Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stupid Week, still!

Great Downer Avenue Criterium.

80k, one U- Turn, one corner, one sweeping U- Turn, 10k people, one prime.

This is probably my favorite bike race all year. It’s fast (28.9 average speed this year). It’s really tough, and it’s so much fun I don’t ever want to miss this race. The finish line is on a traditional downtown street. Barriers line the road on both sides with a Tour de France style with a crowd numbering 10 deep along the 5-6 block stretch. Turn corner one and there was The Party (more on that later). From the last corner all the way to The Party just after the first corner, there was a gradually increasing volume in an insane tunnel of noise! Round the second corner, a U-Turn at 21mph, then back up to 31mph. The entire back side of the race was barbeque after barbeque. More parties and parties and parties! Wow. Turn the last corner and there was a city park where picnickers lounged and watched then it’s back to the finishing stretch.

This was my fifth day in a row of racing and I must admit, I had that not so fresh feeling. Ha! We did the morning ride and I could barely keep up going a mere 18-19mph. Not a good sign, but that’s okay. This was the last day and then it’s back to the furnace of KS. However, there’s a chance I could be back up here in a few days for Elk’s Grove…..

Super Prime: Corner 1 + 50 meters.

This is probably the second biggest block party I’ve ever been to (the first being on Mass St. when KU won the NCCA basketball championship) there’s just one difference. At a typical party you would have the usual: dolled up girls and guys, liquor, smokes, and super loud music. Everyone struggles to talk while shouting over the noise and dancing eventually becomes the dominant form of communication. But here, the racers are the entertainment. There’s still the loud music and craziness, but we are the rock stars of the day; and the riders live up to all expectations as we scream around the course, bombing and hot routing corners while constantly being enticed by the mass of people making the tunnel of noise to ride faster; always faster.

Beers, Brats, Burgers for $20. AND there were Super Prime T-shirts (if anyone has a pic of this shirt, please send it to me). All the money from the T’s and food went to the Super Prime. It’s quickly becoming a legend in the realm of bike racing. Ride a super tough course for as many laps as it takes for a chance to win a one place, one lap, winner take all prize. It was $4k- cash- before the race even started. By the time it was called…. Seven Thousand Dollars, $7,000. Holy Crap. I was pretty far back in the field when I heard the Bell for the prime. I turned to the guy next to me and said, “this lap is gonna be really hard.” Okay, here we go! I went around the U-turn pretty fast and came out of it in my 13. From there I only shifted down as my speed was 36mph on the backside of the course. Rock Racing won the prime and, as tradition, the winner stops then and there and joins the party. Well deserved and I completely agree with the policy.

After the Super Prime, the Kelley Benefits started their stupid lead out train again. Once again, not fast, and the only way they would keep control was to intimidate and hinder forward progress of anyone trying to come around. Sorry guys, but 30mph is not fast enough and your little swing out, chop and swing tight maneuver only works when there isn’t any sort of organization behind you. Actually, on, multiple riders were complaining that it wasn't fast enough:

More than a few riders were critical of the lead-out train of Kelly Benefits Strategies-Medifast, saying it was not nearly fast enough, including Cantwell.

"Coming into the finish [Magnell and I] were shadowing each other, and the guys the front were not going fast enough at all. If someone can hit over a lead-out train and stay away for a half lap it means they weren't going hard enough. I thought we were going to chase him down and then I got boxed in the sprint."

Keep trying though. With a ½ lap to go, Sterling Magnell of Rock Racing jumps the lead out train of KB and holds it for the victory, making all the KB riders look like chumps.

The best part: When the race is over and the riders can stop and join the party. Never in my life have I been in a place where a bunch of skinny, sweaty, and super fit guys in team kits can simply join in a party and be accepted as part of the celebration. Beers, brats, burgers and more beers for all! Ahh, Milwaukee…. Only here would I expect to be enticed to a party by a six year old holding a bottle of ice cold beer! Classic. I wish my camera wouldn’t have broken.


Super Week definitely is a celebration of bike racing. It’s been around for a long, long time and many people, famous, infamous, regular, or international stars, have all been here. I had a chance to meet up with some guys I haven’t seen since I raced the Vuelta Zulia in 2006. Seth and Jamiel. Those guys are loads of fun and I hope to be able to race with them again soon.