Reposted from Hogan's HeroesI didn't think the day would ever come, but it did. School actually ended! My sacrificing of my social life and training paid off, and I'm now officially a junior. What a relief! Now training to become the next Cancellara commences (yeah right Hogan, in your dreams). I've got a big year of racing ahead of me and I'm going to need all the training I can get. On the schedule are races like Dairyland, Elite Nationals, Superweek, and Elk Grove, to name a few. I actually raced my first criterium of the year, Monsters of the Midway, a week after school got out. The weather was just great. I mean 50 degrees, raining, and 20 mph winds, what more could you ask for? I was planning on riding my new team Trek Madone for the race, but with all the great weather, I didn't want the sun to glisten off the frame and blind the other riders.
So maybe the weather wasn't so great and it scared away a number of riders, as we only had about 25 guys in our field. Still, there were some big names at the start line, including two Bissell amateur riders that no one knew but who obviously looked strong. About three laps in, one of the Bissell riders and Patrick Fasse of Bicycle Heaven attacked and had about a 5 second gap. I saw this was a good move and bridged up to them, then got to the front and started driving the pace. The Bissell rider wasn't looking too convinced that we would stay away and I wasn't trying to play any games this early in the race, so I continued to take some hard pulls until we got about 20 seconds on the field. For the rest of the race we were just dangling in front of the field about 20-30 seconds ahead, but I knew that if I could get the Bissell rider and Fasse to go all in then we would make it. It comes down to the final lap, and I stop pulling about halfway down the back stretch. We start to play "cat and mouse" and start to slow down. I looked back and saw that the gap was still at least 20 seconds, so I figured we couldn't possibly be caught going around the last two turns. I was wrong. As we exited the final turn with about 300 meters to go, I see Fasse open up the sprint. I was a little confused at his tactic because it was way too early to start the sprint. A moment later and I understood why he started sprinting already. I see a rider out of the corner of my eye sprinting all out, and then it hit me that the field had caught us! I of course take this as my cue to start my sprint, and was able to come around Fasse and the Bissell rider with about 50 meters to go to take the win. A little too close for comfort! Still, a win at Monsters is a great way to start the season and I was happy to know that the decrease in my training hadn't hurt me that much. I couldn't find a photo of the finish, but I'm pretty sure my victory salute was something along the lines of this:
Hey, it's better than having someone from the field pass you in the final meters for an embarrassing post-up like this:
To top it off I got to celebrate my 21st birthday the following Monday. I decided to go back to Purdue for the night and go out with my buddies and...well, I'll leave out the details. Anyway, the Tour de Champaign is this following weekend, something I've been looking forward to for a long time. I always enjoy racing in front of my family and friends, but most of all I enjoy not having to pack a bag and driving 10 minutes to the race. If all goes smoothly it's going to be a fun weekend of racing.