Do It In the Mud

Chicago cross season is finally underway, and what better way to begin than with actual cross weather in good ol’ Jackson Park!

Courtesy of Nathan Schneeberger

Nico and I departed northside ‘round 9, showing up just as our 1/2/3 ladies were in full force. Christina rocked her solo speed as her and Jannette rolled through some light rain with the best of the women. After a few accidents and mechanicals, C and JRho finished 14th and 16th, respectively (8th and 10th out of the 3’s)!

Courtesy of  Bill Draper

Nico suited up with Mike and Max and proud member of Team Double Up, JRho, for a full 3’s field. Ben, who had stepped up from the waiting list to compete in the 30+ race during the wee hours of the morn, joined me and the fabulous Betty Morell on the sidelines to cheer our boys on. The start was as expected with a field of a hundo, in which Max unfortunately got tangled up in a crash. Not letting lost ground or a newly dented top tube get him down, Max managed to snip snip his way past over sixty people to finish 34th. Mike came through with the 24th position, and Nico SS'd his way to a solid 17th! J was pulled with a lap to go, but it wasn’t without a huge smile on her face.

Courtesy of Eric Goodwin

Both my race and Ella’s followed the guys, Ella doubling up with a morning soccer game. With 52 racers a piece, Ella and I were going to have to pull out some ballaaa moves from the get go. I had  some luck as my number was pulled for the final call-up, so I lined up smack dab in the middle. Whistle blown, and I was off to hold a top five position til a detrimental crash that busted my brifter, leaving me single speedin’ by proxy and my rear brake rubbing for a solid 2/3rds of the race. Another slide out on the asphalt during the second lap gave me a layer of road rash - somehow, however, I managed to once again grab that final call-up position with 10th place.

Click Above to Watch the Women's 4 Start, Courtesy of xXx

Ella faired very well against combined juniors fields, holding her own against some pretty fast adolescent boys and girls, and throughout the rest of the day people shared with me how impressed they were with Ella’s technical skills, including something that I’ve been struggling with: re-mounting. Heroes in Every Size, I say.

Courtesy of Eric Goodwin

Because the 3’s field filled up, Josh jumped in the Pro 1/2/3’s with our third SS rider of the day, Avi. The rain was constant, thus the course continued to change upon each race. As Avi put it:

The highlight for me was just battling some solid riders: I traded spots with Luke a few times, something we haven't done in a couple of years. Mostly, I was going one on one with Jack Lionberger for the top cat 3 spot, but eventually my skinny, semi-slick tire up front caught up with me, and I slid out one too many times. By the last lap, I was struggling to find lines outside of the slippery mud and I barely held on to finish ahead of Luke.

...Luke is a class act on course. He let riders pass when he felt like he was holding us back on the opening laps, and when he did pass someone late in the race, he apologized for ambushing him and not announcing it properly.

Nothing tops being called out for being a nice guy! Avi worked his way for 2nd cat 3, 18th overall, and Josh grabbed 7th cat 3 and 29th overall. Fantastic job in the toughest men’s field of the day!

Courtesy of Tati

Just in time for some Cat 4 madness came the real downpour. Donning our rain gear, we staked some spectator property near the swamp with hopes that we’d witness someone take the turn too hot and slip into the pond. Though I didn’t get to witness this feat, Ella and Lang ended up in giggles after helping a guy fish his bike out. A billion crashes and hand ups later, we had our first cross race in the books!

Next jaunt is October 2nd at Hopkins Park featuring the Official Unofficial Illinois State Single Speed Cyclo-Cross Championship, and you bet your dollar we’ll have at least a couple people competing for the title! See yous all there!