Monday, September 27, 2010

Madison USGP: Shouda' Been a Gunslinger

This is going to be a long one. Big props, new faces, some tech notes, an R rated description of PRO cyclocross, a couple of tails from a gunslinger, tips on buying craft jerky, and how to bet on pigs.

Big Props

Sunday morning at registration I overheard 487 people were registered to race. I inquired how many more they expected to register and was told if it was like Saturday maybe 20 or 25 more racers would be on the final manifest.

The Chi Cross Cup opener in Jackson Park had 541. Bam x 30 peeps yo! Chicago is getting it done with huge, fast fields and a great scene. Word.

Saturday Cat 4

Too hot to handle

This was my first USGP event. When I preroad the course a few details jump out at me. It is walled from start to finish, very video game like. Where it's not taped there are full on walls made with sponsor banners - not forgiving of sloppy handling. This was made more dramatic by how tight some of the course got. There were going to be some major bottlenecks on the first couple laps. All in all it was an exceptional course with a lot of varied terrain and a wicked run up.

Aaron's advice to me was go until you think you're going to puke, then back off a bit. I took that one to the bank. I got a front row start and was feeling pretty jumpy. When the gun went off so did I - I gave it everything. Holeshot baby! I had it, I couldn't believe it. I ran through the gears and entered the first corner with a gap. WTF?! A gap. They announced my name over the PA! I made it to the back side of the course where Laura and my girls were cheering and I totally surprised them. It was awesome. Then I started to feel the tempo rob me of power. In hindsight I think I burned about five of my eight matches on the first lap. Four laps to go.

I started counting spots. Can I hold on to top five? Top 10? When Forest from Johnny Sprokets and Mike Gregor from RVBR came ripping by, I new I was going down. Those two were moving at into the top 10 and I couldn't hold on. I did my best impression of a washed up heavy weight prize fighter sloggin it out until the twelth round. When the bell rang for the last lap I swore to myself I was going to pass someone. It took until the last 50m, but I did it at the line again for 18th. Race one in the bag and not far from my goal of a top 15. I needed to refuel.


The fam and I rolled into Madison for the farmers market to find some much needed nutriment. We had the famous cheese bread. It was good, like a nice savory challah with cheese and crushed red pepper, but it was pretty low tech. I was looking for something to really blow my mind. Like a decedent, blueberry and cheese danish. Home run. It was flaky, a little chewy, and had a deep center overflowing with sweet marscarpone cheese and fresh blueberry filling.

Butter, sugar, cheese, fruit

Next up was some local cheese. A sheep and cow mix with a beer washed skin. Firmer than I expected it to be but delicious sliced on a fresh baguette. Last but not least, home made jerky. Here's some advice, if the jerky has a litany of ingredients it won't be good.


The pro race was incredible. Almost indescribable, but I'm going to take a shot at what it looked like watching Hemme represent COURAGE in the biggest show on Earth.

Run for your life!

Imagine how hard you would push yourself if you were being chased by an angry, hungry bear. How fast would you run knowing a half ton animal wanted to spread your abdominal kit all over the woods? Now imagine you're being chased down a twisty narrow gauntlet with various incarnations of slick, catawampus surfaces. Can you feel the bear getting closer? Finally, top it all off by wearing an ego mincing, one piece spandex clown suit while you're heckled by hundreds of spectators until your certain death.

When the moment arrives, your will succumbs and the predator flays you. You stare out into the nearly silent world with only your heart beat pounding in your head and you beginning to wonder why you volunteered your life for such a spectacle.

Then, as the fear exits the fibers of your body, and you realize your still alive and there was no bear, just the fastest cyclocrossers on the continent, you remember why you race. Incalculable glory. Men cheer, women throw cupcakes, children shout your name and want to stand next to you. People take your picture and blog about it. You just survived 60 minutes of Jurasic Park meets Running Man. You are a god among mortals. On Saturday, watching Mike Hemme race for COURAGE as a pro was awesome. Mike, you are the man.


It was great to see so many Chicago people up in the land of cheese. Roscoe Village Bikes Racing had some great finishes in the Cat 4. A lot of Pegasus, Johnny Sprocket, xXx and The Bone Bell regulars where representing Chicago. And The Pony Shop saw strong finishes from the always fast Holly Klug, 13th in the Pro women event, and Mike Sheer with an awesome 25th place in the Pro mens race.

I got to hang with the the My Wife Inc crew a bit too - good folks from Kansas City and Milwaukee. They made the vibe in parking lot PRO and chill all at once.

Race Tech

Talking with Molly I got a nice look at her one-off Indy Fab carbon cross bike. It is exceptional up close. For a first gen/prototype the fit and finish were superb. Based on all the hard work that went into the bike expect IF to be selling these next season.


"All the pros run tubies." Nope. The French National Champion, Francis Mourey, the dude that is winning everything in the States right now, he did it all on clinchers. I have one less excuse in my arsenal.

Sunday Cat 4

Give 'er

I got the same front row starting spot on Sunday. Bang! gun goes off and I took a monster holeshot again. I should have been a gunslinger. My fast twitch muscles were dialed all weekend. This time I kept the lead well into the second lap. Then setting up for a fast gravel corner I washed out in the wet, greasy corner before it. Shit. I lost so much ground in the second lap the MC heckled me about getting lost when I came through so far back.

I was going as deep as I could. I fought better for position on Sunday, then I suffered the obligatory mid race pass from Forest and Mike and a few more guys. I was racing better, I made a few big moves on the last lap and took back two additional spots on the last run up and in the final straight. 15th place, mission accomplished.

Apple Holler


My family could not have been a better cheering section for me this weekend. Thanks girls. After Sunday's race we headed to Apple Holler south of Milwaukee. Brats, pig races (always pick the ringer that lines up backwards), pony rides and of course a bunch of apple pickin'. It was a nice way to wrap up the weekend.

Little travlers


Paolo said...

You did awesome - and you're only going to keep getting faster!

Jonathan said...

Thanks man, we'll see if I can keep building. You had a great weekend too - 8th in the 2/3 and the 2nd place 3. In my world that's a podium.