9:30 Saturday morning, we leave Wilmette. In the pouring rain and dark skies, we head to Winfield and wonder if the race would even go off. At 11:00, we make it to the course, and the rain begins to soften. Throwing on waterproof jackets, we decide to take a few laps around the course, to test things out. After determining tire pressure, the decision is made. We’re racers. And we head to registration.
The clouds begin to thin out, and the skies become brighter. The rain stops. Our jackets come off and the numbers are put on. The radar is clear and our 30 minute race is scheduled to start only 10 minutes behind schedule. The pavement even dried.
Graham brings himself to the start line, ready to make his criterium debut. I roll up to the line, ready to defend my national title in the 15-16 age category. Before we know it, the race is off and running.
The 73 feet of climbing per lap takes it’s toll on lap one, as an attack forms from a rider half-way through lap one. Graham falls off the back to fight it out for 5th, while myself and 3 other riders continue on.
2 laps later, the same rider who made the attack falls off the back in a climb, leaving me to fight it out against a younger junior and an older junior, neither of which are in the 15-16 category. We continue to work together until the other two riders pull away on the downhill (where I became very nervous of crashing) and leave me to race alone. I come across the line with a smile on my face, and quickly come back around to cheer Graham across the line.
During the podium presentation, I was informed that the category for this race changed from last year to a 15-18 year old category, putting me in second and Graham in fourth.
For the first race, Graham did spectacular. I cannot wait for us to get another opportunity to run wild around the course, and work together for a team win.
The next race is the Waukegan Criterium, starting a 9-day, 7-race series. Stay tuned for our next report!
Are you between 10 and 18 years old? Do you enjoy the freedom of the open road and meeting new friends?
Learn more about Junior rider Joe Sullivan.
Check out these recent race reports also by Junior rider, Joe “Pepe” Sullivan:
Joe “Pepe” Sullivan is a junior cyclists from Evanston, Illinois. He goes into the 2014 cycling season as a 16 year-old, riding a Specialized Venge, named “El Diablo Dos.” Joe races for Higher Gear in both cyclocross and road. You can find him most of the summer and many weekends in our Wilmette location.