CAT 3 Race Rundown: Narrated by Travis Miller
GENEVA, IL — I went down to Geneva (Chicago) for the first day of superweek. The race is in a nice neighborhood and the course was interesting with many turns. The course was different from last year. Now it included a series of 5 turns in quick succession before a short finishing straight. We would be racing for 35 laps of this 8-turn course.
Many of the Geneva locals and Chicago racers/family/friends were out to watch the day’s races. The weather was near perfect – bright and sunny in the low 80’s. On my way back from registration, a racer I did not know from one of the Chicago teams asked me how many others from our team would be racing. He was relieved when I told him it was just me.
The pace was fast from the gun, and I spent nearly all of the first 20 laps at the very back of the field. I made my biggest hydration mistake ever this day; assuming I was very well-hydrated and would only drink one bottle during the race, I dumped out my 2nd bottle of water near the starting line while waiting to begin. After only 10-15 laps, I’d drank nearly all my bottle and felt dehydrated already. I was also burning too many matches at the back of the field when I had to close gaps of other riders dropping off the back. So far the race was far from ideal.
With 15 laps to go, the original field of 40 racers had been whittled down to only 20. The riders who had been attacking or pushing the pace seemed to have enough of it and the field slowed down. This gave me a chance to rest and refocus. I reminded myself that I hadn’t driven down to Chicago to ride at the back of the field.
With 9 or 10 laps to go, I moved up to the front of the field on longest straight. My intention was to move up and hold position for the sprint or to follow late breaks. I got to the front going just slightly faster than the leader, a Ritte rider, and rode another 100 meters to a corner before realizing I had a small gap.
I rode fairly hard for 2 laps, but wasn’t going all out since I expected to be caught and wanted something left for the sprint. I gained a few more seconds each lap. One rider tried to bridge when I had about 10 seconds, but he only made it half way. With 8 laps to go I was nearly out of sight and decided to give it 100%. By 4 laps to go I had 35 seconds on the field. The technical course helped, and I felt very strong once I really got going. I was going through the 5-turn section substantially faster than the field had all race. When you see a very likely victory for yourself, riding at your limit is pretty easy. My hydration problem turned out to be a non-issue for this breakaway of only 10 laps.
It seems with attacks, one of the most important elements of making it stick is very hard to get right – attacking when the field will not chase you hard. There were a number of well-represented Chicago teams (Bicycle Heaven and XXX each had 5+ guys), but they did not seem to chase much.
The big lead on the field allowed waving to onlookers who had been encouraging me, and pumping up the crowd to cheer during the last few laps… plus one of those long 100 meter victory salutes.