I picked the Elgin Denis Jurs Memorial Road Race out because it seemed like the king of all criteriums. An astonishing 3.7 mile long course around the streets of Elgin. Another old course being revived by Intellignesia Cup. They didn’t mess about back in the 70s - part 2.
But ho hey, this is being classed as a road race. So we know what that means. Yes, half way around the meandering but fully blocked off course is a little kicker of a hill. A 30 sec leg burner that will leave the rider gasping. The rest of the course is lots of left right lefts along suburban streets giving a breakaway a chance to get out of sight. Overall it’s a great course.
I'm already staged when Jacob tears up to the back - late as ever. I'm delighted to see him and have some HAC support in this.
We are off, and wary of another back of the race grinding I'm up to the front with a big lunge from the line. Single file seems to be the order of the day up front, and when PJ Cavotto slows I take over and lead up the zig and zag undulating streets I've never even ridden before. Just follow the Moto and zig and zag with it (try not to crash)
First time to the hill I'm scorching down the drop before it. Two go by and I hoon around the turn in third place carrying all the momentum I can while shifting back about 6 on the rear.
Not enough. It’s a dead-legging grind up in too high a gear. Cresting in about 12th place. Lesson learned, change down even more.
Jacob is upfront and leads the second half. I recover and pass him at the start finish, imploring him 'thats enough'. We drop back a bit. In this 4 lap race there is only just enough time for a hill prime (no chance) and a finish line prime (not today) before the final. That final lap I see Jacob looking itchy at the front, gapping 5 yards occasionally. I'm second wheel and figure his slender frame will go well up the hill and on into the all out thrash to the finish. So I take the lead and set a pace discouraging attacks and Jacob going on a suicide solo, but one I'm somewhat comfortable with. This also has the happy side effect of delivering me first to the bottom of the hill.
I take the most aggressive line in, slam up the gears to my 23 and then move over out of the way. At least 10 go by, but I'm still in the thick of it over the top. Surprise. Rather than going nuclear to the line it slows way down at the front and the sketchiest cornering of the race starts as the bunch clumps up in amazement. I can hang on recovering while deflecting a fair bit of argy bargy. Ultimately the selection is made on the penultimate straight. Two get away and the jockeying for position among the remainder is intense - across the road shouting and barging intense. I'm still in the red but holding around the last turn in 10th. To the line I'm neck and neck with Joe Berenyi who pips me by (per the T&S) 1/100th of a sec.
And where was Jacob? Crusing around wondering what all the fuss was, convinced there was another lap to do. 4 isn’t many, but this epic course has the length and topology to elevate it above most crits into the pantheon of great courses. Much respect and kudos due to the Denis Jurs family, Intelligentsia Cup and the City of Elgin for getting it back on the calendar.
~Bevan Brookfield M35+ P11/35