I love reading the annual reports from Snake Alley rookies. An invariable theme is: "I've never experienced so much pain. Can't wait for next year!" Indeed, no less than Steve Tilford (Tradewind Energy/Trek Stores) called this year's edition an "epic rain criterium."
And combined with the Burlington Road Race, Sunday's Melon City Criterium and Monday's Quad Cities Criterium, it's an epic weekend. Some highlights from Chicago riders:
» We're seeing some great racing this year from Jim Flora (South Chicago Wheelmen). In Friday's Burlington Road Race he placed 4th in the P/1/2 bunch sprint after a break was caught in the final miles.
» Chicago laid waste to the Snake Alley 5's race, placing seven into the top 10: Andrew Haala (Team Beer'd) in 3rd (celebrating above); from Spidermonkey Cycling, Dan Pollard in 4th and Bryan Witry in 10th; and from XXX Racing-AthletiCo, Chris Koster in 5th, Ryan Fay in 6th, Michael Young in
Full Burlington Road Race and Snake Alley results
8th 7th and Matt Dawley in 9th. (Koster and teammate John Wolters also placed 3-4 in Friday's Wapello-Burlington Road Race.)
» Jacques Cartier (XXX Racing-AthletiCo) had elite company on the podium in the 30+, placing 3rd behind Snake Alley experts Cam Kirkpatrick (Rasmussen Bike Shop) and Dewey Dickey (Mercy/Specialized).
» Rain made for slick bricks in the 3's and P/1/2's races. Chicago's top finisher in the 3's was Al Urbanski (Chicago Cuttin' Crew), who overcame a disadvantageous starting position to place 12th. In the $10,000 P/1/2's, Adam Bergman (Texas Roadhouse) closed the door early, leading to lots of early pulls, and I don't see any local names in the results until Ryan Freund (ABD) in 28th and Bryan McVey (Vision Quest) in 30th.
» As usual, the Chicago Cuttin' Crew brought the party with it. Start around 4:45 and 6:15 in John Wilke's video if you've ever wondered what it's like for an entire hillside to chant "Avi! Avi!" like something out of "Rudy."
» Melon City saw good results from Leah Sanda (Flatlandia) and Jannette Rho (Bouledogue Tout Noir), 3-4 in the women's 4's. In the 3's, Team Get a Grip Cycles' Aspen Gorry and David Reyes went 2-4. And Brandon Feehery (South Chicago Wheelmen) picked up 4th in what looks to have been a very competitive 15-18 field.
» As expected, Kristen Meshberg and Devon Haskell are quickly making a name for Team BH USA. Haskell finished 3rd in in the women's P/1/2/3 at Snake Alley, behind two pros, and at Quad Cities Meshberg made the break and finished 2nd. (And this weekend they finally donned their new kits!)
» Also finishing 2nd in a break at Quad Cities was Peter Strittmatter (XXX Racing-AthletiCo) in the 3's, who explains in this video interview that escaping was just his way to take the corners more safely. Juniors James Bird (ISCorps) and Wayon Janowiak did well in a wet field sprint to pick up 5th and 6th.
» Winning races at Quad Cities were Chazz Martin (ISCorps), winning out of a late break in the 4's, and, thanks to a nice leadout from teammate Brian Morrissey, Mike Seguin (XXX Racing-AthletiCo) in the masters 4/5's.
» Chicago's 5's again did well at Quad Cities, including Koster, Fay and Wolters going 2-4-6 and Scott Knoepke (Elmhurst Masters) in 3rd.
» With $5,000 on the P/1/2 line and a stacked field taking its 8 corners, Quad Cities earns its reputation as a cage match. Our top finisher was Sean Metz (Team Apache) in 13th.
. Full Melon City results
. Full Quad Cities results
Snake Alley race reports
Team BH USA
(W-P/1/2): "Several of us have a love-hate relationship with 'the snake' but we were all determined to finish it!"
(Harper's Cycling & Fitness; 3): "Each time up the snake was a new challenge as riders were still dumping their bikes from time to time, mainly due to the loss of traction."
(HBA; 3): "With two laps to go, we were catching Sam and so I punched it up the Snake and caught him by the top."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 5): "I think I climbed OK, but I can’t say the same for my descending and cornering."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 4): "I really like shooting to the inside or sweeping to the outside and passing people when they hit their brakes, so that worked out in my favor."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 5): "The race was pure hell. It was anguish. It was punishing. It was the most difficult thing I have ever physically done. Yet I can’t wait to do it again."
(Unattached; 4): "Nothing can prepare you for the shock to the system that is the opening two laps of this race."
(Team Beer'd; 5): "Lap after lap I reach the top of Snake Alley out of fear, lungs on fire, legs refusing to move, overheating from the bright sun, trying to stay focused enough to catch the slips and jumps of my wheels on the descent."
: "When the riders who came with him did not want to work, he dropped them going up Snake Alley."
(Vision Quest; P/1/2): "I will look forward to doing this race again in dry conditions, or when I learn to have no fear in the descending in the rain, whichever comes first."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; P/1/2): "Gods were mean to us."
(Chicago Cuttin' Crew; 4): "As I rounded the bend I could hear the roar of my teammates as they realized I’d made my way to the front of the race."
(Chicago Cuttin' Crew; 4, 30+): "Best day of racing ever. Teams are good for a lot of things, but when they are inciting a near riot on your behalf... Well, you just don't get that anywhere."
(Spidermonkey Cycling; 5): "By the fifth lap, I was standing on th epedals the whole way up, my legs experiencing an entirely new kind of burning."
(Tradewind Energy/Trek Stores; P/1/2): "I started fast and was gone immediately. At the bottom of the descent I couldn’t see anyone behind me. "
Snake Alley photos
, plus video
Melon City reports
Team BH USA
(W-P/1/2): "HOT HOT HOT at Weed Park."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 5): "I did my best to remember to ride smart and find a wheel whenever one was available."
(Vision Quest; P/1/2): "The hill each lap took enough out of people to make it a tough race, but not enough to allow a break to stay away."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; P/1/2): "Started getting mini-dropped about thirty laps in, chasing back on on the back side, but got definitively unlatched and pulled over the next five laps."
(Tradewind Energy/Trek STores; P/1/2): "The race seemed kind of destined to be a field sprint from the gun. Too many pretty fit guys."
Quad Cities reports
Team BH USA
(W-P/1/2): "Devon attacked with five to go and with Madeleine and Anne covering any attacks drove it home for 7th."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 5): "Mike Seguin
was apparently yelling at me from the sidelines to smarten up and ease up, but I think my oxygen-deprived brain heard ‘Go, go, go!’"
(Beverly Bike/Vee-Pak; 30+ 4/5): "With one lap to go attacks were everywhere. I made sure I kept close to all the action."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 5): "Teamwork was the name of the game today."
(Half Acre Cycling; 30+ 4/5): "My core and balance training kept me on the bike."
(Vision Quest; P/1/2): "I kept reading how this race was being described as a cage match, and I didn't quite get it until I arrived at the course to see much of it enclosed by chicken-wire fencing."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; P/1/2): "I’m going to credit my gypsy skillet for breakfast for making this performance happen."
(XXX Racing-Athletico; 30+ 4/5, 4): "All the frustration and anger and bitterness came rushing out of me in two huge barbaric yawps that echoed off the river town’s brick downtown buildings."
Quad Cities Times
: "Team Texas Roadhouse used overwhelming numbers and constant attacks to secure the victory."
Quad Cities photos