Mine’s a Pint

Mine’s a Pint - Glencoe Grand Prix 6/3

I remember in one report remarking with perhaps a little exaggeration that Glencoe is where people pop out for a pint of milk, in a Ferrari. Today its Glencoe Grand Prix day, and as I unload the team tent from my Rover, lo and behold there is a F430 parked up in front of Grand Foods on Hazell Ave.

So yes, this is the fantasy land of Glencoe. John Hughes, 16 Candles, Ferris Bueller, fabulous wealth, private beaches et al

But once again the folk of Glencoe have embraced cycling for the day with a big heart, and generously turned over their town center and lovely leafy lanes to our sport. It’s the biggest race of the year here and I’m happy to be part of it - as is the Half Acre Brewery - providing beer concessions and extensive sponsoring signage.

The HAC tent is up, and I’m warmed up ready for my Masters 45+ all cats race. It’s a great field, Burnham, Weather Channel, Intelligentsia, Zipp yep the gang’s all here.  Glencoe does race numbers and callups by USAC rankings, and I’m bib #8, my best ever here, so I get to toe the line front row.

After the off, I realize I’m hardly #8, more like #last as I struggle with the criterium turns and the pace changes. My first crit of the year and skills feel very rusty. Gradually I get into the groove and it gets smoother. Sometimes the pace is electric, all out single line barely hang on. Sometimes it’s slow and the bunch swaps ends and bumps around. No breaks go off despite the primes and watch sprints. It’s generally a bit unmemorable mid-race, I wish we got to do the long course…

Overall the pace is high and riding exemplary, no crashes, no corner bombing. In fact, my going two wide into a corner causes unnecessary complaint at one point. Sir, you need to recall your last cat4 race 20 years ago or whatever, and the 5 wide crazy shit that went on there. A single line is not going to happen here and I don’t care who your sponsor is.

Unintimidated I work up the field from a pretty lowly position on the last lap and find a way around the outside on the back straight that gets me a few places. Around the last turn on the inside and charge the line, but the lead guys are so fast. 

7th isn’t bad, and in this company I’m happy. I improved on my bib # by one. High fives from the team tent on the warm down lap. Enjoy the rest of the day watching the racing and lapping up rays. No pint of milk, no ferrari, but I will be popping back to Glencoe next year.

~Bevan Brookfield

Cheesy Rider

Cheesy RIder - Palmyra RR May-27

I have a report from Palmyra WI, a small town out in kettle moraine country. Team Velocause are running a rare road race on memorial saturday. To spice up the report I’m including quotes from 'The Rider' by Tim Krabbe. If you haven’t read it, put down this and your chai latte or IPA and proceed to the nearest bookstore immediately (or I can lend you it).

Anyway, road races, hmm. I dont have the best experience with these. While riding through the countryside is far superior to tight criterium courses, there are inevitably hills, organizers simply cannot resist them, and my 190lb body doesn’t really do hills.  This course is 9 miles and we have four laps. And yep there’s the hill, just after the start. It’s a grinder, but it’s not that long and nothing like as brutally steep as ones around Galena. 

Off the line it’s me and Joe S representing HAC, a smattering of other Chicago riders and a lot of lean looking guys from the top wisconsin teams. Off we go bumping over two railroad tracks and on up to the hill. First time up it’s ok, big ring, smallest sprocket lug it up in the saddle. Resist temptation to drop to the small ring.

‘Shifting is a kind of painkiller, and therefore the same as giving up. After all, if I wanted to kill my pain, why not choose the most effective method? Road racing is all about generating pain.’ 

I’m always amazed how I can hurtle down the slightest hill far faster than anyone else, what (lard) goes up must come down - and fast. Hence I’m thrown to the front on a slight descent and take a dig as we head south, soon I’m joined by Joe and we are swapping the lead, a poppy red tete de la course.

Its rolling idyllic countryside as we make our way around in dappled sunlight. Finally we reach the 4 mile finish straight. Here we have a following wind, and downhill sections give you back some of that energy cruelly paid out. Result is a 40mph blast as you swoop through curves, avoid huge but well marked potholes and drop down to the start/finish.

