The Half Acre Cycling Kevin Criterium kicked off on a 55* semi-overcast, extremely gusty Monday evening in Calumet Park March 23rd, 2009. That being said, the buzz around the launch of the weekly series seemed to be well spread through Chicago's cycling circles, as 46 out of 50 of the registrants in the men's field made it out to the Illinois-Indiana border to knock out some early upgrade points for the Cat 4/5 season.
Before the whistle blew to start, the race marshal mentioned that this was to be a clean, fun race. The point was stressed that this is for the experience and points, not cash money or prizes. A great concept to involve new racers like myself to get into being comfortable with fast pack riding and tight handling skills.
The whistle blew and it was off the line at 26+ mph. It was definitely not the time to have a case of the Mondays. The pack caught up to those that dashed off the start and the race was on for the remainder of laps. The course was basically an oval with an S bend at the east end. There was a ESE headwind that was barreling down the straight away on the west end at 20 mph and yet, the race pace was still above that number for stretches of 22-25 mph. Did I mention it was only Monday?
The race was pretty straightforward throughout, everyone called their lines and pointed out surges. It was an intense, fast race, but there was some banter going on about being just a training ride at one point. After about 30 minutes of racing the final lap bell rang and the race was on, again. The pace quickly picked up as everyone with gas left in the tank surged to get ahead this final lap. The speed topped over 30 mph the final last stretch, and the sprint to the finish was taken by Ernesto of Yojimbo's.
Final race summary: 32 minutes, 12.4 miles, 23.5 mph
The best part of all of this? We get to do it again tomorrow and the rest of the week! But at least it won't be Monday again...