Here’s a quick report on the 30+ race at last weekend’s state RR championship. Mark and I have been targeting this race since the beginning of the season, and we had Steve and TJ there to support us. The course was the same as in past years – seven laps of a ~6 mile rectangle that ended with a steep climb, leveling out about 200 yards before the finish line. Early breaks have decided the previous two editions of the race; last year John Van Susteren soloed away on the first lap, and the year before, Chris Halverson and Robbie Ventura got early and were never seen again. The weather was ideal – sunny, mid 70s, and only a slight headwind between the first and second corners.
There was a field limit of 75, which appeared to have been reached. I’d estimate that nearly half the field consisted of Illinois riders. Our main competition was the Johns (Voight and Van Susteren) from LAPT. Other notables included Robbie Ventura (VisionQuest), Rob Brugman (Hampshire), and Pete Crowe (Wheaton Franciscan). My plan was to attack on the hill on laps two, four, six, and (if need be) seven. I positioned myself poorly on the second lap, though, and decided to make my first effort on lap three. This I did, and an unfamiliar Endeavor guy (who later introduced himself as Radek Vopalka) and I got a decent gap. I was surprised that none of the other contenders came with me, but I decided to persist and see what kind of reaction came from the field. Mark radioed up to me when the gap reached 10 seconds, then 20, then 30. At the same time, he was doing a masterful job of what John Voight later described as “being a moving roadblock”.
It was tough to get out of sight, but with three races on the course, and numerous dropped riders scattered throughout, I guess we were somewhat able to camouflage ourselves among the lap traffic. I don’t know if we got much more than a minute, but with one lap to go, it looked like it would be enough. My breakaway companion had been struggling for a while, so I was confident that I wouldn’t get punked at the line. All the same, I punched it one more time and got clear on our last trip up the hill. I crossed the line alone and gave a meager but joyful two-armed salute.
Thanks to Mark, TJ, and Steve for supporting me on the road, and to Kelley for doing a great job with hand-ups and general encouragement.