A 9am decision was made to drive down to the 2011 version of Monsters of the Midway, knowing we had the strong chance of rain and unforgivable winds ahead of us.
(Thanks to Tati for photo)
Has anyone told you about our newest member? Not only is Daphne friends with the big guy, but she’s also a beast on the streets. Our Cat 4 race started off strong; rain was a-pouring, and that cross wind was not going to let us have an easy out. Working to stay in the pack, I utilize some high school basketball mentality (if you can’t outscore the opponent, at least hustle enough to outrun them) to keep up with a strong lead out. Daff is keeping a good spot for our first three laps, me not letting that other green/white/red jersey outta my sight, as we’re being strongly contested by the home team. A $10 prime is announced, and no one’s moving. We’re all waiting for someone to push, and as we pass the street light of the back end, I note that no one’s got the urge. “Go big or go home,” I think, and I get out of the saddle with Daff, totally unaware of my Prime Dream, giving me some sound advice, “Marie, don’t burn yourself out!” Turn 4, I look back, no one, but I decide I gotta throw down in case someone decides to jump ‘er. Thankfully I did because as I cross the line, I see a flash of red to the left, and the announcer, Todd from ABD, has solidified it, #913, Marie Snyder, has claimed the prize. Alberto’s tried to nick me at the end to no avail. Feeling heavy and out of breath, I consider whether or not being on Team Prime will effect me later (YES), and keep truckin’ along, seeing my teammate push past and go for the breakaway. I wish I could’ve watched Daff race because that lady dominated the lead and pulled for an Inaugural Cuttin’ Crew Podium with 3rd place! We’re off to a nice start with my 9th place finish and D with the first podium of the day.
Jannette, having thrown her name into the Badass of the Day Bucket by riding down to the race, went full on control mode for her Cat 1/2/3 race. Tamara Fraser, experiencing the season of a lifetime, goes off the front and holds the lead for the entirety of the race until an unfortunate flat with three laps to go. With Katie Isermann having flatted out as well, this leaves for five ladies to vie for the five pay outs, and you know they’re going to throw some proverbial elbows. Bell lap, ladies are packed together down the straight and rounding turns 1 and 2. I run across the field to get to the mid-way of the back, observing that the ladies have the crazy eyes as they’re sizing the cohort up. They’re being patient and strategic. I hustle back to the line, and we’ve got the Crew talkin’ up this finish because we KNOW J’s got it in her. We see them embark onto the last 300 meters, and it’s an all out show down; the five are out of the saddle hammering down, with J neck and neck with Francine Haas, the crowd yellin’ for their favorites. They cross and it’s close! We jump in the air because we think J’s got it, but Todd tells us he’s gotta check out the picture. We look at each other with mad anticipation, sharing our support for J. “She HAD to have snagged it, but I don’t know.” “Francine threw her bike, but did J throw hers harder?” Todd gets back on the mic, and he’s doing a countdown knowing that we are revved on the suspense. “Fifth place goes to Cathy Frampton of Project 5 Racing. We got fourth place going to Erin Woloszyn of Village-Verdigris Cycling. Third place is going to an Alberto’s lady, Angela Rochester, who was pulling off the front the entire race. Now that lady is a real go-getter, works hard for her money*…” He continues on with an anecdote about Ms. Rochester, smile on his face as he sees that he is killing us with the tension. “Aaaaand in second … ……. … Ms. Francine Haas of…” the crowd can’t even hear the rest of the announcement with our hootin’ and hollerin’ about our lady’s big W. We look for J, and as we see her coming ‘round the bend with her opponents, everyone runs out to the course with #1 fingers, pointing at our lady. She gives another smile, “Who? Me?” and we nod our heads for another J post up. Glorious.
Out on search for a hot chocolate warm up during the beginning of the Pro 1/2/3s, we’re wondering if we should stick around when we run into Nico and Brian. Brian’s stoked to be 19 and alive, and Nico is stoked to be supporting. We head back to the race to see Chris Padfield pulling the entire field like a goddamn locomotive. It’s been hours of standing outside in the rain, and with our Teenage Dream and his ma and step-dad in tow, we got a full on Cuttin’ Crew Social Club happening on the sidelines. The rain and wind, paired with the hats and winter jackets, shift the audience into cyclocross mode. No one’s leaving this race, and everyone who rides by is getting a cheer!
Cat 4’s line up with Max and Josh ready to roll. “Nice jersey! Is that 7-11? NOPE. That’s some CUTTIN’ CREW,” yells Brian, with the optimism on lock. The boys are looking good, when, without fail, a crash happens just after turn 2. When we notice that Max got caught up in it, Andrew and I go into EMT mode and run across the field, almost forgetting that there’s a little kid soccer match happening. Andrew grabs his bike, we ask him if he’s going to go back in the race, and he’s unsure, but goes to check in with the official regardless. He gets back in the race with the pack, and sticks with it throughout. Josh’s knee is hurtin’, so he teams up with a guy to appease an amped up crowd with fake sprints and throws every time they cross the line. The crowd eats it up and feeds more positive energy into a dense pack. Bell lap, and the whole pack is fighting for it with three off the front. We can’t tell who is who, and the camera is the go-to for results once again. Turns out, despite a crash, Max gave enough effort to pull 6th place. CCC is on a roll!
Brian’s been talkin’ big this whole time, feeling strong and ready to lose his road racin’ virginity. And, though he doesn’t need the confidence, we keep him hopeful with strategy advice and high fives. Dude’s ready. The official blows the whistle, and Brian immediately jumps for the lead. He’s pulling the entire pack, making jumps that are making us nervous. “Can he keep it?” “Eh, he’s 19, he can do anything.” Todd gives the prime announcement, followed by, “And Brian Ellison off the front AGAIN.” Brian is ready to join Team Prime. He holds it, makes it, and posts up like a rookie, his category thinking, “Who the hell does this kid think he is?” Brian doubles up on the primes, followed by a Roscoe Village guy going off the front for the remainder of the race. We’ve got a trio of laps left, and we’re wondering if Bri is going to be smart about his moves. Bell lap comes, Nico takes off across the field to give our kid some counsel, and we see a solo bridge effort on the back stretch. Brian Ellison’s name is announced once again, and the crowd is losing it. I run down to the 100 meter mark to witness yet another neck and neck finish. Brian looks back and sees his second place will go uncontested, so he gives it to Roscoe Village, knowing that he has another race to govern.
As soon as he pulls off of his cool down lap, Brian yells “someone take my top number off, I’ve got another race to win!” This kid is playing no holds barred. The entire team surrounds him for some leg warming, water, and pride. He’s got all of us inspired; Nico and ‘Drew, almost in seriousness, are asking for kits to go in and try to emulate our teen superstar.
Brian has just enough time for one more cool down/warm up lap until the beginning of his next race. Having only had oatmeal for sustenance, Daff and I make the decision to get home. We pile six deep in the notorious purple truck. As we’re taking the scenic route home, Nico gives us the call that Brian has once again pulled another stunt-filled race for the big W. We’re elated! Brian put down the hurt for another tight finish against a XXX’er, claiming victory for the little guy.
All in all, Cuttin’ Crew had one of those days. We suffered, we survived, and we had fun. There wasn’t a single person who went home unsatisfied or with dry feet. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to continue the Best Year Ever!
*elaborated for effect!