It was about a hundred degrees at Snake Alley on Saturday, and I was totally unprepared. It's been a *long* time since I've raced in heat like that, especially with the notorious Midwest humidity, and I went from riding with Volodymyr Starchyk (badass Ukrainian national champion on Amore & Vita and eventual winner of the race) and Paul Martin (another storied strongman of domestic racing) to getting bogged down in "the field" halfway through and then pulling myself out with just five laps to go after some serious side cramps. It was frustrating to have good legs and just not prepare well (ice sock, cold water, two bottles, etc.) but having my one bottle of ice water eject on the second of twenty laps is just plain bad luck!
All that said, I know every other non-winner of The Snake has similar war stories--that's why that race is just insane and I want to win it at some point in the near future!
The rest of the weekend went very well, no breakout wins but just solid performances across the board with 6th in the road race (3rd in the 80kph downhill field sprint), 7th in the Melon City Criterium (in no-man's-land trying to bridge to the break a little too late) and 10th in the crazy Cage Match field sprint in Rock Island. I made sure to stay crash-free first and foremost since Nature Valley is just two weeks away, but I also wanted to get some great training in and rode a couple hours before each race. I love these races, they're like a homecoming for me, and it's awesome to reconnect with a bunch of racers I've grown up with through the juniors and espoirs. The racing is extremely fast and the Snake always makes Sunday and Monday a lot harder.
Here are some more pictures from Nikki of the Melon City race, thanks Nikki! The amazing shot at the top is from Michelle Blake, a member of Colavita Florida.