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A Road Race in Crits Clothing

But ho hey, this is being classed as a road race. So we know what that means. Yes, half way around the meandering but fully blocked off course is a little kicker of a hill. A 30 sec leg burner that will leave the rider gasping. The rest of the course is lots of left right lefts along suburban streets giving a breakaway a chance to get out of sight

No Recce and then a Pip

Crash. The sound of carbon and rider hitting the deck and sliding. Just ahead. 
One has overcooked a turn, collected another and two more pile right in. I'm just behind. Brake. Swerve with surprising coolness over to the inside. Dodge the loose bike that slides across the road . . .

Cheesy Rider

Cheesy Rider

While riding through the countryside is far superior to tight criterium courses, there are inevitably hills, organizers simply cannot resist them, and my 190lb body doesn’t really do hills.

Back to the Future, a Race Revived

Intelligentsia Cup - Tour Of Glen Ellyn 2016

It’s 1972 and the townsfolk of Glen Ellyn have removed their chevvy vegas and olds cutlass’ from the roads around their pretty, eponymous lake, to make way for a bike race.
Some of the houses fronting the course sport Nixon signs, not many McGovern ones. The high school is closed for the summer, its lofty towers empty. The kids are at the pool, or dazed and confused smoking weed behind the library.

The riders are tuning up their 6 speed Campagnolo or Huret gears, pumping up their silk tubs, tweaking the 36 spoke aluminium hoops that cost a weeks paypacket. Short shorts and wool jerseys are sported as the shaggy haired riders line up helmetless astride their steel machines to take on the course….

It's 2016 and I’m in the middle of a three wide cornering pack on the same course. I’m banging through the sram shifts while praying my GP4000s hold. A stench of pads on carbon rims pervades, as the colorful helmeted lycra clad pack race on up the hill astride carbon frames. Kids are playing pokemon go, while trump and clinton signs are a rare sight in a few of the immaculate gardens. The residents japanese and german cars are re-exported to side roads for the day.

So it’s back to the future today at the 70s revival of the Tour of Glen Ellyn. Unlike that simpler time this course isn’t simple. It’s impressively long and tough, with a technical layout of turns and hills in beautiful parkland around the lake. And it’s hard to get right. Some of the turns are downhill chicanes, the hills are little kickers that exhaust, there’s a 120 turn with a high curb to watch for by the high school, a pinching roundabout, a rough road on the fast downhill sweeper, oh and a U turn at the fastest point on the bottom end of the course. As a challenge it’s up there with the Glencoe long course, maybe beyond. They didn’t mess about in the 70s.

My race is stacked with solid mid-west contenders and a few from further, and they pace up the opening laps. Nobody wants to yield, so it’s 3 wide and hairy through turns, going so deep on the tires, bumping shoulders on occasion. After a few laps I’m feeling exhausted and slipping back in the pack. I take a gamble on the so called gamblers hill, a lung-bursting lunge up to first place and then racing line round the bend to the start finish. I’m back in contention and glad I made that move, as soon the sound of crashing carbon hits my ears. Don’t look, do go hard. This race is terrifying and awesome.

Coming up to the bell lap I’m maybe 5th wheel. Two go down ahead on the last turn. A sickening spill, and a front wheel shoots across the road still attached to shattered forks as I go by. Big crash. Up to the high school jinking right left over the roundabout then under the trees at full gas down to the U bend. 3 wide of course and I’m in the third row of riders. After some inevitable argy bargy I’m on the outside - where I don’t want to be, and take the turn bracing for dubious lines wiping me out. Make it round using the gutter and I’m locked on the wheel ahead, but the gambling money is going around on the left as we turn up the hill. I’m blocked and losing places by the second. Wait, there’s a sliver of space on the right opening up, a got wind rider sees it and accelerates into it. I follow and get back some slots before the last turn. Turn hard and sprint my exhausted body over the line in 8th.

It’s been a privilege to ride this revived old course, imaging the old champions and 70s heros who preceded us, and the superb challenge they established - so different from many modern 4 corner three quarter mile flat criteriums. So vivre this tour, lets keep it out of the vault from now on.

P8 of 50+ starters
~Bevan Brookfield


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


Tour Of America’s Dairyland: Bayview
Jun 26th 2015
Masters 35+ 

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.

-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.