All Photos Courtesy of Eric Nelson
And with that the 2008 Chicago Cyclocross Cup is off with a bang. This is what we have been waiting for since last December, and Greg and the entire xXx Team did not disappoint. The weather was perfect, the course was incredible, both in a good way and an extremely technical way. I have to give thanks to everyone that worked on that course. The fact that this course was split up into two completely different sections was great. The front half was nice and technical with lots of twists and turns and all of the barriers, while the second half was a huge power section where you get on the gas and just let 'er rip. Bravo!
As for us the day went pretty well, all though it started out a bit rough for Jim. While warming up for the A race he managed to snap his chain in two. And being that the chain was Shimano he needed a new pin to repair it. After some scrambling about and some nervous moments Jim tracked down Rich Delgado from the Village Cyclesport Team who lent a helping hand. After that was over the nerves were calmed a bit, until we lined up for the start.
I knew I wanted to be on the outside of the first corner to avoid the inevitable traffic jam that occur on the inside. My start was okay, not great. I hesitated a bit to give Jim an opening ahead of us and lost a few places in the process. Tony however had no problem and shot out ahead. After we settled into a nice rhythm through the first non-technical sections I knew things would be good. I could still see Tony through the turns and Jim was just ahead, maybe 5-6 riders. I wasn't sure were Elvis or Patrick ended up, but I'm sure they weren't far behind.
The first few laps were pretty tame, Jim and I picked off riders and Tony was holding his position near the front. I caught glimpses of Elvis and Patrick behind me as the course winded around on itself. Then disaster nearly struck Tony as he torqued his rear wheel in his frame nearly locking up the wheel. It happened with about 2 laps to go and he began to worry about losing valuable places as he limped the bike around the course. Luckily for him I had put my Kelly in the pit as a sort of "team" pit bike since we all run eggbeaters and about the same size. Tony made the switch and only lost a few places in doing so. It was at this point, after having passed Jim who was having derailleur problems, that I caught sight of Tony just one rider ahead of me heading into the second half of the course with 2 to go.
I could see that he was having a hard time and figured that his early pace had been a bit too high. I tried catching him on the power sections but he stayed just ahead of me. As we worked through the technical front half on the ultimate lap i realized why he was faltering a bit on the bike, it wasn't his bike. I didn't see the switch take place, but was proud that he was on my bike and staying in the race. The only problem is that I set my bikes up completely different from anyone on the team. First of all I run my brakes backwards, and the levers nearly bottom out on the handlebar. I also like to run my tires really low, whereas Tony likes a firmer set up. At one point he nearly rolled a tire through the off camber section heading into the double barriers.
All was not lost though as he managed to stay just ahead of me with only rider finishing in between us. However, because he accepted a hand up of water the officials saw to it to DQ him. After a brief discussion with the officials, all was well but their decision stood. I was scored at 23rd and because the results only listed numbers and not riders names I am not exactly sure where Elvis and Jim ended up. Patrick was having a good strong showing hanging near Elvis in only his second 'cross race when he flatted with just over a lap to go! I guess he will have to vindicate himself at DeKalb for that one.
As for the B race, we started Bob, Jorge and Sergio in a field of a bout 60-65. Jorge lined up on the front row, pretty fearless if you ask me for his first 'cross race. At the gun the start was fast but all three had no problems. Bob actually made a huge deficit right off the bat, passing 15-20 riders through the bottleneck of the first turn. Through the first lap it was Sergio, followed by Jorge and Bob was passing his way into the top 30. At some point during the second lap, Jorge managed to pass Sergio who was looking strong. At that point there was no looking back for Jorge, Sergio had a bit of a problem near the sidewalk, not sure what exactly but he lost some time and places for sure. Bob also had problems as a rider went down in front of him and he had no place to go. Also on the second lap Bob had a seriously loosening saddle which didn't help things.
As the laps counted down, Jorge help position and started to pass riders who went out too strong. Sergio was also looking good and maintaining position and Bob was making up time taking the corners aggressively. As it ended up Jorge finished his first race in 18th! I'm not sure of Bob and Sergio but I believe Sergio finished mid 30's and Bob just behind him. This was a great race considering the amount of time Jorge and Bob have been on 'cross bikes. If this is any indication of the future of the series, then things are looking good.
All in all the day went very well for us. While the DQ for Tony really sucked, it was nice to see him ride an aggressive race and even throw in a bike change. As for myself, I hesitated a bit in passing people at times and had to remind myself not to sit in, sometimes out loud. Elvis and Jim rode strong races and except for a mechanical from Jim finished well. We still need a bit more fine tuning to bump up our finishing positions, but overall I think everyone was satisfied.