Monday, November 23, 2009

Two For the Price of One + An Important Lesson

Part 1: Elite Action

Hemme tagged his first CCC 1/2/3 podium - behold the power of the look. Mike has been talking about reaching his peak form by this time of year, and true to his word it's arrived.

Vulgar Display of Power

The ruthless tempo of his first lap looked freakish, and quickly a selection of four was made. About 300 calories later he shook Ben, who maybe got tangled in a chair entering a corner hot, or maybe he was putting on a bunny suit.

With a growing gap at three to go Mike was looking solid, unfortunately his saddle was not. Snap! He came by the tents shouting something about a broken saddle and 19cm... I turned to Alex with a look of despair, ever calm, Alex said, "27.2 right?" Yep. A quick aside - Mike is so loved out here that in 30 seconds the people in earshot of me offered up two complete bikes and half a dozen seat post assemblies.

Ben the Bunny likes nuts

Alex had the pit prepped, and I back tracked the course to let Mike know we had a solution. But by the time Mike came around to the pit with two more to go, the case group, lead by Ben (sans Bunny suit), was closing in. Mike made the call to risk the busted saddle until the end, sensing his 15 second gap was too valuable to give up. Mike kept it together, the saddle kept it together, and a hard earned third place was had.

Compare the factual variances of Mike and I here.

I've yet to hear how the Klugs did in Wisco this weekend, but be sure they didn't leave anything out on the race course. Those two are always racing for the win.

Part 2: Elite-ish Action

My race was remarkably different than my druken rampage in Indian Hills, however, my placing wasn't so different. Hummm. This time out I was on a mission. Last weekend Lew, from Rhythm Racing, enjoyed even more brewhahas than I did. And in our drunken ramblings he gave me the "We're racin' next weekend" ultimatum. So we raced. Lew, Alex, and I we're at the very end of another huge field.

Poker Face - 20 minutes before the race

Gun goes off, and, and, and, no one around me is moving for way too long. The rollout from that far back in the field is spooky slow. So the three of us start moving up in the field. About a half a lap in I'm feeling OK. Exiting the tightest toilet bowl to date, I can see I've got a few seconds and about a dozen people between me and my competition. Then a few moments later Lew comes flying by me. WTF?!

Three things. Lew is a smoker, Lew has been off the bike with a bust rib for a quite few weeks, and Lew raced earlier in the day. Granted I've been sick, but really I should have the advantage here.

I love this

Pic: Chris Strahm

I lock onto his wheel. As he tows me around for a lap I realize that we're busy passing a lot of people. Lew knows how to race - fight for position before the technical sections, drop gears and get on the gas when everyone else is catching their breath at the top of the hill, attack, attack, attack. But I'm learning too.

Entering The Buffet line

We enter The Buffet 1, 2 (or 33, 34). I watch him remount right after the barrier and I attack on foot and sprint up the hill for a pass. I've got 30 feet on him and try not to let up, but a minute later he makes another move around me. Duh! I lock on again and we play the exact same game. We move through some guys, and when we get to The Buffet on the bell lap he remounts and I sprint. I've got him again, and this time I burn the whole book of matches and put two more guys between me and Lew before the final decent. I was not going to leave it to a finish line sprint with someone that has a big ring and major leg speed. 29th isn't the same as 1st, but yesterday it was good enough for me. Lew kept me scared for 30 minutes straight - bravo.

Lew is a fighter

An Important Lesson

This weeks Classic Moments in Cyclocross brings us an important lesson. The Chicago Cross Cup is one of America's most valuable racing series, period. Making bike racing, not just cyclocross, fun, accessible, and competitive is imperative to the overall growth of cycling. Our race scene will promote the growth of the bicycle industry and help further the integration of bicycles into the civic population. When people outside the sport of cycling see us on bikes having fun, they are more likely to be a part of it. At a minimum it will no longer be a foreign concept to them.

Someone get this on the cover of a national mag!

This billboard is awesome, not "dude that's awesome," but awesome like the force of an erupting volcano. Walid Abu-Ghazaleh at Van Wagner is the man for making this happen, but Jason Knauff has done us a huge favor by building a community of fans, racers, and business that want to participate - that is the key. The Chicago Cross Cup has become ours. We're emotionally invested, we're dedicated, and holy shit Montrose going to be off the hook.


Aaron Hayes said...

wow, great write-up, and i can't believe that billboard!

Aaron Hayes said...

wow, great write-up, and i can't believe that billboard!

Gavin said...

ChiCrossCup is gonna be massive next year, I can feel it already. I'm looking forward to everyone who kicked my ass in the 4's doing the same in Cat3.

Mike said...

awesome. wish I could be there for the series finale at Montrose, but Portland will be amazing. Great race!

lwayz said...

You da man Jonathan. Like I said, you are THE Courage rider. See you at Montrose and happy turkey day.