Since South Chicago Wheelmen decided to deviate from the ChiCrossCup formula and host the Indian Lakes race on a Saturday, I was able to sleep in and generally have a lazy Saturday morning - something that hasn't happened in several years. It was great! Pancakes, Awful TV, Newspaper, Coffee. Yes.
It was already 62F outside when I packed up the car to head out to Bloomingdale, and once there it was indeed a perfect day. I forgot the camera so no pictures, sorry. After pre-riding the course a couple of times and watching the 3's, Juniors/Women, and 1/2/3's race, I'd decided that heckling was far too much fun to miss the hecklespectacle of the 4b's race and went to registration to up my category to 4a.
Right off the bat, I was in a bad spot - 4th row before callups. Ugh. As we scooted forward from the holding pen to the start line, I was able to gain a row, but that wasn't of much comfort. This course didn't have much of a hole shot unfortunately, the first 100m or so were just a straight on sprint into a quick and technical 90 degree right, 180, 90 degree right section, followed by another fast 100m before a barrier and the run-up. With the tape staying wide throughout all of this, the first few minutes of the race were a battle to keep your wheels away from others while staying upright and making sure you weren't behind a bad wheel.
I ran the hill the first time because there just wasn't enough space to remount the bike... probably should have run it every lap. After descending and a quick loop around to the back side, there was another barrier and another trip up the hill, albeit the steeper side. The race was a little more strung out at this point so I found my rhythm and settled in. The first sand pit was rideable on the first lap, but I couldn't ride the last meter or so on subsequent laps - I ran the second sand pit every time. On the third(I think) lap, I got to my fateful last meter of the first sand pit, stalled, and attempted to dismount. In my haste, I felt my shoe make contact with something hard - helmet, perhaps? I looked back and saw there had been a guy on my wheel, and I'd just kicked him in the head. After a winded, brief exchange and apology we were off once again.
Pacing is difficult for me in Cyclocross because it requires a pretty immense effort for me to just make the bike move, but I was able to make some progress in this race. With 2 laps to go, I backed off just enough to only let 2 people pass me - this let me get some recovery time in for the last lap, where I drilled it as hard as I could. Coming in on the back stretch, there was a fairly long grass/pavement section where I dialed it up to about 30mph and passed 5 or 6 riders. I wasn't entirely sure that my brakes would slow me down in time for the 180 around the tree that followed, but I was able to bleed enough speed to negotiate that turn without problem.
In picking those guys up, I finished 48th out of about 70 starters. Not in the points or cash, but respectable enough for me.
In all - a great race hosted by the South Chicago Wheelmen. I'm hoping the ChiCrossCup can return here next year, especially since the amenities at this race were the best out of the entire series (Hot Tubs and a Heated Locker Room!).
Oh yeah, and I didn't break a thing, despite numerous heckles encouraging me to "destroy that bike!"