Monarch caterpillar that Jason and the kids found on a hike
Finally I got to head up to my teammate Sarah's neck of the woods for some racing. Sarah is from Michigan and always seems to have another 3 hours attached to any travel we do as she's always driving out of her way to come to Chicago so she can travel with us.
Jeannie, Sarah and I raced the NRC Grand Cycling Classic in Grand Rapids, MI on Sunday and the Gaslight criterium, a very nice, well attended local race on Sunday.
Sarah graciously invited me and Jason and the kids to stay with her boyfriend Robert Hughes, one of the sponsors of the Bissell Cycling Team, who just happens to have a lovely home within 15 minutes of both races. We arrived at the race venue during the men's race and it looked a bit dark. We parked in Robert's office garage and as we started to walk to registration, Sarah asked if I thought we should grab an umbrella. "Naw" I said......within 5 minutes it was sprinkling and we arrived on the course to see the first of the multiple crashes happening as the light sprinkling caused the oil to be lifted front he streets making a slippery mess and crash fest for the men. Soon the skies opened up and all hell broke loose! The wind came and knocked over the barricades and they had to stop the race with 6 laps to go. It went from being humid and hot to pretty darn cold. Sarah and I registered and then went back to Robert's office to stay dry and get warm clothing.
They restarted the men and gave them an additional 30 laps. Our race was scheduled directly after theirs and we ended up being delayed by only an hour. We were at the start finish in time to see the amazing sprint of Team Bissell's Eric Young come across the line for the win in the Pro Men's National Championship! At the start of our race it was not raining, but the streets were still damp, though not so slippery since it had rained hard enough to wash them clean, and there were a few puddles here and there.
Sarah, Jeannie and I went to the line. For me personally, I had no idea why to expect. I had gone off coffee the Tuesday before and had a terrible week training and a dismal night at the track the Thursday before. However once the race started I felt ok!! It was a small field and I had no trouble staying attached and moving around. At one point I found the front of the race and as we crossed the start finish they announced a prime so I turned it up a bit and was able to lead Jeannie out to snag $100. I didn't see Sarah for a bit and then there she was. I asked her if she was down a lap and she said no, that she'd had a mechanical. So exciting!! In the final lap I felt good but got nervous in a corner and allowed myself to get pinched and had to slam on the brakes and lose a ton of momentum. As a result I skated in at 20th place which stunk but actually I was quite happy with the race given the year I've had and especially the week. Jeannie finished in 9th and Sarah was right there in 23rd.
That night we headed back to Robert's house and got to help celebrate the Bissell team's win at a super fun party with the riders, staff, and friends of the Bissell Pro, Elite, and Amateur teams. What a fun experience!! Good times.
The next day we headed over to the lovely area of East Grand Rapids for the Gaslight crit located right on Reeds lake. There was a nice turnout for the women's race. Mainly due to a strong local presence plus a few of us leftover from the previous day's race. It was a fun race. Sarah and I raced for Jeannie, covering all the moves and throwing down some ourselves. I took a flyer for a lap and a half but was chased down. jeannie was 5th, I was 11th, and Sarah was 14th.
I really haven't spent much time in Michigan and it is such a lovely place. Props to Robert and Sarah fro putting up our entire family, and I can't wait to go back next year!!