Weather did a good job of spoiling Saturday’s 25th Annual Snake Alley Criterium, a race that in my book remains the best amateur race in the Midwest, if not the country.
Roads were dry for the Cat 5 and 4 races, but buckets fell during the 30+ and women’s open races, leaving behind dangerous, sloppy conditions for the 3’s and P/1/2 races. Some fields seemed smaller than usual, and the crowd lacked the usual energy and cheer.
Riders struggled to find traction climbing the Snake, and the following descent proved particularly treacherous. Yours truly ended his season early when he couldn’t negotiate the wet descent and took a hay bale head-on. (As I limped to the first-aid station, Brandon Krawczyk (LAPT), riding his last race as a 3, plowed into the same bale.)
Results for Chicago-area teams were as bleak as the weather.
» Chazz Martin (Smart Cycling) got the day’s only win by winning the 4-lap 13-14 juniors race.
» Will Nowak (Northwestern) came in the money in the 3’s with 14th, and Bryce Mead (Jelly Belly), formerly of ABD, got 8th in the P/1/2, finishing behind Minnesota’s Adam Bergman (Colavita). (I believe this is Bergman’s first win since coming back from a doping suspension.)
» Among local riders in the women’s open race, June Upshaw (Unattached) got 9th and Devon Haskell (Team Get a Grip Cycles) got 11th.
» Jonathan Dugas (XXX Racing-AthletiCo) and Adam Clark (XXX Racing-AthletiCo) got 3rd and 6th in the 5’s, respectively.
» In Friday’s road race, Jeff Schroetlin (ABD) and Mike Sherer (MetCycling) got 8th and 18th in the P/1/2 race.
» Above, Charles Biro (UCVC) braves Saturday’s heaviest rain in the masters 30+ race. He’d come in 12th and then 43rd in the 3’s race.
Snake Alley is unusual among cycling events in that the local media actually take notice. (The national criterium championship is in Downers Grove but Tribune and Sun-Times readers wouldn’t know it.) Don’t miss The Hawkeye’s reports on Friday’s pro road race, Saturday’s pro criterium, Saturday’s women’s race and Saturday’s amateur criterium. The Hawkeye also has some video: a Snake report, a road race report, and a preview of the Snake from Atlas Cycling.
I expect there will be many reports written about the Snake, so check back as I find them and add links.
Burlington Road Race reports
Ryan Bauman (ABD; P/1/2): “All of a sudden ... crash! Some overlapped wheels were the cause. It happens in bike racing. It just sucks to happen to me
in a break —
on the birthday.”
Steve Middaugh (ABD; 5): “There were quite a few squirrely riders looking shaky from the start, and sure enough about halfway through the race one of them lost their line and caused a big crash. Someone went off my back wheel, but I managed to stay upright. Sead said he missed a guy’s head on the ground by inches. Ouch.”
Amanda Miller (Atlas; 3/4): “Basically all I did was tried not to crash.”
Snake Alley race reports
Pete Basso (All9Yards; 4): “I could hear everyone yelling at me going up the Snake which always fuels your legs no matter how much energy you have left.”
Ryan Bauman (ABD; P/1/2): “I’m felling okay until my tire explodes on the finishing straight.”
Tamara Fraser (XXX Racing-AthletiCo; W4): “I finish IN LOVE with this awesome race. The most grueling and the most FUN race I’ve ever done.”
Jeff Holland (XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 4): “I climb the rest of the Snake with my heel hanging all the way out of my shoe, pushing like crazy with my toes and the front half of my foot.”
Amanda Miller (Atlas; W-Open): “Mid-race the skies opened up and it poured and got really windy. That was scary. I couldn’t see where I was riding.”
Bryan Moritz (DICE; 4): “I remember doing that race a couple years ago and taking 9th overall and feeling good about that, but this was AWESOME.”
Brian Morrissey (XXX-Racing AthletiCo, 3): “I only looked ahead at the ground, watching the brick pass my wheel, instinctively feeling my way towards the crest. The words of encouragement went into my ears and metabolized into pure power down my legs and out onto the pedals.”
Sean Noonen (Team 14; P/1/2): “Two people messed up their clip-ins in front of me, and that pushed me to the back ... I crashed once on the descent too, that was kinda dumb.”
Tristan Schouten (Trek/VW; P/1/2): “I went to hard on the first few laps and slowly blew up until I was just going backwards.”
Doug Swanson (Grandstay Hotels; P/1/2): “I rode really conservatively on the descent at Snake. By conservative, I mean slow. People were wondering why I was riding so slow, a couple people even yelled at me. But I made it up to the chase group after starting DFL, so I must have been doing something right.”
Melanie Wong (Team Get a Grip Cycles; W-Open): “I had to go up it slow, laborously, half-blinded by the rain. It was like clawing your way up the ultimate slip ‘n slide.”
The Editor (XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 3): “The hay bale saved my bike but I tumbled over, landing squarely on my left shoulder.”
Snake Alley photos