Photo by Rom Ramondong
Leland Kermesse wrap-up
Maybe wider tires would have been a good idea after all?Lower-category racers have clamored for longer, harder road races, and Saturday's Leland Kermesse delivered in spades. Dozens of riders fell victim to the serpentine hiss of a pinch flat. Those that didn't still had to stay upright through the soupy gravel and amidst the chaos of fallen riders, no different from the pro peloton trying to navigate the Koppenberg. "Take turns slow," Flatlandia's entertaining FAQ warned before the course. "Especially on the gravel. Nothing is slower than crashing." More than one rider found that out the hard way, including Jacques Launer (XXX Racing-AthletiCo), as captured here. He would be OK and finish in the top half of the 5's. Teammate William Pankonin managed to eat gravel twice and still finish 8th in the 4's. The award for persistence may go to Tony Rienks (Beverly Bike/Vee-Pak), who finished 21st despite a crash that took a big bite out of his arm. After the race he'd head to the hospital for six stitches in an injury that he described as "hamburger." And for anyone who survived those two challenges, there was still the matter of the wind, which defied early forecasts and like the mighty Kraken rose up to smite all comers. No surprise, then, than the P/1/2/3 race had more DNF's than F's. Indeed, every field was destined to blow up. Within a few miles of the P/1/2/3 race, Verizon u25 set explosives of its own when Ryan Freund and John Meyers went down the road
Race reports Dan Andrews (XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 5): "I was here to race and finish this bloody thing is what I did."
Stephen Butler (Wheelfast; 4): "The gravel seemed to last forever."
Tamara Fraser (XXX Racing-AthletiCo; W-4): "My endorphins were having a party in my brain and I was filled with sentimental appreciation for my breakmates."
Ryan Freund (Verizon u25; P/1/2/3): "John wanted to put everyone in the gutter from the gun, Steve thought we should wait a lap, and I really didn’t care."
Tyler George (XXX Racing-AthletiCo; P/1/2/3): "Last of those who finished. A fighter's position."
Arron Hampton (Psimet; 5): "I have never seen riders fall down so slowly. It was funny and it was not funny."
Chris Jensen (Half Acre Cycling; 4): "It was not only one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but one of the most awesome as well."
Dana Maglaris (XXX Racing-AthletiCo; W-4): "I gave it a huge effort to stay with the 1/2/3’s, who were attacking like crazy."
Kristen Meshberg (Flatlandia; W-P/1/2/3): "She took off on the first thick gravel section and I was terrified but forced myself to stay on her wheel."
Avi Neurohr (Chicago Cuttin' Crew; 4): "I soldiered on."
William Pankonin (XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 4): "From the back, you could tell which riders were shelled. Broken legs swerved all over the road."
Brian Parker (XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 4): "You need to do this race next year, it is that good. Can I preregister now, for next year?"
Ben Popper (Half Acre Cycling; 4): " It was such a great feeling, floating down the road. When we turned back onto the pavement, there were only five of us."
Ted Ramos (Iron Cycles; 4): "The first two laps were so hard I thought I could blow up at any time."
Jannette Rho (Chicago Cuttin' Crew; W-P/1/2/3): "You had to be strong to survive the winds and skilled to make it through the gravel."
Tony Rienks (Beverly Bike/Vee-Pak; 4): "I jump back onto the bike, not wanting my day to be over so soon."
Joe Schubert (Super Ape; 4): "At least I beat my 5-minute."
Mark Swartzendruber (Verizon Wireless; 40+): " I lost all concentration of the task at hand, being to crush him into the aggregate on the dirt roads."
Verizon u25 (P/1/2/3): "Meyers also said they spent most of the race bickering as they were completely on the rivet."
Bryan Witry (Spidermonkey Cycling; 4): "Three hours in the saddle is a long time. I loved every second of it."
Photos John Firak Gavin Gould Rom Ramondong David Tzau