Thursday, August 23, 2007


Downers Grove is famous. The course has been used for decades to decide the Elite National Criterium Champion and the Professional National Criterium Champion. It's a big deal.

However, the course itself is infamous: there is always a massive pileup in the final turn before the false-flat uphill finish. It has been said the the top five into the final turn are the guys on the podium after the race, and the guys just after that are in the hospital. Guess which group I was in.

The race was pretty hard the entire time. Because it was pouring rain, the corners caused an intense accordion-effect that served to string the field out. I love my SRM, because without it I would have just thought the legs were not there that day--it turns out they were, because the race was literally the same power output for two hours as the night before in the Pro-Am with a stacked field. I think this was in part to the terrible rain--normally sprinters can sit in at Downers Grove, which is why the final turn is so hairy (everyone is still fresh), but this time it was a strong man's race.

Here are some of my SRM measurements from the race. The average power for the Pro-Am the night before, in much nicer weather, was 291 watts! Another interesting measurement was the percentage of the race that I was putting out 0 watts, either coasting or soft-pedaling: 26.3%!!

The race was pretty sketchy compared to the night before--I guess that is to be expected, since most of the amateurs were shelled out of the race pretty early on in the Pro-Am. The race Sunday was harder because it was not as easy to carry speed through turns: one could not count on the guys around him to hold their lines or even stay upright.

I stayed near the front for most of the race, but basically didn't have the legs to be where I should have been going into the final turn. The uphill through the finish and then to the top of the course, where there is a 180-degree-left-hander, was just taking it out of me, and on the final lap I just couldn't move up through the downhill sections leading into the final turn.

I found myself in the Danger Zone.

I am the guy in the background, wearing blue and red, trying to figure out how to stay alive through the carnage in front of me.

Another interesting metric: we were traveling at 32 miles per hour into the final turn, in pouring rain, over paint lines.

This is priceless! We were racing for the final podium spot, 5th place.

I saw the the guys had gone down and needed some help getting up, so I kindly got off my bike to give them a hand. Yeah right!

Final interesting metric: somehow I managed to slow down from over 32mph to just 15.6mph when I crashed. Unfortunately I landed right on my head, pretty hard, and was taken away in an ambulance on a stretcher. I got stitches in my left eyelid (yes, LID, not brow), a CT scan, and some Darvoset (that stuff works well!).

It was an unfortunate end to a soggy weekend. However, there were three upshots:

1) I raced elbow-to-elbow with the big boys on Saturday night, in terrible conditions, and was in the top 30 after fighting my way from the BACK of a 200-person field

2) I had a couple very good conversations with Jonas Carney

3) my man Daniel Holloway won the race! We have had issues in the past, while racing as juniors, but Holloway is a classy guy and won a TOUGH race. My hat is off to him--I know what it feels like to be a National Champion, and I am very happy to see someone deserving of it get the win!

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