riot act.

But again, this is the learnerís category, Iím just glad he didnít wipe anybody out with his inane riding. But it was the two sandbaggers who were putting the hurt on. Riding very strong, they shared most of the work. Matt took a pull, and the two of the other guys in the break stuck their nose out once or twice, but the majority was done by the two baggers. When there was a little lull, we were thankful for it. Although it is the opportune time to attack, we (or I actually) simply couldnít do it. I sat in the back, liking my chances at the time, figuring Iíd wait it out. When it started getting down to crunch time, our plan was to attack, then the other rider would sit in on the chase, then counter. However, all hopes of attacking were quashed when the sandbaggers were holding a steady 28-30 mph pace in the last lap. It was all I could do to sit in, having to whiplash around the corners and burn to stay on the back of the break. So instead of going too early, it appeared I wasnít going to go at all.

We turned the last corner and started the long sprint for the line with everyone spreading out. It was maddening to watch the baby blue and red Ďbagger lead the whole last lap, then crush us all in the sprint, staying away for victory. Matt climbs over a few guys and takes 4th. Of the 7 in the break I take 7th, unable to get around anyone. I slapped my handlebars in dismay at the time. But after a bit of reflecton, I guess it wasnít all bad. A split second of bad or good luck decides the whole shooting match some times, and that is simply the nature of this sport.

In the end I made lemonade from lemons, happy to sit in with such strong riders, and still, 7th out of near 40 isnít so bad. Iím learning, and getting better each week. My team mate Ed raced the 30+ masters race (which the 1ís and 2ís use as a warmup) and did a fantastic job, hanging in for a top 15 finish among some very fast racers. Ed, youíll be our first pro soon. Matt had more cajones than I and entered as well, hanging in long enough to get a feel for it before withdrawing.

So, after some consolation from Jason, it was back to role of spectator, hanging out with the clan, and Micah, who was ever vigilant hoping for an opportunity to eat a passerbyís dog. Now, in an unrelated comedic segment, the weekend was plagued by icons from the 80ís, I kid you not. First, every restaurant in Peoria seems to have 80ís soundtracks going. Iím not talking the pedestrian stuff, Iím talking deep hardcore 80ís bad, bad music. Like Scritti Politti, and Information Society. and I should have realized all this karma-esque exposure was prepping me for something. Sure enough, while watching the other racers, this older gentleman comes up to pet Micah on the sidewalk. (Micah does well with other humans, not so well with other canines.) He is smoking (an anomaly at bike races....some townie always comes out in a Harley shirt and proceeds to burn cigarette after cigarette) and then announces to Micah, "I have something Iíd like to feed you......" We sit in stunned silence as he completes the sentence ".....David Lee Roth." Turns out the dude wasnít a townie, he was DLRís bus driver (see first paragraph). Talk about 80ís surrounding you...you canít get much more 1984 than good olí Diamond Dave. He regaled us with stories of Daveís recent tantrums, first made famous while with Van Halen, and apparently still ongoing. I love DLR-era Van Halen, itís the truest summer music for me, but the idea of him in his 50ís playing 20 year old music in Peoria, albeit summer, just doesnít cut it. So, carrying an odd sense of mixed defeat and victory, we slipped out of Peoria before Mr. Roth and his ex-Van Halen compatriot Sammy Hagar could rock it off the map.

Next weekend: first year event the Melrose Park crit! A home race right in Chicago! Whoo-hoo, no hotels!

Thanks for reading! Onward and Upward!

Rich Pink

electricrhino@hotmail.com

 
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