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intelligentsia cup

Cyclocross in July

Cyclocross in July

It’s a brave new dawn at the Autobahn, essentially a fancy country club, but instead of golf holes, it has a motor racing track. We have the whole place. To. Our. Selves. And that includes the full length course.

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.


Elmhurst Intelligensia Cup
Masters 35+ 

Elmhurst seems to embrace bike racing one day a year with a gusto, turning over their roads and parkland, half the police force seem to be helping or strutting about, and the fancy publicly owned mansion is made available for spectators and VIPs to drink and watch the racing.

It's a great day, 90F and sunny. The freshly laid tarmac around half the course is black and simmering, oh and super smooth. Baby’s bums envy it.  I’m the only HACer in this one, but XXX Tracy and 10 Speed Matt who I know are here, and Tracy has been doing the whole series and proposes a breakaway attempt with 4 to go to neutralize a hot sprinter who’s been winning.

Off the line into the neighborhood and its fast but the longer straights suit me well. Lug up to speed and then get some benefit, blow past people before settling into a high placed spot and turns that need no braking, even the interesting left right jinking chicane. I’m feeling so good I decide to do a little salute on the front, pulling to P1 and pushing a little to pass the start finish line first and prod the announcer into giving me a mention. 

Look around and I’m 10 yards up from a sluggish looking group.  Well, whatever I carry on enjoying the super smooth tarmac, the chicane is particularly exhilarating taken with formula one lines. Another lap and what was never intended as a breakaway has gone on way too long, even if I’m just tooling along barely above training ride pace. I’m hoping a prime is announced. No such luck so I reduce speed to training in January pace and get caught. Pass the line and now a prime is announced. Great timing.
Its a fun race unfolding, smooth and a couple of digs at the front but no serious escapes. We are closing in on 4 to go and I’m on Tracys wheel ready, then a minor disaster. Front wheel skids out on a hot cover plate. Whoa. I hold it but my line is majorly compromised and I loose about 10 places. Luckily nobody collects me.

I’m rattled and picking up the pieces. I get it back together and surge up into the lead on the backstraight, but there’s no reaction. The breakaway is not going to happen.
Next to last lap and I’m feeling good. As usual nobody wants to work and I’m too far back, so I take literally 20 places in one blast, dropping into the lead just before the chicane. Now I always thought I was a fairly rubbish bike handler, but this time I nail it and scorch through with the perfect left right flick, and I’m 10 yards ahead just from that manoeuvre. So satisfying.

Up to the bell and I’m holding a decent top 5 place as the pace really hots up. 
The last long straight and I’m still 5th wheel. Last turn, lead rider skids on a cover plate too. I go up the inside slightly baulked and then pile on my sprint, but at least 3 go by, and I wind up 8th.

-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.