My plans are simple, don’t get dropped on the hill, if you survive 4 ascents then we can take an assessment and see what’s possible. But above all, don’t get dropped on the hill.  So that’s how it goes, I survive 2 more ascents, 2 more laps, a sketchy line (mine) through a full speed corner that has me trading paint with another rider and we come up to the final ascent. Joe has disappeared so I’m on my own.

Oh shit.

I’m smart enough to be at the front, and I even pull away very slowly on the run up making it clear this is not an attack. Down the gears and into the pain cave. Halfway up riders are streaming by. At the top I’m last in our depleted field but not gapped. In the red and hanging on. 

‘My whole life had only one goal: making that last wheel, here, now. I was wasted.’ 

Four guys have attacked and got away 100 yards. We chase and as my heartrate drops into a range that will continue my existence on earth, I’m helping out with a few pulls.  The four remain tantalizingly close. As we turn into the wind I’m second wheel in our chase but I simply cannot (or will not?) help the pursuit into this wind, I suck wheel shamefully.

‘Racing is licking your opponent’s plate clean before starting on your own.’ 

But wait. The lead four seem to be fighting over who will pull them through the headwind too, and the gap is dropping by the second. A turn and a quick attack has us all together. All to play for.  Did I say all? My back is majorly smarting, I’m a bit hot and feeling and looking a bit ragged in the saddle. A last drag on my bottle and it’s time for the 40mph run in.

Nothing is quite as exhilarating as taking curves and dodging holes at such insane speed with 23mm of thin rubber between you and calamity. The centerline doesn’t exist on these farm roads, and its concept is, well, let’s say liberally interpreted on the descents leaving me mid pack in about 12 riders left.

The finish isn’t in sight yet but the sprinting begins and I go with it, finally coming over the brow of the last downward hill. There’s the line. 200 yards ahead. I go for the left, and finally wind up to full gas to make some places. Pass one rider then another then suddenly I’ve got the big MO, a speed advantage built up as I worked up the shelter of the field, so I slingshot by the rest of the sprinting mob and cross the line an astonished first with a probably unnecessary throw. Exhaustion turns to elation.  First place.

‘Because after the finish all the suffering turns to memories of pleasure’

Indeed, Tim Krabbe. Win or lose, (and be fair to me, I write up the far more numerous shoulda/coulda/woulda losses and the epic fails too) that’s why we do this.  

~Bevan Brookfield

15 Minutes of Voluntary Pain

ABD Indoor TT - 2/19

3, 2, 1, and we’re off. I shift down and try to find an uncomfortable but sustainable rhythm. I look at the big screen. This feels way too hard to be only doing 21mph and stuck in fifth place. Keith Morris is whispering sweet nothings in my ear. Oh wait, I’m looking at the wrong column, I’m doing 25 and I’m in first . Second place is close but third through sixth are nowhere close to touching me. I think I’ve always enjoyed time trials? I keep my head staring down at my heart rate and cadence. These are the only things that matter until it is finished. I have found a comfortable rhythm at 103 rpm only deviating up and down to maintain 183-185 bpm.

Every once in awhile I look at the board to check second place's pace. I am a sweaty mess and drooling from the mouth, the triathlete next to me looks at me in disgust. The last minute or so, I drop down a gear, kicking, to maintain the cadence. It’s getting darker but I have some good motivation in my ears. Iggy has always sat in my corner right next to Eddy. Turning yourself inside out never felt so good and then...I’m done. I reach the end, sit up and spin easy; lungs burn. Second place finishes 40 seconds after me, the remainder in minutes. I average 24.6mph for 10k in 15 minutes 10 seconds. I come in 7th overall for the day of 83 or so riders. I apologize to the triathlete with a smile. We have now returned to our regularly scheduled broadcast of Mutually Assured Destruction.

