Yesterday I raced the 3’s and the 1/2/3’s in Chicago at the Monsters of the Midway. The course was a flat, four-corner rectangle with two long straightaways. It was kinda gloomy and looked like it really wanted to rain.
In the Cat 3 race it started out fast and there were people attacking the entire race. I tried to stay near the front as much as possible. I just did my best to stay out of trouble. This race was 50 minutes long and I felt pretty strong for the whole thing. I was the only junior in the race, and there were two other ABDers in the race with me—Matt Curin (the Astellas Director) and Michael Wilke.
There were a lot of fast guys in this race, including some from Bicycle Heaven (Andy Swims, leader of the Illinois Cup so far) and some from Elmhurst Masters. I think there were about 35 racers who started. The weather held out nicely, and it didn’t rain during this race. As far as I know, there were no crashes either.
This course suited me well, mainly because it had a nice, long, straight finish (kind of like Pella). On the last lap, I moved up on the outside, and coming into the final turn I was probably about 7th or 8th. I started my sprint pretty far out from the finish and got up out of the saddle and never looked back. I stayed on the outside where I had plenty of room and just gave it everything I had. When I came across the finish, I was pretty sure I had just won my first Cat 3 race because I didn’t see anyone on either side of me as I crossed. I was sure when I heard my dad yell “Yes!” He says he is pretty sure people at Willis Tower could have heard him as well. (He still calls it the Sears Tower, of course.) I headed straight to junior rollout to make sure the win was legit, and eventually took my spot on the hay bale for 1st place. The announcer said “At the ripe old age of 17, our winner, Konrad Witt.” He also said something about checking my legs for motors...?
There was another race between the Cat 3 race and the Cat 1/2/3 race, so I had a little bit of a breather. My dad and I had already agreed that this would just be basically a training ride. As we were sitting at the start line, it started to drizzle. Ugh! I let some air out of my tires and got ready to do another 65 minutes. The 3 race was fast, but this one was REALLY fast! I did my best to try and stay near the front again, but because of the incredible pace, I spent most of the race about halfway through the pack. There was pretty much a crash in the second corner for each of the first five laps. Luckily, it was mostly solo riders just sliding out due to the rain and slippery condition of the road. I remember looking up at the lap counter and thinking there was a lot more laps in this race than in the 3’s. I pretty much just counted down the laps until I started seeing single digits. This is when I used a little more energy and tried to stay closer to the front, out of trouble. On the last lap, things were bunching up as everyone was trying to make their way to the front of the pack. About halfway through that lap there was a pileup of about 4 or 5 guys about a rider in front of me. I had to brake pretty hard and ride around the outside to avoid running them all over, so that slowed me down considerably. I had to make a big effort to hook back up to the pack before we got into the finishing straight, and by then all I could do was pick up as many positions as I could. I was happy that I stayed safe and finished in the top 20 (I ended up 19th).
Since today was Mother’s Day, there was really no race to go to, but I did take a nice, two-and-a-half hour ride in the gorgeous spring (rain-free) weather over at Busse Woods. I also sent my mom two dozen roses and a sterling silver necklace. (So long to the prize money I got for the Cat 3 race yesterday!!)
Next week it’s off to Michigan for the West Michigan Stage Race.
Thanks so much to everyone in ABD for supporting me and Prairie Path Cycles for letting me ride and race on the really nice Trek Madone! I know that my first Cat 3 win would not have been possible without this support.
P.S. I’m thinking of trying to race on the track this year—have you guys got a nice track bike laying around that I might be able to borrow? (My dad is threatening to build me one, and that’s a little scary...)