Snakes, Melons, and Quads. Hell Yeah.
by Mike The Snake Alley criterium kicked off a race packed weekend for the crew. We parked the Cruiser above the brick switchbacks of the "snake" and snagged a spot mid-hill for one of our couches -- a prime cheering/heckling position.
Molly was the first to race and showed some true grit and resilience by finishing despite having to pull over after cramping up.
Later Max, Avi and myself lined up in the 65 man 4's field. As expected, the start was fast and chaotic as everyone scrambled for position heading into the narrow climb. I found myself behind Max near the back of the field for the first lap. It can be difficult to pass riders on the snake and for the first two or three laps I had trouble navigating around slower riders. Finally, around lap five, I came around Max and started to bridge between the isolated groups of riders up the road. Sometime around lap eight I made contact with the lead group and was able to sit in on the flat sections for a couple of laps. With two to go I took the lead heading into the switchbacks.
As I rounded the bend I could hear the roar of my teammates as they realized I'd made my way to the front of the race. I've read that riding HED wheels can motivate a rider to climb harder, but they've got nothing on the energy some screaming teammates with a cowbell can generate. Cresting the hill I'd managed to open a small gap on the rest of the field, but by the time we crossed the start/finish for the bell lap the group was back in my draft. I managed to find myself fifth wheel heading into the final straight, but my legs weren't up for the sprint. I crossed the line eighth. Max had cramped toward the end of the race and had to pull out, while Avi narrowly missed a payout finishing 17th.
But Avi wasn't done. He immediately lined up with the 30+ open field for another 12 laps. Sure, he may have been off the back after the first circuit, but a few laps later the chants of "A-vi, A-vi, A-vi" began to gain steam. By lap ten the chant could be heard all the way at the start/finish area as the spectators along the snake saluted his efforts. Avi climbed the snake 22 times in his back to back races.
Up next Al Urbanski worked his way from the back to the front of the 3s for 16 fast paced laps. Al managed to move from 35th to 20th in the first half of the race before gaining eight more places on the final descent and sprint to finish 12th.
Sunday we raced the Melon City Crit.
At Monday's Quad Cities Criterium Molly helped create an early break. Two riders managed to attack off the front of the group, but Molly and two others gave chase through the eight cornered course. The riders stayed away, but Molly unleashed one of her trademark sprints to finish fourth. Another great finish for Godlufski and the crew's best result of the weekend.
In the Master's 4/5 race I managed to stay upright and corner my way to eighth place. Later, in the 4's race Jeff handled the quick, technical course brilliantly staying in great position through-out and finishing tenth in the field followed closely by Max who picked up 16th place.
In the 3s the efforts of Stan and Al were thwarted by a wet course and several crashes.
All in all, a wonderful weekend of bike racing. Special thanks to Molly's family (Kathy, Ray, and Bruno) for opening up their beautiful home to our team and being such amazing hosts. And to Bradley and Rachel for their physical, emotional and spiritual support.