Chris Winn: Ramblings From The Road


27 July 2011


With Cascade falling by the wayside, I needed to keep the racing in the legs and Superweek was a pretty obvious choice to go to and get some more speed in the legs.  Two and a half weeks of 100km criteriums/road races dotted around the Milwaukee / Chicago, this series of races have been going for 42 years and is know for big fields and even bigger cash primes.  Kat and I ventured out for 5 days in the final week, and alongside the racing we were super exciting to catch up with the Kruse family, whom we've been friends since they hosted us back in 2008.

After a solid drive spread over two days we made it in one piece, and the first thing that hit us as we stepped out of the car was the wall of heat and humidity!  Wow!  The first day of racing was out at Whitnall Park, and was a course that I had done resaonably well at in the past, so was eager to give it a red hot go.  With a heat index of 110F (43C) it was some of the most oppressive race conditions I've ever faced.  With high humidity it was like racing in hot soup, and at the end of the day all I could manage was a top 20 after some aggressive racing by the Taiwanese National Team who were leading the overall.  Day two was much the same conditions and a good criterium course that suited me.  Unfortunately a good break stayed away, and I got well boxed in for the bunch kick.  Day three was a new circuit in Humboldt Park, and once again a small break took off and managed to lap the field towards the end of the race.  Disappointed to miss yet another move, but with the past success of V Australia and a certain Mr Cantwell at these races I was quite the marked man! 

Day four was perhaps one of the roughest, nastiest circuits I have raced on.  Full of potholes, raised pavement and sqaure edges I contemplated whether a 29er mtb with slicks would have been effective!  Sure enough a dozen or so laps in I hit an edge, flatting my rear tire instantly.  Waiting in the pits it was clear that I wasn't the only one, and my stay there was a little longer after neutral had run out of wheels with that many people needing assistance!  Waiting to be pushed back in, the danger break was already off the front and alarm bells went off in my head.  I figured I had two choices, roll back into the bunch, or go balls out from the pit to try and catch the break, or at least spark others to try and get this move back.  I chose the latter and went full noise to try and latch on.  Thankfully the plan worked and the bunch was whole again.  Once again more attacks kept the field stung out, and soon enough the rubber band snapped and I finally made it on the right side of the race.  From then on it was the odd time off no one wanting to commit to work fully versus guys sneaking off and everyone looking around for someone else to chase.  With no major teams represented this seemed to be the theme for the week, with no one really willing to commit or collaborate for a greater cause.  We lost two up the road due to the aforementioned tactics and it was going to come down to a bunch sprint for the rest of the places.  I had a crappy run outta the bottom turn and ended up 7th which was a bonus after feeling like death most of the race. 

The most exciting thing about our final race for the week, was that it included a Junior category, and our host family's son Spencer signed up for his first road race.  After spending the night prior tweaking his drivetrain for the gear restictions, I dont know who was more excited for the next day to come.  Waking up to a torrential downpour and smatterings of lightning, everyone was anxiously watching the radar hoping it would clear in time.  It did, and Spence was soon enough on the start line against a decent sized field for 15-18 year olds.  The first few laps the field were together, and then soon enough our worst fears were realized, with the bunch whizzing past minus Spence!  Yep, he had an 'off' in the third turn, and thankfully was okay and soon enough back in the bunch.  Coming into the final lap the race blew apart and he did a great job of holding his own against a more experienced field.  Good work mate!

My race I perhaps had the best legs of all week, and tried to stay attentive and follow those who had excelled the days prior.  It was a fun course, and I found myself more often than not telling myself how much I was enjoying it, maybe because it wasn't over 40deg!  Once again it came down to a bunch kick for the remainder of the spots after a small group stayed away.  Overall it was a fun week of good solid training/racing that hopefully will keep the form building into my next set of races.

The drive home featured a mega storm as we crossed though Iowa.  Our plans got shelved pretty quick and we dived for the nearest hotel exit!  This photo doesn't do it justice, but it was some of the heaviest race I've experienced.

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