After doing 70 miles yesterday, I wasn't expecting too much in my race(s) on Sunday. With that said, I was encouraged by my new found "oneness" with the bike with my new Speedplay X2 pedals that I picked up along with new cleats. My old cleats and pedals were over 2 years old with at least 8000 miles on them. The X5 pedals I had were so badly worn that you could bend the it back and forth a bit between the pedal and the spindle. Thanks to Spin Doctor Cyclewerks for determining the cause of the squek and figuring out a way to remove my cleats from my shoes (the screw headss were so worn I couldn't get them out). I went in with a squeak. The identified the problem as the pedals. We figured we would try to lube them first, but after evaluating the pedals, it was determined that new pedals were the best way to go. Anyway, I tried the new pedals on Thursday's ride and immediately noticed an improvement, so that gave me a little bit of confidence going into today's race(s).
Paul and I drove up to Kenosha. We stopped and had lunch at my favorite spot to have lunch, Noodles. We got to the race about 90 minutes before the Cat 4 race time and got about 25 minutes of a warm up in. The wind was strong out of the SE, which we knew would affect the racing. All of the major players competing in the Tour of WI/IL were there. Right on time, we started our race of 45 minutes plus 2 laps.
I wasn't sure how this race was going to go, but it became quit apparent that there weren't going to be many attacks and they weren't going to be taken seriously. The wind was sure to kill any break, at least at the Cat 4 level. I also determined that you could be anywhere in the pack and still be within striking distance of the front with only 21 riders in the race. So... the race was relatively easy in that I felt strong for the finish.
With about 5 minutes left, Paul and I were at the back. Paul seemed a little concerned with this, but I told him we were fine. We would move up soon enough. We got the bell lap and the pace was pretty tame. I was in the top half. We came around turn 2 and the field slowed dramatically and I coasted in behind the 2 lead riders, but I was boxed in as they just had shut down the inside line, so I moved to the left to catch more of the draft. That was a bad move because the lead riders moved over and a train of riders came screaming through on the right. I managed to catch the end of that train, but had to give it a hard effort as I had lost all my momentum coasting up to the lead riders. I came into the home stretch and got passed by 2 other riders. Not exactly the way I wanted to end the race, but considering I am still at least 15 lbs more than last year, it was an uphill (slight incline), and I rode 70 miles yesterday, I can't really expect my legs to have or show a lot of snap. Lombard has a slight downhill finish, so I am looking forward to that. Anyway, Paul finished 3rd to hold onto his 4th place finish in the Tour of WI/IL. Congrats, Paul!!! I finished 9th.
Paul and I decided to do the Cat 3 race, also. This race was much harder with about the same number of racers (20). From the start there were many attacks. The accelerations were taking their toll on Paul and I. Paul told me that he considered dropping out at 20 minutes. I considered dropping out at 25 minutes. About the time we were thinking about dropping out, a break of 4 guys was up the road, never to be seen again. We also had a couple of DNF's and a few dropped riders well into the race. Again, Paul and I found ourselves at the back, but we moved up soon enough; one of us more than the other ;-). Going into the bell lap, Paul found himself at the front and I was fourth wheel. Paul pulled halfway through the backstretch when someone attacked. I responded with everyone else. After turn 3, the pace slowed again. I had a clear line up the inside, but thought I should wait a bit. That was a mistake because in retrospect, that would have been a perfect move. Someone else decided to take it as riders came screaming up the inside. I tried to re-accelerate as best I could, but I was pretty cooked at this point. I finished 13th and Paul finished 15th. Not bad for a couple of 4's that already raced once that day.
All in all, it was probably one of my best races this year. That isn't saying a lot, but it is encouraging for next year. I am sure if I don't take 6 months off from the bike this winter, that I will be much stronger next year.
Next up is my last race of the year which it the Fall Fling Crit #1.