It takes certain chutzpah to incorporate "super" into the name of your organization's inaugural event, but Sunday's Spring Super Criterium in South Beloit lived up to it. The course was an inspired choice, marshaling and other safety precautions were expertly executed, and registration was super organized. A positive vibe permeated the grounds, and the praise for Burnham Racing has been deservedly widespread. Indeed, congratulations are in order.
Happily, the event's racing was just as super.
Ladies in red took both women's races: Leah Sanda
(Flatlandia) and Francine Haas
(Alberto's) each won three-up sprints, Sanda in the women's 4's, Haas in the women's open. Note should be taken of Brynn Schwaba
(Chicago Cuttin' Crew), competing in her first race: Thanks to a van breakdown she missed her 4's race, but she made the separation in the open race and then sprinted for 2nd.
The most exciting race of the day may have come from the 5's. Fancy that! The 47-strong field maintained a spirited pace throughout and stayed mostly intact for the field sprint, a rarity in 5's races. The sprint also had one of the argiest, bargiest moments I've seen in any category. (See above.) Barreling toward the line with a fierce tailwind thrusting them forward, Ron Good
(Endure It!) and Bradley Gates
(Chicago Cuttin' Crew) traded more elbows than two fat men flying coach. To their credit, both riders kept not only their cool but, more important and miraculous, their balance as well, with Gates winning in a photo finish.
Right on their heels were the rest of the Cuttin' Crew leadout train: Jeff Perkins
in 3rd, Stan Schultz
in 4th and Darryl Van Essen
in 5th, a dominating showing for the scrappy new squad. The Cuttin' Crew would go on to deliver three of the top 12 in the 4/5's, thanks to another expertly choreographed leadout, and a 7th place in the P/1/2/3 race.
That wasn't the only great sprint to come from the lower categories. Nate Iden
(Spider Monkey Cycling) held off Peter Strittmatter
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo) in the capacity 4/5's race to earn that new team's first victory. In the masters 4/5, Lake Forest's Robert Ruggles
(Kettle Moraine Flyers) had enough of a gap over the hard-charging Jason Addante
(ABD) that he was able to do a nice long post-up at the line
The next two races saw well-timed attacks turn into successful breaks. Chris Mosora
(Lucas Oil) and Brian Haas
(Alberto's) took their leave in the masters 1/2/3 race, with Mosora taking the victory. (Here's video I took
of the field sprint.) A seven-man break got away in the 3/4's, including two members from host Vitaminwater-Trek. With his teammates and XXX Racing-AthletiCo asserting control of the field, Jeff Wat
(Vitaminwater-Trek) launched himself early to sprint to his first win as a 3.
While I was riding solo off the back of the day's final race, the P/1/2/3, Matt Brandt
(Mesa Cycles) opted to ride solo off the front
. He stayed off for a good portion of the race, with Scott Pearson
(Higher Gear) putting in a solo ride of his own for 2nd and Rob White
(ABD/Geargrinder) cleaning up the field sprint.
Thanks to primes and podium finishes from Tamara Fraser
, Strittmatter and others, XXX Racing-AthletiCo racked up 124.5 points in the World Bicycle Relief Team Cup, meaning a $220 donation will be made to WBR
in the team's name. Also notable was the second-place finish of the Cuttin' Crew, who despite being a 10th of the size scored 96.5 points. (In an unofficial 3rd was the always fearsome Unattached
In the day's other side contest, my Cat 3 Old Fart Challenge
, I count only one person who finished all three Cat 3 races. Congratulations, Charles Biro
(Team Get a Grip Cycles). I owe you a Clif Bar. Congratulations also to Mike Kelly
(South Chicago Wheelmen) and Teodoro Ramos
(Get a Grip Off Road Racing), who put up some outstanding results while doing all three Cat 4 races.
(Half Acre Cycling; 4/5): "Is it cross season yet?"
(Project 5 Racing; 3/4): "When we were coming out of the turn before the 'S' curve and up ahead you could see the seven guys just exiting the 'S' curve, I realized that was the move."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 4/5): "They did not realize that when you attack, it’s game on!"
(Project 5 Racing; 3/4): "Lesson learned: I's better to be dead weight on a break and get pulled back and let your teammates get on the next one than motor a break away and get popped."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; W-4, W-open): "I regret not attacking earlier. It was very windy and I wasn't sure I was strong enough to hold them off. But I'll never know now. Arg."
(Chicago Cuttin' Crew; 5, 4/5): "Passing Stanley, Jeff called out 'Snip, snip.' Stanley fell behind my wheel with Daryl to follow right behind. It was time for team sprints practice to be put into action."
(Vitaminwater-Trek; 4/5): "The pack faded in my direction and my front wheel clipped his rear derailleur. I somehow refused to go down and kept pushing it."
(GDVC; 3/4): "When I saw John Tomlinson
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo) move to bridge I was positioned perfectly to grab his wheel. Three or four riders got on my wheel and Tomlinson pulled us all up over the course of the next lap with an impressive display of power."
(North Branch): "The rider in front of me slammed on his brakes to avoid another rider. I wasn’t as aggressive on the brakes and ended up smacking him in the back. In fact, I think that there is some Cat 3/4 racer out them with an impression of my face tattooed onto his back."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 4/5, 3/4): "Every lap around, the pace would accelerate on the finishing straight and I'd move up 10 or so spots, and fight for good spots to hide from the wind the rest of the time."
(Team Pegasus; 4/5): "I can hear the familiar sound of carbon, metal and flesh meet pavement and I am glad I am ahead of it."
(Spider Monkey Cycling; 4/5): "It was great to have five guys in a race that actually know each other and talked before the race, as opposed to having no contact and just wearing the same outfit."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 4/5, 3/4): "It was 45 minutes of praying to stay upright on the turns as handlebars shook all around me and rims shrieked against brakepads."
(Unattached; 5, 30+ 4/5): "I raced single speed, with a straight bar. You run what you brung, and that's all I got."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 30+ 4/5; 4/5): "As soon as I returned tire to pavement the legs seized. Completely locked up. Helpless, the field wrung me out like a dirty dish rag while I was unceremoniously congratulated for not crashing in the grass."
(ABD/Geargrinders; P/1/2/3): "I even found a pair and went for two primes, and placed in the top three each time."
(Vitaminwater-Trek; 3/4): "Having teammates up the road is nice. It gives me something to do in a race. Otherwise I just sit around waiting for the sprint. It's boring."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 4/5, 3/4): "Jon’s breaks were heroic. Unfortunately blocking was near impossible with how wide the road was along with the Cat 4/5 mentality of 'I wanna drag the pack around'-ness."
(Half Acre Cycling; 3/4): "I'll spare you from all the clichéd euphemisms for being dropped, but whatever it's called, it still sucks and is incredibly demoralizing."
Scott Van Maldegiam
(Spin Doctor Cyclewerks; 30+ 4/5, 3/4): "These guys need to write a book on how to put on your first race."
(Vitaminwater-Trek; 3/4): "As the adrenaline started to rush, I sped up for the final the turn and opened a small gap to the rider behind me. I jumped hard immediately out of the turn and just kept clicking gears."