The art of war is simple enough...
"...Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on." -Ulysses S. Grant, aka the President & General who used to live across the river
The Cuttin Crew likes Galena, and not in a Facebook way. We like to roll deep, squeeze into overstuffed cabins, drink wellwater, and test the limits of 2g cell phone coverage checking the standings. Once upon a time, in the salad days of CBR, every bike racer in Chicagoland ran home and blogged about every move in the race, and scoured flickr for photos. Those days are gone, and sometimes it seems everyone's moved on to microblog their results on twitter in real time. We’re going a little throwback this time. Chapeau to the teams, our fellow racers, the pros, the announcers, the beginners, the marshals, motos, refs, and xXx for throwing it, but pull up a chair, because we’re about to take you to the Cuttin Crew’s front row seat at some Chicagoland stage racing action: the second annual Tour of Galena.
[The tifosi have already posted choice photos to our Facebook page, so go there to see the crew in full color.]
Saturday morning kicked things off in the Time Trial, and most of us rank beginners were confined to the “short course” - three point something miles, with a few rollers. The crew was rolling deep, with five men in the cat fours. The results were as varied as the squad themselves. Andrew ‘I’ve got a couple final presentations Monday, I’m racing light this weekend’ Nordyke was struck by inspiration just after his start time, and decided to do the TT after all. He pinned a backup number on his t-shirt, and in jeans, sneakers, and flat pedals, he somehow didn’t finish last, and if you adjust for him pinning up after his start time, he beat ten people. The rest of the crew spread out across the standings. Mike ‘I’m a climber, not a time trialist’ Morell was somewhere behind Josh ‘recovering from injury’ Shough, who was near the middle. Al ‘rolling with 72 spokes because that’s how Merckx did it’ Pearson grabbed some Omnium points in 7th. Avi ‘I don’t need no stinking gears’ Neurohr showed up on a modified pursuit bike and managed to turn in the second fastest time in the field. At the start, Dave ‘do I look like I’m joking’ Fowkes approved Avi’s bike, muttering “track bike, I like it.” Given their history, that was like a man-hug coming from the official.
The cat four ladies of the crew were up next. Marie ‘Imma treat it like a long sprint’ Snyder turned in the 5th fastest time, but things were heating up at the top. Daphne ‘Imma treat it like a 12-lap flyer at the track’ Karagianis clocked in at 3rd, and Christina ‘Imma treat it like an alley cat checkpoint’ Peck came in 2nd. The event’s top finisher was not entered in the weekend’s Omnium, so the ladies kicked off the weekend with a lock on the leader’s jersey and the second spot as well.
Next up was Brian ‘I got 99 problems but winning ain’t one’ Ellison in the cat threes. Brian tore off the second fastest time on a plain ol’ road bike. We don’t know how fast he was going, but the only guy that beat him was attacking the downhill, in the aerobars, on his triathlon-style TT bike, pedaling through the descent at 52.8 mph. (How does Jostein sit on his bike with balls that big?)
Next up: the road race. There’s no way around it, the Crew’s cat four men imploded. Avi had spent time the previous day discussing synthetic cartilage with an orthopedist, and was under strict instructions not to race (don’t tell her about the time trial), so he left his second place Omnium standings on the table. For reasons that might sound like excuses, we just didn’t have a specialist on form for this race. The heat, climbs, and the lead moto’s inadvertent 10 mile detour all added up, and Andrew, Mike, and Josh came in early. If you’ve never seen Al, he’s nicknamed Roadhouse for a reason. He hasn’t set foot in a weight room in years, but he’s got Quads of the Gods, and he’s on an FBI watch list for being a walking gun show. In other words, he’s not built for the hills, but he made the cut, and he was the Crew’s only GC man left standing, on account of completing the first two events. He went straight to an icy shower to shake off the heat stroke, and was questioning his form for Sunday’s crit.
The ladies had mixed results in their one lap hillfest. Marie made it through Cavendish-style, surviving on “dreams of premes” the following day. Daphne got stronger as the race went on, finishing 6th, with a decent haul of Omnium points. Christina was near the front when the lead moto went off course, taking three racers with him, and after some adjustments, she finished third, with the leader’s jersey still firmly on her back.
In the threes’ road race, Brian strategically let a kid go off the front (he wasn’t signed up for the Omnium) and with about nine miles left in his 67 mile race, dropped the lead group and rolled in solo for second place, for the second time that day. With that, he took over the leader’s jersey.
Saturday night had most of the crew relaxing at ye Olde Alpaca Farm, with Mike ‘the human spreadsheet’ calculating how many ways the women could win. They kicked things off on Sunday morning in the criterium. If you were wearing pink, this was a fun race to be in. First off, Marie went for back to back premes, making the group chase hard, and split the field immediately. She went on to get all but one preme, and when Daph grabbed it, it left the field vulnerable. Christina played off this and nearly established a three-woman break, with her and Daphne both in it. It didn’t quite happen, but Christina committed anyway. With two teammates controlling the field, she rolled solo for half the race, easily taking the win. Daph took the field sprint for 2nd, while Marie was a little boxed in. She might have been able to push through to sweep the podium, but she made the safe call, backing off and taking 4th. It would be enough to get her on the extended Omnium podium, with the ladies of the crew going 1, 2, and 4. Kinky Llama Katie Tomarelli squeaked into 5th.
The cat four men were next. Several of them had pressing matters and scratched, leaving only Josh riding in support of Al. There are a few things you should know about Roadhouse. In team rides, he’s been known to out-sprint the sprinters, and out-endure the endurance riders. Twice he’s been sitting in a perfect leadout, surging in the finishing straight, and has been crashed out by jokers in the bunch. He’s finishing up his Master’s and he’s a working messenger, so he doesn’t always have a lot of time and opportunity to race. In other words, the man is due.
With about 13 laps to go, he plays off a preme and it’s looking like a three man break might happen. One rider just fades back to the pack. The other guy is working with Al but he comes up with a mechanical and disappears. They announce a $50 cash preme, and Al is in position to go for it, but the pack is hungry and they try to capture him in time to take the cash. He holds them off, but they are gassed from the effort. They sit up, thinking ‘no way is somebody going 11 laps solo - this is cat four! It never works!’ Well, these guys underestimated the ‘house. Building a lead of up to 20 seconds, they brought him back to within five seconds by the bell lap. He.Could.Go.All.The.Way...and he did! Two crit wins for the Cuttin Crew on solo escapes! He vaulted up the standings into the ‘podium shot’ for 4th overall in the Omnium.
In the threes, Brian didn’t need the leader’s jersey to tell everybody to watch him like a hawk, and guys were jostling for his wheel. Since he kicked off his summer campaign in the midwest, Brian has won one race, but finished on the podium six other times. I guess he’s getting tired of it, and didn’t want to take it to a bunch sprint, or risk his Omnium lead to a crash. So he left. Just up and rode away from the entire cat three field. You know how this ends...solo flyer, Cuttin Crew win, for the third time. Second Omnium win. We wish him the best of luck at ToAD in a few weeks, as a newly-minted cat two. Hurry up and go Pro so we can start selling all of your scandalous old stories to the tabloids. We have pictures.
Once again, thanks to the racers, volunteers, significant others, the officials who put in long hours for little pay, and the promoters who made it happen. See you next year.