This weekend was the second Sunday of the infamous Parkside Training Criterium Series. Each year for the past 27, this series invades the campus of UW-Parkside in Kenosha, taking over their 1-mile oval access drive that rings their Quad. We get indoor registration, nice bathrooms, and a Student Union to hang out in ...
I generally avoid Parkside out of principle -- why would you want to race in often crappy weather in March, when you could be out on a long ride with a strong group? Each year, however, I find myself returning for one Sunday, just to get some racing in the legs before the "real" races begin. And this year, with ABD and Mesa making a Western swing in preparation for Hillsboro, I figured I really needed the speed!
To make it worthwhile, I signed up for the 30+ and the 1/2/3s races, giving me about two hours between to chill out and then re-gear for a second run. I pulled out the Waterford last week, and rebuilt it on Friday night, thankfully getting in a good Judson ride on Saturday to make sure it was set up alright. I completely changed the front end, swapping out a broken stem and raising the shift levers to the level of a 'cross bike -- it sort of rides like my Colnago now!
The 30+ race went well, as I covered and initiated a bunch of attacks in the early going. A break of 8 finally got clear, and after a few more attacks we shed one guy who coudn't seem to figure out how to ride in a paceline. We stayed together for the next half hour, with an attack going every once in a while, until I went hard on the backside to try to force a selection. It worked -- but not the way I wanted!
I came through the start/finish with a gap, with Stephen Spencer (Mesa?) chasing me down. As soon as he caught me, I sat up left while he sat up right. Mike Macedon (VQ, ex-Mack) sat up behind me, as breakaway artist Scott Pearson (Hinkley) rolled through with sprinter Rob Springer (Hayes) on his wheel. Instead of following the move, Springer rolled right, and all of a sudden Pearson had 50 meters. I was gassed, Springer declared that he was racing for second, and that was the race. Pearson rolled it, going clear and almost catching the main pack.
In the meantime, our little group stayed together, no one willing to work hard enough to get Pearson and risk their chances of getting blown. I threw in a couple of attacks but was well marked, and in turn I marked Spencer (a good breakaway guy) and Springer (just in case). Eventually, Springer got away for a short bit, but then Spencer and Macedon organized a chase with half a lap to go ...
... We came up to the last curve into the tailwind, with 450 meters to go. I was on Macedon's wheel, and Springer had just had enough rest to jump hard with 300 to go. He went right, in the gutter, and as soon as I sensed it, I went left ... AND I GOT HIM! At the line, I took second place by half a bike length, against a guy who is one of the strongest track sprinters at the Kenosha Velodrome. Sure, it's only March, but a podium always feels good!
Andy and I lined up for the 1/2/3s race, which was pretty negative. Puffer and an Endeavour guy got away for a while, but their own teammates chased them down, and everyone was yelling at everyone else through the whole thing, and racing like jackasses. I checked out with about 3 to go, lost my good position behind the ABD train, and just rolled it in with the field. Andy did alright, moving up at the right time but letting himself get boxed out in the final.
All in all, a pretty good start to the road season -- it's my best result ever at a Parkside event, and maybe Hillsboro won't be so scary after all? It was nice to get a result so early, and the sensations were good -- all that 'cross riding seems to be paying off!
ONLY 272 DAYS TO NATZ!!