You couldn't have asked for a better day to race. 5AM rang loud and clear on the clock and five of us from the team met up at 6AM to make the ride up to Glencoe for the Glencoe Grand Prix. We found ourselves warming up to the day with a nice workout pace set by Zach who wanted the Cat 5 racers to be ready to go off at 8AM. We rolled through the north shore, those huge mansions rolling by as the sun came up and the waters looked welcoming. A new day.

We rolled into Glencoe's cute downtown area where the crit was rolling through at just before 7:30AM. The GGP crew were organized -- registration was rolling, there was a stage, a wonderful hospitality tent featuring coffee from Starbucks and a land of treats that made racers welcome it post-race like manna from heaven. It was PRO. Racers had transponders!

The team was fortunate to have been given the opportunity by the organizers to set up a tent and offer up some tasty post-race brews courtesy of Gabriel & Co. of our title sponsor, "Half Acre Beer": This provided our racers a good place to collect ourselves and set-up shop. We were giving our tasty beverage away to registered racers, some who welcomed a beer early while others shied away until it was firmly past-noon. The running joke was that it was "...noon in the world somewhere."

We had most of our racers stacked in the Category 5 race as mentioned before. Dave Bowers, Tim Strege, Kevin Clark and Ryan Thormann were in the first race of the day.

Here's what Kevin Clark had to say:

"I really don’t like racing in a pack, it’s uncomfortable. I even have my doubts as to whether racing masters or 3’s would make a difference. Sure, those cats prove that they’ve got experience, skill or both, but that fact doesn’t make it anymore appealing to me. Anyway… I had planned to accompany the team up to Glencoe regardless and, as I thought about it more, I decided it’d be a much better use of my time to actually race instead of just going to hang out. I don’t have the mass starts necessary for an upgrade, so I made the decision to suck it up and race a cat5 crit simply because I could.

The plan of action was twofold; not crash and get a workout. I will admit that when I toed the line and saw the winner’s jersey I kinda wanted it. That changed less than 100 yards into the race when I noticed that the rider whose wheel I had going into the first turn had a saddlebag on his bike. I gunned it inside of as many as I could to safely take turn 2, which was the first turn off the wind, so it was fast. 3 and 4 were pretty mild. I think by the end of the first lap I was pulling the field.

Yeah, it has become my MO for sure. Save for my teammates Ryan, Dave and Tim, I didn’t know anybody in the field. The only guy I marked was the dude who announced it was his first race ever. I was gonna bail if I ever got near him. Anyway, I don’t think any of the riders in the peleton had me pegged as “that guy who pulls all the time,” so I kept it up – watching the timer on my computer. I also made damn sure Dave Folkes saw me out there – I still want that upgrade. I played around a little too, trying to slow the pace a few times, but I thought that might lead to an attack and I didn’t feel like dealing with one.

I never really looked back, but I think the same guy had my wheel the whole time. When I decided to pick up the pace I asked if we had a gap. He responded and told me how much it was. I wagged the elbow and nothing happed. Again and same result. That’s when I gave up trying to do anything constructive. I wailed on the pedals into the wind and eventually let the peleton that followed my acceleration go around me after the first turn.

I took this as my opportunity to not only rest, but to look at the field as it rounded turn 2. No surprises – got to see some sweet yo-yoing first hand finally. I kept them no more than 5-7 meters away though. I even offered to help a dropped rider bridge back to them, but he couldn’t keep my wheel. I caught back on with one to go, I think, and found Ryan. I didn’t have much left in me mentally so team tactics were overlooked, but I worked my way through as safely as possible amongst the riders who had even less semblance of order now.

I had no sprint, despite my getting better at them. I got 16th and Ryan, in his first race ever, got 10th. There was only one solo crash, but you never know… When I was getting ready to leave I ran into some of the Cuttin’ Crew, before their cat4 start, and recounted my race. “That is what you do,” was a response I got. They also told me I should be a 4. Either way, the whole day was absolutely spectacular and the ride up was breathtaking. The portion of the ride home on the North Branch Trail, according to Zach’s and my prognosis, was the “worst thing ever,” but I felt I shouldn’t complain too much because the rest of the day had been so perfect – even if it did include a cat5 crit. "

As noted, Ryan Thormann had a great result. He listened to the team as he passed by as I yelled, "Move up Ryan!" and he did well with a top ten finish in his first road race ever.

Tim Strege sums up "his thoughts here":, being the hardman that he is, he raced with a still-recovering broken toe. And Tim took some "photos here": Ed White, who's up and running after his hard crash at Kenosha a while ago "has some excellent ones as well":

As the early crew headed back out to make the ride home and the second shift (heh) crew stayed on till the end of the day, we remarked that it was just a perfect day for racing, regardless of how we might have done. And that alone was worth it.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and had some beverage, some ice cream, some Belgian waffles or just chatted. See you soon.

 -Naz Hamid