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Soldier Field

3rd at Soldier Field

Laps 1-5: I'm riding scared (noob). Atrocious bike handling (noob) costs me tons of positions as I repeatedly gap myself out of the turns (noob). I go from the top 15 down to the bottom half of the field in record time (noob).

Next several laps: I try to remind myself that I am not a Cat 5 noob anymore and I finally settle in, get in a rhythm and attack the turns with confidence ( + ). I start to work myself back up towards the front on the windy backstretch ( + ). I completely miss a rider breaking off the front (noob). Later, I see another rider bridge (+). I inexplicably forget about the breakaway (noob).

2 laps to go: A rider shoots off the front, I chase and then attack until the finish. It sticks. (+++++). My heart nearly explodes as I cross the line in 1st place... no wait, 3rd place. Yeah, I really did forget about the two guys off the front (noob).

I sweat all over the podium girls (+).

!http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4135/4809648078_4029a27062.jpg!

 -Jamie Sanchez

A Hot Night at Soldier Field

HAC roadies Jamie, Jeremiah, Todd, and Tom were joined by MTB'ers Ben and Mike last night for some hot laps in the hot weather but some really cool results.

In heat 1 of the Cat 4/5's, Jamie went off the front to chase down a 2-man breakaway and landed on the podium in 3rd place.  And in heat 2, Mike and Ben set a blistering pace on the front of the field,  blowing the group apart.  Mike got edged out by our friend Jeff Perkins in the final sprint and landed in 2nd, while Ben rolled across the line in 5th.  Helping the guys out, though, HAC supporters were out in numbers big enough and loud enough to warrant comment from the announcer.

!http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4077/4794857181_5d18ed3cc1_m.jpg!

 

Chicago Criterium Cat 4/5 Heat 2

Last night I entered race #9 of the 10 I need to upgrade from Cat 5  to Cat 4 on the road.  One more to go,  which will be checked off the list this Saturday at the Tour of Elk Grove, as I race back to back in both Cat 5 races at 9am & 9:30am respectively.

I had spectated and pre-rode the course on 7/1 earlier in the month to determine if it was safe.  I liked the course, some-what technical with good speed, which I felt would play well to my strengths.  Signed up for the B race with Mike Hemme and 48 other riders.  As always seems to happen, I line up in the third row to the far outside.  Whistle blows, and off we go.  The first few corners are dicey, as people are hitting the brakes where they shouldn’t be.  Lap 1 goes by with no incident, and people start settling in.  I move up into the top 6 on the road and am sitting in comfortably. In hind-sight, I should have just stayed here all race to contest the win, but Hemme was off the front and I wanted to try to bridge up to him.  So, like the idiot I am, I flew off the front for about a lap, bringing the field with me.  When I saw everyone still behind me, I wanted others to pull.  Being only 4 laps in, it was hard to convince people to take over the lead and the pace quickly fell.  I dropped into the pack to recover.  Unfortunately, I dropped too far back and would have had to make some big gambles to get back to the front.

The laps just flew by as they tend to do when you’re red-lined. Every lap I’d hear Julie yell encouragement and tell me to move up.  I wanted to, but it was hard to go around more than 2 people a lap.  So, I was content to sit in and rotate around the people directly infront of me. Came up on 3 to go, and Hemme’s tire blows coming into the start/finish straight.  I figured there would be a hell of an accident.  Luckily everyone made it through just fine. The next 2 laps were pretty much all-out and I just focused on beating the guy in front of me (which coincidentally happend to be team-mate Danny).  I did beat him on the last lap and with no results up at this time, I figure I finished in the upper 20’s / lower 30’s out of 50.  Not glorious, but another great work-out done and one step closer to attaining my goal to upgrade.

Saturday will bring race 3 and 4 in one week’s time. Then it’s time for a break until Oakbrook or Cyclocross.  Look out dirt, the big blue Half Acre train is coming to tear you up, and I can’t wait!

