From the desk of Jason Fergerson
On Hillsboro Eve 2013:. I’ve waited forever for the race that would be the kickoff to my 2013 racing season. These last few weeks have just slowly went by. The weather has been extremely mentally draining. I hate having to wear full balaclava’s at 20 degrees to get my Wednesday riding in. I’m hoping that this Hillsboro eve signifies the start of the actual racing season. Where no balaclava’s are required. Where gloves are made of thin wool, and somebody can actually ride well without knickers. Although shorts are unlikely for tomorrow, racing is going to happen. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself for this race, and am hoping that my teammates and I do well. However, all the preparation in the world cannot guarantee anything. Its bike racing. Its country roads with other bike riders. There’s no way to have any idea what is going to happen at mile 55. No one knows. I think its the uncertainty that is so amazing about bike racing. The fittest or fastest guy has to bring more to the table than that if they want to have any chance tomorrow. They also need Luck. And sometimes they need a lot.
From the desk of the Good Doctor Morell
Hillsboro Roubaix is the rare road race where even category four racers can look forward to almost 60 miles of racing. The course consists of two 29 mile circuits through the narrow, twisty and gravelly farm roads of southern Illinois with each lap capped off by a loop through the hilly, brick lined streets surrounding the Free Methodist Church. The crew had Jason, Al and myself lined up with 73 other category fours (unfortunately Hillsboro shared the date this year with Barry Roubaix and for the first time in my memory the fours field failed to sell out). The plan was to do nothing but sit in for the first lap. Then on lap two we would have Al work the front, looking to insert himself into any possible breaks, while Jason shielded me from the wind. If Al was unsuccessful in finding a breakaway, Jason would set me up to attack on the steep section of hill that precedes the brick streets a few blocks from the finishing line.
As soon as the race began a few attacks flew off the front. I found myself near the rear of the peloton and was unable to see exactly how it developed, but three riders opened up a 30 or so second gap and seemed to be working well together. This had the effect of keeping the pace honest in the pack. I don’t think anyone believed the break would stay away for the next two and a half hours, but there seemed to be an effort up front to at least keep them in sight. I remained toward the rear of the race, choosing not to waste much energy on improving my position until it became necessary. This strategy almost backfired twice as I narrowly avoided crashes ahead of me in the field. Shortly before the end of the first lap the break was caught and a large peloton rolled up the hill leading to town navigating the bricks without incident.
At the beginning of the second lap Al moved to the front of the bunch and began to do his part to keep the pace high and possibly try to escape if others were interested. Al and Jason and guys from Ten Speed Hero spent a good deal of the next twenty miles eating wind at the front and though every break attempt was immediately shut down, I’m sure their tempo sent several riders off the back. Of the three Cuttin’ Crew in the race, Al certainly burned the most calories. Finally, with about ten miles to go, I made contact with Jason and settled into his ample draft. As the peloton realized no one was going to get away, the pace slowed to a crawl with five to go. With the group at the base of the gentle climb into town the pace quickened and Jason and myself maneuvered toward the front. At the short flat before the final climb Jason did two things that gave me a chance to win. First he created a space for me to get to the shoulder and have an open lane to attack. And second, he took the initiative on the base of the climb allowing me to follow the wheels of those who responded. I came around Jason and some of the others who attacked and kept pushing up the hill. By the time I took the left hander that leads to a steep downhill and the bricks I believe I was in third with a gap both ahead and behind me. As I pedaled through the downhill and the rough transition to the long stretch of uneven brick I could see I was going to catch second place. But on the long stretch of brick before the final turn those who I’d passed on the climb came roaring back. I was able to grab a wheel and keep myself in podium contention heading into the final 500 meters, but a sprinter I am not. I essentially held my position all the way to the line, missing out on 5th place by a foot and holding off 7th place by the same margin.
Even though we didn’t win and missed a payout by the narrowest of margins, we can take solace in having stuck to a plan and played our roles to the best of our abilities throughout a long and unpredictable race.
Other results for the Crew include Daphne hanging with the field in her first 1/2/3 road race for a 17th place finish, and Maria taking a solid 12th in the women’s fours.
Many thanks to the Fergusons for their hospitality on Friday night, to Andrew and Olivia for their selfless acts of heroism in the feed zone, to Jeff for helping us get out of Dodge, to Marie for the send off and the snacks, to the fellows at Comrade for their time, effort and expertise and to the International Christian Cycling Club for continuing to put on a tremendously organized honest-to-goodness road race at a time when such events are few and far between.