Keeley Report: Whitnall Park

Jay Corgiat and I headed up to Milwaukee Saturday for the Whitnall Park for the hilly crit. It is a never-flat course that has you either going up or down with generally wide turns and a slight downhill finish that comes about 50 meters after the crest of a slight kicker of a hill. It is quite a nice little course. Jay raced the masters 4/5 race with about 10 mins of warm up (we left later than we wanted to head north and the 294 contruction/45 mph work zones greatly reduced our ability to make good time). Jay and Mike McCoy took to the line and raced well. Both were in the top 10 everytime they went by. I did not get a look at the final results of the race.
Jay joined Ben DeMong and self for the Master 3/4 race just an hour later. We planned to stay near the front and either chase down breaks or try to instigate a break every other lap, alternating to keep us fresh. About 2 laps into the race a couple of fellas went off the front. I was sitting 3rd wheel, so stood up to give chase, only to be called off by a hard-charging Ben. He was able to clamp on to the break and rode with it until it was caught a lap later. I decided to try my luck and attacked when the break was within a few meters of the field. I was joined by a gent with a mirror on his helmet (it has been my experience that is a sign of a tt guy-usually). He and I gave it a go, but did not last more than 1/2 lap.

Once reeled in, Ben jumped with another group and they were off and looking quite good, but were pulled in shortly thereafter. Jay took the cue, jumped, created a nice gap, I sat on the head of the pack and tried to avoid the cracks in the pavement that were being created by Dr. Jay’s mad crank (or so he prefers it to be called). Jay was joined by another strong looking rider, but he did not pull through and Jay was on the rivet.

As soon as they were reeled in Luke Seeman (XXX, or "Triple-Ex" as they call it north of the border) and another rider attacked and quickly built a 16 second gap. They looked strong and we did not cut into their time in the next 2 laps. I decided that I felt good enough to try to bridge. I attacked hard from the front of the pack and spent two and a half laps trying to dig into the lead. I was 8 seconds back from them on my second lap of pain, but was not able to make the connection. When it was clear I was not going to catch and there was nobody coming to help from the field, I sat up and attempted to let breakfast creep back down my throat, get my breathing under control and get some form of a game face on before rejoining the pack.

When I did rejoin, I drifted to the back where Jay was waiting to ride me back into the field if need be. He and I spent a lap at the back of the pack, which made him nervous as a kitten ("we should really move up.."; "doesn’t it look better up front"; and "this is not a good place to be" were a few of Jay’s utterances). With 3 to go we began moving up and with 2 to go we were about halfway up the pack with the break still up the road (10 second I believe). Just before the bell lap with one to go, Jay made a mad dash into the wind to move me up, I moved to the front of the pack, he drifted off the front giving a solo effort a go. With about 1/2 lap to go, I found Ben’s wheel which I happily rode into the wind up to about 10th place where I sat on a few really big dude’s wheel waiting for things to ignite. We were about 400m from the line and I felt like I was in a good spot as we finally caught the break. I did not want to commit too early so I stayed patient and waited until the guys up front sprinted before standing (some guy was desperately screamin "go,go, let’s go!" into my ear, at nobody in particular, but everyone knew that sprinting this early would guarantee a low result). Up the final hill we went, the base of which marked a spot that I felt I could sprint through the line from. I stood up and began spinning as hard as I could, jumping out of a Mad-city velo rider’s draft as we neared the crest of the hill. Things were looking good, nobody on my wheel,nobody coming up on us and I was moving quicker than the other two guys that were within a bike of me. We went over the top of the hill and began the downhill to the line. Legs were cashed, had to shift down as I spun out. Physics bedamned, apparently head-to-head a 155lb leprechaun cannot go downhill as fast as a 200 lb man with tats on his calves.

I took second by 1/2 bike, 3rd place was about 3 inches behind me. It was a great race, especially since we had a plan, we executed about as well as we could and delivered a great result.

Ben and I went on and raced the CAT3 race. We had a similar plan to the first race but both decided that we only had one bridge/attack attempt each. If that attack did not net a result, we would stay in the pack for the field sprint as neither of us thought we had the gas to do too much. Neither of our bullets hit the mark in the race, a late break got off and stayed off with 6 riders. Ben tried to lead me out, ran out of steam. I tried to sprint, ran out of steam. Not sure what places we got, but it was good training and again, good teamwork.

Next up, Vernon Hills. Early reports call for rain sunday, rain races are fun.

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