-Dave Bowers

 

Soldier Field: My First Crit

I can get talked into trying just about anything, but that doesn't mean I'll be good at it.  My first crit was basically a 45 minute solo high tempo effort, with a few sprinklings of working together and completely blowing the "crit etiquette" thrown in.

It's quite handy to have racing just 3 mi from our house, kudos to the promoter for a great location!  Left work after 5pm, so I got to the venue just as the loudspeaker blared, "10 minutes till women's races!"  Crap.  I had time to ride the teeny loop twice, paying close attention to what I thought were the best lines through the corners - tight, fast, graceful.  I lined up in the second row of just 9 riders, warned everyone that it was my first time, and we were off.

Or, sort of.  I'm used to trail-race-style hit-it-hard race starts and jockeying for place before the singletrack.  The women just sort of clipped in and sauntered off the line, and I found myself in the front.  For three turns, I took my choice lines and held in.  At turn four, I got schooled.  The field swung way wide - what are you riding, a school bus? - and as they dove into the turn, there was no room for me on the inside.  I looked and they weren't making space.  I hit the brakes, trapped.  "You have to ~garbled~," someone shouted at me.  1/2 lap in, I was off the back.

I chased hard and got back on.  I found myself just freewheeling through the corners, surprised at the wide, conservative lines the field took.  For two or three laps, I got dropped on the straights but picked it back up in the corners.  But soloing down the straights to get back on was tiring, and it was sort of getting old.  By the end of lap 3, I was off the back.

The rest of the story is kind of dull.  I was wishing for a log to go over, or a tree not to run into, or at least a cute little bridge that makes a cool hollow woody noise as you roll over it.  Instead, it was just push-push-push.  High tempo.  Tight corners.  Shifting once a lap, then back.  Shouting at people who shout at me.  Making the metal sign at the announcer.  Goofy fun.

I ended up passing one woman, but she was in the 1/2/3 field, so it didn't count.  I had the woman in front of me, a 4, in my sights for a while, but she latched on to the leaders as they came by and was soon out of sight.  I had forgotten that you could do that.  (I even shouted at the official's stand to double check, but got no response... something about being 20 min into a zone 5 effort makes me forget things.)

And so it goes, 8th of 9, or 6th of 6 in the 4's field.  My first crit.  Would I do it again?  Well, it beats a long tempo workout on the path.  But I'll stick with my dirt. 

-Julie Popper

 

Soldier Field Cycling Series turn 4 - avoid port-a-johns

A full field @ 75. Only my 3rd criterium; not as nervous as the June 17 event. From the gun, I decided to contest a minor attack in 2nd lap then proceeded to lead out 2 more. Feeling too good, I tried to get Tom to tag team off the front, but he had the wisdom to hold back. Then…I fell back into peloton in the 1st prime lap.

As on 06-17, someone took turn 4 too hot and crashed (almost into the port-a-potties). This time it happened in the 2nd half of pack towards end of race. Nobody else affected and no injuries. And, kudos to the Chicago Park District/Soldier Field for filling the huge pothole between turns 3-4.

A rider directly behind me much of the race with deep carbon wheels seemed to produce a small cloud of smoke in each Turn 4; that was interesting.  I guess my low-tech conventional wheels didn’t slow me down too much.

Moved into the 1st half of the peloton in last 4 laps. Did not quite catch up with Joe and Tom. I never saw Jeremiah after the start (though our basic strategy was to stay in the 1st half). Safely finished around 30th. It was an exhilarating experience; can’t wait until next race.

Awesome representation from our Half Acre Cycling mates: Dave, Vince, Helge and Zach.

Very well run event; there were even sponsors with ‘podium girls’ June 17 (Pepsi Max) and July 1 (Tequila Don Modesto). Almost like the grand European tours.

Looking forward to a bit of team strategy in future races. And, we should figure out how to bring in some Half Acre Beer to these events; hey, it’s a football stadium parking lot!

 -Jeremy Treister