4:30pm on Saturday, the day before the race, I got a text from a friend of mine, inviting me to race 16 hours later. I was in, and made sure I brought my teammate with me. Turns out, it was the perfect race for a two-man team.
El Diablo Dos is now equipped a little bit differently for race day. Instead of Zipp 202 tubulars, I’m riding a custom wheel build. H PLUS SON hoops are around a PowerTap rear hub and a Shimano 105 front hub. I like looking at power numbers during and after races, and the wheels also are the same aerodynamic style as the 202s. On these wheels are S-Works Cotton Turbo tires (as per recommendation from Specialized) and some Latex tubes (as per recommendation from Stuart). Cotton Tires are fast, Latex tubes are supple. It’s the perfect combination.
I woke up at 5am, and picked up John by 6. We flew down I-57 to Kankakee county, and got to course with 45 minutes to spare. In the car, we talked tactics, and agreed that I would race Junior’s, and he would race Men’s Category 5. Both fields took off together, but we would be eligible to win two state jerseys, and sweep the field.
There was a 2-mile neutral rollout before we began. We disregarded the team of 4 from Verge Racing (from Indiana) and any others who heard our plan. We watched over the course, and got a peek at the finishing climb: a 1.2 mile climb between 2% and 3% grade. No big deal.
At the top of the climb, the race began. Quickly we picked up the pace, and I told John to sit in. We pushed the pace, and dropped over half of the field within the first 4 miles. It was very easy to become a victim to a crosswind on open courses like Aroma Park.
About halfway through, our group of 6 was holding on strong: John, Myself, 2 Verge riders, and 2 individual riders. I decided to be a little cheeky, and took off on an attack, but nearly dropped my teammate. I toned down the pace when I was caught, and let the guys regroup. We dropped one of the individual riders, and then we hit the tail-cross wind stretch of the course. John began to fade off the back in the blistering pace, and I attempted to pull him back on. One of the Verge riders fell off the group, and I realized it was now or never to push back onto the front group.
I hauled, and quickly got to the leaders. After recovering a bit, I got up front and tried to slow down the leaders to get John to catch back on. My plan was foiled as the other two noticed I was looking back for my rider, and they took over again.
Coming into the last 4 miles, one of the two guys broke away, and I couldn’t keep him in my sights. I won the sprint against the other rider, taking 2nd overall, 1st in the Juniors. John took 4th overall that day, and was awarded the Illinois Champion jersey as the other two guys were from Indiana.
All the way home, we talked race tactics. We talked about what went well, what didn’t work out great and what we can work on. We wore our jerseys on a ride Monday. He called it 38-mile recovery; I call it 38-mile endurance. I really cannot wait to get racing with teammates again.
We race next weekend at Wooddale and Villa Park. If you are free and up for a fun race, both juniors and Men’s, join us. I will be doing both races, both days. Stop in to grab your new 2015 kit, and let’s race some bikes.
Check out my previous 2015 race reports:
- Intelligentsia Cup – Part 2
- Intelligentsia Cup – Part 1
- East Tosa Gran Prix
- Galena Omnium
- Glencoe Grand Prix
- Monsters of the Midway
- Lincoln Park Crit
- Barry-Roubaix gravel race
Don’t miss any of the 2015 cycling action!
- 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.