Monsters Of The Midway 2016 M1,2,3, race report.
Monsters of the Midway. I’ve done this race so many times, and yet I always ask myself why?
The course is basic, the surface is appalling, the prizes lean, there’s no neutral support, the wind always howls down the long midway dominating strategies and ruining attacks. Moan moan moan.
The reason I’m here, the reason everyone is here is because it’s here, in the heart of Chicago, at that precise moment in the season where everyone wants to race, is (just about) ready to race, needs to race. And hence everyone is here, making for a big competitive event you can test yourself against. So shut-up, harden (the fuck) up and line up.
I arrive in time to pay and register. Yes I decided, make that folded, into doing this thing at 10pm the night before. Actually, make that 10:20 after reviewing the tv weather forecast. Those lying sack of shit forecasters, they said nothing about the thunderstorm brewing up literally 10 minutes after I’ve committed and unloaded the bike. The weather radar looks like a Jackson Pollock, the sky darkens and wind is suddenly whipping around in every direction.
Too late to do anything now. Tents are blowing over and barriers on the course too, letting unaware motorists drive on. It’s not raining yet, we wait on the line freezing in the cooling breeze for the all clear and whistle.
By some miracle the winds drop, skies brighten, barriers are righted and we are off and racing. No rain.
Early pace is high and I’m struggling to keep up, but after a lap I’m warmed up and revving for action. The wind as usual seems to be a strong headwind in both directions. Down the straights the bunch snakes around, hunting for respite. Grit and gravel fly up from the gutters and riders curse each other, but we throw ourselves into the turns 3 wide glad the rain is holding off.
There are some classy riders here, Weather Channel have three and expect to dominate, Burnham are not so sure about that. Half Acre has one, and he’s holding 10th wheel with no expectations at all. Several riders flat out, one right in front of me. Nobody panics, hand up off to the side. I have my spare wheels in the median this year after last years calamity. Here's hoping they just sit there. Still no rain.
As usual there are drops in the pace that swap the order, as the back of the race swarms the front, followed by furious fightbacks. It’s fast and fun. I'm enjoying it.
An attack of six goes off, this looks dangerous, Weather Channel are weather making at the front. As teammates block I’m also working to improve my position and get thrown to the lead of the chase. A lung bursting pull up the straight, no help and we are up to the rear three who seem to have become detached. Gasping I roll off and let someone else mop up the rest. 4 to go.
One lap in shelter and I’m recovered and looking for better placing, in fact feeling pretty good. Up the gutter on the back straight, jink around the big pothole, avoid the hay bale marking a water filled chasm and hop back in line top 10 before the narrowing chicane around the center crossroad.
By monsters standards it’s only a small pothole, but hitting it blows my back wheel out instantly. Off to the right as I swear, brake and stop. No more free laps by now but maybe I can get back swap a wheel and get out in the time of the half lap I will miss. Astonishingly I think of all this in the moments it takes to pull up. Adrenaline surging I’m across the course and riding the grass back up to the wheel pit, all over the place on my flat. I grab my spare and throw it on - the ref yells me I have to chase as I sling the old wheel away - I’m off up the road in seconds but alas the bunch is past and I’m 100 yards behind by the time I shoot out onto the course. Maybe 10 seconds too late.
With two to go I’m pretty much screwed, but rushing on adrenaline so I chase hard burning it up. No dice, no way I can close the gap as the bunch revs up for the end. It’s the saddest bell lap I ever heard, looking like a dropped looser, which in many ways I am. I continue and finish, even mopping up a few riders who are shelled off the bunch as it charges to the line and a weather channel win. Final placing was 41/49.
So not much luck today but the 2016 road campaign is underway and I seem to be at least in the mix competitively.
And as for Monsters: once again, never again. See you next year.