~Joe Schubert

A Hard Fought Season Closer

A Hard Fought Season Closer

Going into last race of the WORS series, I was tied for second place overall in the
series age group. With my talented opponent grabbing the early lead he ended
up flatting in a creek crossing leaving the gate open. It was mine to win.

The course was a mudfest of sticky clay and forest loam from 2 days of rain. At one point, I was running up a steep hill basically dragging my back wheel up, then had to remount my chain at least 7 times, and whacked a post pushing my brake/shifter back to a point awkwardness to ride. Again, I had to stop, pry them back into place.

All in all I still may have caught my opponent if he hadn't flatted. I really had a good feel for the drifting effect you get in mud like that. I really feel bad for his misfortune, we both really wanted the win, so no telling what would have happened in the end. Got to hand it to him though, he finished the race on the flat. I'm feeling humble for the win and will know in a few days if I secured the 2nd place series win. It was a tough season again with some very good riders which always make it fun and exciting.

WORS#10 Sheboygan. Oct 2nd

~Rich Baumgarten

Build It And They Will Come

Fall Fling 2016 by ABD

We are out in the cornfields beyond west Chicago. The technology park has been set up with inspirational names like 'discovery way' and 'innovation drive', there is immaculate tarmac on the sweeping roadways plus european style roundabouts and...that's it. They built it and no one came. Just a whole lot of space to let. Still, it allows ABD set out a nice course with a few cones and two marshalls.

The weather is just perfect, 80 and sunny. Why is there racing every weekend in April with pissing rain and 50F instead of now?

The thing about these technology park races, especially ones with no technology like this one, they are basically windswept fields. This is true here in spades, with a brutal headwind on the start/finish. From the whistle it’s dominating the tactics, as we roar down the back straight barely needing to follow a wheel, shoot through the second roundabout and turn into the long looping curve. Immediately the wind has you struggling, an echelon position at about 8 o’clock is needed for some relief, which as you drag round the long curve turns into a straightforward wheel sucking job into the finish line. Don’t know what an echelon is? You are fucked. This group does and lines five or six wide fan out over the road.

Did I mention my 40+ 1-2-3 race is thrown in with the 1-2s and 3s race fields, all combined into one mega-race of 75 minutes?  Scored separately but raced together this is going to be interesting. The only tactic I got from racers who have done it before is, race the race. You might finish better than you think.

I take an early turn at the front. It’s so easy flying along with a tailwind, then wham you are toiling in the crosswind while glancing at the neat line over your left shoulder, none of whom are coming by. Then a headwind that’s breaking you slowly. After a lap I’m exhausted but I’ve learned plenty. No small breakaway can succeed, and a field sprint will be taken by patience not an early suicidal dash.

The laps ebb and flow. Some are slow while the field snakes around banging off each other as riders refuse to lead, other attacks go off. One or two are allowed to go, and brought back when they quit fighting the wind. When two go and then two more follow, the chase is furious fragmenting the pack behind. So far I’m OK but some of the surges are so fast and intense I’m feeling bile rise in my throat. Keep near the front as someone letting a gap open would kill your race.

By 60 mins I’m into new territory in criterium racing, but there’s no breakaways and I’m sure I can finish somewhere. They ring up five to go and the adrenaline is pumping. How crazy will it be, can I hang on? Answer. Not crazy at all. Two to go is a slow edgy lap of positioning, so, amazingly is bell lap. Into the last and I’m up to 3rd wheel through the roundabout, echeloning off our angry sacrificial race leader, and waiting, waiting waiting. For eternity, nothing happens. Finally the attack over my left shoulder I’m waiting for. A big mob already up to speed. It's then 10 seconds of absolute fury accelerating into them and bouncing from wheel to wheel picking up places. Finally to the line I come around a fading challenger and bury myself into the wind trying to cross a gap. At the tape I’m fifth or sixth overall, but I am certainly done. I just pull to the side and stop, no warm down lap. Nothing but deep heaving breaths.

I find I’m 3rd in my race - picking up a cash prize, and a little bronze medal. Nice end to the road season for 2016.

~Bevan Brookfield