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Chicago Crit

Dazed and Confused

Intelligensia Cup Chicago Criterium pb Goose Island Beer Company

Dazed and Confused

This is a genius location for a Sunday crit. Nothing but warehouses and factories. Deserted. Urban. Gritty. Smelly. 
The organizers have set up their barriers and created a course 5 blocks long, one wide, with a little chicane on the back. No cops needed, not a single cop car present or to be paid for. (Other race organizers take note).   Sunny views of the loop skyline and coffee from the intelligentsia HQ complete the look.  The fours race ended with a big crash, but this course is pretty easy, ours to screw up in other words.

Its starts fast and I’m enthused by the crowd crossing the line, going off the front a little and dangling for a lap, setting an early marker. Its a fight into the wind on the back straight but the finish line is a blur as you rev through at 35. Its fun racing, plenty of people want to have a dig, the speed is up and down like a dogs dick.

This race has a feel of one where a big break will go off. After 10 laps a big break duly goes off. Six riders gap on the finish straight, so I bust a gut bridging over. I arrive at the back gasping and others are clamoring for working together, with all strong guys this break has success written up and down it. Lets go. But strangely the pace drops and the bunch catches up.

A couple of doomed solos are the only other excitement as we knuckle down for the big ugly bunch sprint. One to go and I’m 12th wheel. Not good enough and I have some gas, so instinct has me jumping out on the back straignt and fighting into the lead. Two go by me just before the penultimate turn. This is good news, a leadout train to winsville. Follow them round the turns and I’m holding my leadout wheel waiting to go. Its such a long straight, don’t want to Cav it and go too soon. 
Just. one. more. second.

Too late.

The bunch is steaming around me both sides. One guy comes by so close he’s slowly rubbing and bumping up my thigh and shoulder, and I’m blocked the other side too.
By the time I can get out of this box the race is lost, a big roiling group of guys is ahead bashing off each other sunglasses flying as they fight the line. 


Happy with a top ten, but it could have been much more.


Bevan B.

Race Day Discoveries


The nightclub where I met and proposed to my wife had lost their lease and the weekend of the Chicago Crit would also be NEO's last weekend. It was also the weekend of the 36th NEO Reunion. Some things, though you know you're going to pay for them, you just have to do. We went out Saturday night to bid farewell to a Chicago institution. 

I woke-up Sunday to a fierce hangover and the discovery that the house's air-conditioning unit had died the previous day. I spent the morning trying to prep for the race, calling A/C contractors, and ignoring the complaints coming from my stomach. Nothing solid would go down, so breakfast consisted of CarboRocket Recovery and a salt/caffeine tablet. Lemme be frank, here, I may have found the miracle cure to wicked hangovers....

At least I prepped everything the night before and was able to get to the race on time. Check-in and setup were a breeze. I had a chance to chat with a few people before my race and, knowing I wasn't really in any condition to race, figured I'd use the day to sit in and work the pack.

Then the whistle blew. I love the moment when all the "feeling like crap" goes away and the adrenaline and endorphins combine to make you go, "I can do this". I was tired, but feeling pretty good. Bevan was sitting pole position, keeping a solid pace and causing pain. I was sitting mid-pack, just getting a feel for the day. Chicago Crit really isn't my race. I love it, but it's non-technical and the bunched pack has a bad habit of grabbing brake in the one tight(er) turn. It makes me impatient.

Mid-race, I was getting antsy. I felt decent, but knew there was no way I'd have enough for a good sprint when the time came. Then the announcer called a prime. I was up near the front of the peloton when everyone slowed down a ton for the first corner. I just flowed through it and found myself at the front. On a prime lap? I guess everyone was saving up for it. I just settled-in and kept the speed around 40kph. I went through the chicane and looked back to see everyone strung out in a line. I didn't think we were going that fast.... Going into the final two turns, I added a little heat. Everyone grabs brake and I went through at least 45kph. Coming out, I ramped up speed to over 50 and looked behind. Nobody. I held it for a few seconds and "felt" someone bridge. I dropped down to 50, legs screaming, and waited for my chase to make his move. Coming into the last few meters, the announcer gave me a call-out and my chase never jumped. That smile as I came across the line? Not a smile. Grimace. Pain.

By the second turn, I faded to last, just trying to recover. Luckily, I heard the moto and jumped onto the tail of the second-to-last racer. He pulled me all the way to the third corner, where the pack were riding the brakes through. With only four laps to go until the end of the race, it was all I could do to hang on. Endorphins and adrenaline were spent, leaving only hangover and pain. Yeah, I had a terrible finish. Yeah, maybe I shouldn't have accepted all those horrible Rumchata shots Saturday night. Yeah, and maybe I should diet and train 5 days a week. But I don't live to race, I race to live. And sometimes, you gotta make bad decisions and pay the price.

-Johnnie O. 

From Bike Tour to Peloton, a Leg Conversion

SRAM Chicago Criterium p/b Goose Island Beer Company Men's Category 4

This was my first race since Galena RR and after taking a month off to bike tour. I was pretty gassed at the end. I started the race in the middle of the field and the tempo was combat speed from the whistle. The course was painted with neon illuminating the hazards on the road every 50 feet and the thought of aiming at every one in hopes of flatting out flashed in my brain. I bury the thought and begin to move up to my teammate James. He is looking strong and I plan to hang with his wheel. This works for a lap or two and I begin to creep towards the back. I still find strong wheels but the yo yo of the peloton is taking its toll. Racers back here are fatigued and making bad choices. I make another push to move up.

It seems every time I look at my bike computer we are cruising at 29mph. There are now 8 laps to go. I haven't been pulled from the large field. This is my new goal- don't get pulled. I move up only to be strung out in the corners. I'm getting annoyed which also means tired. Why is this junior taking three bike widths to sprint after every corner? Tom worry about yourself. Two to go. Why am I at the back?

The announcer even called me and another gent out starting the final lap "there is carnage at the back of the pack" I thought I was the carnage until the chicane on the back side. The top ten of the field wrecked and the true carnage was the entire width of the road. I weaved around as a new pack formed and made the final two corners and put whatever I had left into my sprint. Sure there was no contention in our placement but it still feels good to feel horrible after a race.

-Tommy R.