Sunday, September 16, 2012

At last, indeed

I have loved Jackson Park ever since I arrived in Chicago in 1981.  In the eighties I played & coached countless soccer matches there.  Sunday mornings in summer I represented the illustrious Hyde Park club El Gringo Es Mandingo in the Third World Soccer League, and I coached the Mount Carmel Caravan JV squad in Jax Pk.  But that was another sport & another century.

Kudos to XXX Racing for making the very best of the pitifully small bit of the park allotted to us for this year's relay & series opener.  I like the twisty courses XXX always lays down.  Well, in spite of what I consider home field advantage & a successful relay with Scott a few weeks ago, I had a miserable series opener.  I started well & was in 3rd position for the 1st half of lap 1, then wiped out in turn 17 (or so).  The hard chase revealed that I'd over-estimated my fitness anyway, and then I stacked it into the double barriers on the penultimate lap.  Thanks to Matt Caron for his encouragement, his sage advice, and for capturing the moment.

Still, it was a blast to race with my 40+ cronies again, 80 of us in all.  I finished 13th.

And it was great to see so many colleagues & teammates racing well.  Congratulations to Bill, Rachael, Rachel, Dan, and David.  Big props to Tim, Richard, & Ellen for claiming front-row positions in DeKalb.  And to Scott for bringing home a handsome new jersey.

At last!

The Chicago cyclocross season is underway at last! It was great to see a younger generation of 'cross racer stepping on to the elite podium in yesterday's opening round of the ChiCrossCup. While I was born in 1969, I was joined on the podium yesterday by Paul Mumford of the Chicago Cuttin' Crew and David Lombardo of Vedigris-Village CX who were born in the 80's and 90's respectively. I suspect it won't be long before old folks like me are pushed off the elite podium for good. As well it should be.

Series leader jerseys are new this year. Photo: Ellen
Our hosts xXx Racing put on another great event. We had 662 preregistered riders, the highest in CCC history. I don't know the total number who lined up to race, but given the gorgeous weather, I suspect it also set a CCC record.

The double barrier. Paul is to my left, "rocking" the pink Cuttin' Crew jersey. Photo: Ellen.
My race was really, really fun. After about a half a lap it was Paul Mumford and I together at the front for the rest of the race. Paul was absolutely schooling me in the tighter turns. It's not usual for me to lose time in the technical bits and have to try to make up gaps in the power sections, but that's exactly what was happening yesterday. It's great to be pushed that way and I think I did manage to settle in and minimize the damage in the tighter turns and keep on even terms with Paul in the faster, sweeping turns by the second half of the race. Regardless, it was a wake up call of sorts for me and I'll need to work on my technique if I hope to stay in contention with Paul and the rest of the field this season. It's going to be exciting.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Warm Up 2 - Jackson Park Relay

Super fun! Thanks to Scott for putting us in 1st or 2nd position at the start of each of my laps in the 30+/40+ relay.  1st through 4th were never more than a few seconds apart for all 9 laps.  Only on my 4th & final lap did I hand off to Scott in 1st position. 
Having ridden disc brakes all summer, I guess I forgot how to re-mount safely & gashed my knee on my cantilever in my last lap - while making a pass, so well worth it!
Staying around for the podium shot was nearly a big mistake.  I only managed to get on my Eurobike flight with the help of a kind counter-to-gate escort from Swiss Air!

Aiming for inside corner on lap 8

Made it!