Timing and location are everything
By Jonathan Dugas | May 4, 2008
Race name: Vernon Hills Men's 4/5
Race date: Sunday, May 4, 2008
First let me say that the Vernon Hills race was really great. Pretty well organized, excellent road surface, and a smooth course owing to its two 90 degree turns and two sweeping turns.
I did not race Baraboo the previous day, but I heard the weather was crap. Therefore I was pleased that on Sunday we had excellent conditions---sunny with a shifty and building breeze.
The wind was almost bang on your nose down the finishing straight and after turn one. Together with an aggressive pack this made it difficult for any breaks to stick. Calvyn, Peter Strittmatter and a Pegasus rider found ourselves with a small gap early, but could not get organized quickly enough. A short chase ensued and we were back in the bunch. At that point I realized a break was an impossibility, and was happy rather to fight for good position in the pack.
The importance of timing: if one knew where to sit on each leg, then it was very easy to minimize the wind. The required some anticipation as the pack rounded each corner, but with some simple moves I was able to stay off the wind each time.
I made sure I sat in the top ten, and down the back leg with a tailwind I made up places after occasionally getting pinched and losing places. A few attackers had their go throughout the race, but I patiently let them die before getting caught. It always came back together.
With two to go an unattached rider made a superb attack and got a gap. There was a lukewarm chasing effort, and I stayed in the mix up front. Just when I thought he was going to stay away for the win, we caught him halfway thru the last lap.
Now, the importance of location. . .I was sitting in about 5th or 6th wheel, and one rider took a leap before the last turn. The race was on, but I knew he would not last. Just after the last turn a bulky Illinois Tech rider came sailing past me, and I knew that was my wheel!
I grabbed it and gave it horns over the last 150 m, throwing my bike on the line for what I thought at the time was 3rd, 4th, or 5th---it was close! In the end I eeked out a 2nd, and was very very pleased with that.
Thanks to all the guys who rode in that race. Calvyn put in some big efforts on the front the keep the pace hot, so well done to him for sacrificing himself for the rest of us.