It was the tale of two races.
Split by over six hours, two races occupied my entire day, both of which had their benefits and their mishaps.
First, came the junior’s race. The routine Pop Tarts and Mountain Dew Kickstart was in the system by 6:00am, and by 7:30, I was on course warming up with our newest team member, Fiona. Fog became mist, mist became drizzle, and drizzle became clear in the minutes before the race. Standing water still provided obstacles in the corners, so as Fiona and I circled the course, we made sure we knew our lines for the corners.
Fiona had a fantastic race. Only doing some minor group riding, she jumped into bike racing head first, and is planning to race again quite soon. She finished first in her age group.
My race didn’t go as planned. Although the pace wasn’t high, I did way too much work, but let two opposing teammates sit in my draft, then work together to out-sprint me in the end. I took a somewhat disappointing third in my age group.
Lesson learned: yell at people to work, just like Tom Boonen.
My six hour break consisted of a ham sandwich, and a lot of thought about what happened that morning. Coming back to the course, I hopped on my trainer to warm-up this time, plugged in headphones, and got focused for a race to redeem my poor morning.
I got off the trainer, feeling very good, when I tried to shift, and the gears wouldn’t move. My cable had snapped, with less than five minutes before my race was to start. Hope seemed gone. There was no SRAM neutral support, and we had no mechanic, so I went with my instinct to Rob from Psimet wheels. He looked at me, chuckled, threw my bike on the mechanic’s stand, and told me simply, “pray.”
He was attempting to reroute a brand new cable into my bike. Officials at the start line began to call my name, asking where I was. The official came into the Psimet tent and gave me a friendly notice that she was delaying the race 2 and a half minutes: the equivalent time of a free lap. We continued to route the cable, with 30 seconds to go in my delay, Rob had already routed the cable, adjusted the shifting, and I was running over to the start line.
I was fiddling with my Garmin and GoPro while people asked if I had stopped the race for a tune-up. I laughed along, and at the whistle, my heart rate was already racing over 150 beats per minute.
My head was a blur, and it took two laps to regain focus. I then realized that in the wind, our race had split up into 4 groups: A lead group of two riders about 20 seconds up the road, a group of five about 10 seconds away, my group of about twenty riders, and then a scatter of people broken by the brutal winds.
I got to the front of my group, and called for a pace line, each person pulling ten seconds. Within the lap, we caught the group of five. By this time, we were halfway through the race, with only had 5 laps to go. I kept pushing to the front, to motivate the riders, however, it was no use. The breakaway of two went on to take first and second, and we were sprinting for third.
Coming into the last lap, I got into position. emembering what the riders on Wednesday Night Judson taught me about marking wheels, I picked the strongest rider, and glued myself to his wheel. I knew where my sprint would be, and kept waiting for the perfect time. I waited too long. I went from ready-to-sprint to boxed-in, and took thirteenth. Looking back, I probably had the legs to sprint from 250 yards instead of 200. Lesson learned: trust my legs.
Thanks to Rob from Psimet, and some very nice officials, I got to have the best race of my career so far. However, I’m still hunting to break the top 10 in a men’s race.
I’m excited to race this Sunday at Fox River Grove, then come back onto home turf for the Glencoe Grand Prix on May 30th. Stay tuned for my next race report.
The 2015 racing season is upon us! Don’t miss out on any of the action.
- If you missed it, check out Pepe’s race report from the Lincoln Park Crit.
- Here’s Pepe’s race report from the Barry-Roubaix gravel race.
- Sign up for Higher Gear’s weekly email newsletter so you don’t miss Pepe’s next race report.
- Looking for a great race or ride to enter or spectate? Check out the 2015 Cycling Calendar.
Joe “Pepe” Sullivan is a junior cyclists from Evanston, Illinois. He begins the 2015 cycling season racing as a 17 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 at Higher Gear.