Tour Of America’s Dairyland: Bayview
Jun 26th 2015
My first ever Tour Of America’s Dairyland race finds me in hipster central Milwaukee, the Bayview neighborhood south of the center.
They have not quite reached peak beard or plaid shirt here, but every bike not on the course is a fixie, and its a mix of offbeat storefronts, bars&cafes around a central point where TOAD has plopped down its impressive start finish line paraphernalia. Flat white and IPA is not in short supply.
Its a pretty urban setting for a race and the course is a fairly flat 0.8 miles, but with 7 turns in that distance, yes count em 7, and a surface that’s cratered concrete.
The reccie lap is very important, check your lines, find the worst holes, the edges and pinch points. The organizers have done a nice job highlighting the hazards, using a LOT of pink paint. People are already hovering around the staging area 10 minutes to go. The announcer admonishes to keep moving, no staging yet. I start another lap only to hear, ‘oh what the hell start staging’
I whip around the course at near race pace and I’m delighted to find I’m at the back of a 70 odd field.
There’s then of course a long wait for the official start time and finally its off, fast. Really fast. At the back its a huge concertina effect, as the group lunges up a short straight, brakes to take the next turn 3 wide, repeat. repeat. repeat.
Its so fast I’m out of the saddle out of each turn, accelerating as fast as my lardy body can go - then try to take a place or two before the heavy braking and turning. Its exhausting and my lower back is killing, but it’s the only way to work up the field. Breeze up to speed in the saddle and two or three will go past you. Its a full on organ grinding and it’s knackering.
There's the surface too. I’m getting a pounding and the bike is being shaken apart by the rough roads. Several people pinch flat out. It must settle down, it will slow down... Finally it does slow down a little and I’m into the groove. Single lane turn, full speed, three wide, pedal through? No problem. No panic. 90 degrees turn with a pothole in the middle, jink your line a foot. Its still a dogfight for positions though, but an enjoyable one. Take a couple ducking under branches on the outside of the back straight, give some back baulked through a turn. Will I ever reach the front?
The longer finish straight is posing a conundrum: Move up on the inside, and be a corner bomber or move up and tuck in in time not to be a corner bomber, only to find a bunch of corner bombing bastards streaming by as you then have to brake extra to allow for their presence. Its a moral dilemma as the laps tick down. Lets just say I do enough sinning and being sinned against to keep things in balance.
Two have gone off the front, and clean cornering lines and working together is clearly the way to go for them. Wish I was there. Wish I wasnt done in from the first 10 laps.
Last lap and I’m hoping a higher pace strings out the bunch and prevents the bombers but instead it inexplicably slows, I’m on the outside and it’s a swamping into the turn.
Oh Crap Part 3
Grab a few cheeky places on the tight sequence of turns at the back of the course, but I’m way too far back and the sprint to the line is too fast to get near a decent place. Cross in 26/55 finishers.
Not my day.