It looked like rain in Kankakee. We had a field of about 35 riders, with a good combo of Chicago guys plus downstate guys like the riders from Enzo's and Sammy's. We also had some riders from over the border in Indiana for team Upland Brewing. I had Tony with me. Last year I came 200 meters short of taking the win in a field of a dozen after a last-lap solo effort, so this year I was looking for redemption. Today, I was going to try.
The race started off nice and relaxed, which is a welcome change from the collegiate stuff I'd been doing. A few moves went but guys were pretty good about not letting them get too much room. Halfway through the race we started getting a mild mist. Moves started to stretch the rubber band a bit so I started to go with them. A promising one with a Sammy guy and Nick Ramirez in it got a few seconds, so I tried to bridge to it. Unfortunately my breakaway power isn't there yet so I couldn't get a gap on the field. So I accidentally killed the break (and violated my policy against not chasing guys I know well...sorry dudes).
Eventually a few riders rolled off the front and it stuck. What made it stick was successful blocking from some Enzo's guys and maybe some Bicycle Heaven guys during the narrow part of the course. All 15 seconds the move got came from blocking in just that one part of the course. A few guys like Doug Ansel from Upland bridged up so that the break ballooned to like 7 or 8 guys. When a third of the field is up the road, you can't really call it a break anymore...now you're off the back. Thus, I told Tony that we would need to do something about this, and we would shut it down if we needed to. But first, we would wait to see if other riders would do so. Much to my surprise, guys were pretty cooperative up front, and gradually reeled the move in. By now it was pouring rain. I spent the last three laps biding my time in the front of the group, ready to pounce when the time came. I expected the break to disintegrate once we caught them, but somebody up front in the break kept it stretched out so, in an unusual turn of events, the break became the first 7 or so guys for the last lap. The result was I went from being 6th or so in the field to 15th when we caught the break. Unexpectedly, the pace stayed high enough that I couldn't really make a move on the last lap when things slowed down. So I rolled in for 14th and Tony came in at 20th (in his second race of the day). Like Bob Murray signs on his emails, "if you don't risk losing you never win."
Thanks to the Wheelmen for once again putting on a great race. Good to see Mike Kelly and the Feeherys and the rest of the SCW crew. Thanks to Tony for sticking around for a second race. It was good having a teammate in the race because it frees me up to do some work at the front. When I'm racing solo and take a pull, I'm vulnerable to the attacks that come when I pull off. It was also good to see all you guys from downstate. I won't be going to Champaign next weekend because I have to take law school finals, but I'll see you all at Monsters.