Friday night was the Lake Bluff Criterium which was on the USA Crits series and Saturday was the Glencoe Grand Prix which is part of the National Criterium Calendar. This meant national level competition in my hometown!
The Promoters of these races pulled out all the stops and each event was completely first class! In both cases the whole town was involved, there were street vendors and music festivals. This was the first year for Lake Bluff, and the 6th year for Glencoe. I've done Glencoe all 6 years and each year it has gotten bigger and better. Really fun at Glencoe they made trading cards for the racers, passed them out to all the spectators so all the kids were running around asking for autographs. I was given a welcoming hug by the promoter Jon Knouse at sign in, and interviewed over the loud speaker in front of the huge crowd by Kenny Labbe.
Ever since they announced this weekend I have been targeting these races and looking forward to them with much anticipation. Unfortunately things were not going well leading into the weekend. I'd been sick for 3 weeks with some kind of nasty lung thing and not riding in hopes of getting better. This did not predict good things, especially after my miserable attempt at racing the weekend before, with much easier competition. I was not optimistic, but I was determined to do the best I could.
Friday, warming up for Lake Bluff on the power tap confirmed that I was feeling MUCH better!! Did I dare get my hopes up? The course was very narrow with several very tight corners. The only wide part of the course was the start/finish stretch. I knew the start was crucial.
photo credit Ali Engin
At the start of Lake Bluff. Next to me is my buddy Leah from Psimet, and next to her is Cari Higgins from Exergy, who made the long list for the 2012 Olympic Track team.
I was nervous!
When the gun went off I was thrilled to get a great start! When I hit the first twisty section in great position I knew things were going to be ok! I so happy I yelled "F Yeah!" Sometimes I crack myself up in races. I settled in and rode the best I could. I saw the break go but could not respond. It was taking all I had just to ride around. I didn't go into the last lap in great position and I got pinched into the barricades and had to come to a complete stop. That really messed up my momentum, costing me some spots. Had I been able to be in better position that would have been avoided. I finished 19th, in the money, and while this was not the result I was hoping for this weekend I knew I did the best I could and was thrilled!
Lake Bluff really threw a great race with a street party and bands playing! After the race my George Garner Cyclery Track team was all there and we met up for a nice dinner. It was great to be social!
The next day at Glencoe, I was a little tired from Friday's effort. Not having ridden that long or that hard in a while took it out of me. My lungs hurt, but I was determined. The entire Spidermonkey team was out in full force, at the 312 tent as well as various locations all over the course. So many other friends were out there cheering as well--I heard you every lap- thank you! This course is a long course with a couple of technical down hill corners and a longish slight uphill section. In addition to being a National Criterium Calendar race, it was also our Illinois State Criterium Championships. Since I was the 2011 winner I got a call up. A call up is such a wonderful thing. I got an awesome start and was in perfect position going into the downhill corner section and it set the tone for the whole race for me. No break got away today and I was able to stay with the front group. I found out afterwards that half of the field we started with was dropped!
photo credit Ali Engin
the race was pretty much just fast
By the second half of the race I was getting tired. I rolled in at 18th place and again while this was definitely NOT the result I was going for at Glencoe, in light of how I'd been feeling lately it was definitely the best I could have done that day. I am optimistic that I'm on my way out of illness and look forward to some better results for the rest of the summer. Staying healthy is part of bike racing, and unfortunately sickness does happen.
me & Sidney hanging out after the race. Sidney was injured and unable to walk :)