Last weekend was the 2nd race of the CCC series, way out in DeKalb (corn country). I had heard good things about this course, particularly the flyover with stairs and figured it was worth the drive. Well, the course was pretty sucky IMO- the flyover was kinda cool but the rest was pretty boring. Due to some superstar WI ladies showing up I was bumped to the 2nd row. I wasn’t too worried though… I could probably start in the last row and be OK. I don’t toot my own horn often but starts are the one thing I can do well. Of course, then I get passed by a bunch of people during the first lap…
So off we go. I managed to hold my ground in maybe 7th place for the first lap or two, then slowly dropped back. The flyover that seemed cool during the pre-ride wasn’t that fun after all- the platform up top was pretty short which made remounts awkward. I have to say it sucks when you see 3 laps left on the board and the next time you ride through… it still says 3 laps. Ugh! I don’t have much else to say about the race other than it wasn’t my kind of course. I eeked out an 11th place finish out of 30-some women. As a racer hovering somewhere between cat 2 and 3, I’m Ok with that.
Time for the griping. About this time every year I become aware of all the things I didn’t do in preparation for the season. This year I didn’t put in those long all-out efforts like I had done in previous years. Ok, so moving and all of that really took a toll on…everything. Also, and I hate to make excuses, but I just can’t figure out how/where to train here. When I say there is nowhere to ride…I’m kinda not joking. We have the Prairie Path which is nice for putting in some slow miles and towing the kiddo, but you can’t ride fast because 1.) there are too many recreational riders, kids and dogs and 2.) the path crosses an intersection at least once per mile or two. So you can’t get going because you will have to come to a compete stop and wait for the light (or a rolling stop if there’s no traffic, which is rare). It seems that pedestrians don’t have the right of way either, so even if you are at a crosswalk nobody stops. Like, even if you are with a bunch of kids and strollers no one is nice enough to stop. Pretty sucky.
The same intersection issue applies to road rides here- there is one route from our town and it crosses well over a dozen major intersections. So you can’t put in an hour at 20mph…you can maybe do that for a mile stretch but the rest of the ride is around 15-17 mph as you cruise through residential areas and try not to tick off drivers and pedestrians. The group I rode with over the summer tends to run red lights en masse which really bugs me. Yeah, I understand that it sucks to stop every mile or two. But- running lights obviously doesn’t shed a positive light on the cycling community. Not to mention the safety factor! I was surprised to learn that there are good cycling routes out of the city- usually it’s the other way around.
We also only have one mountain bike trail in the entire Chicago area and it’s a long drive from here, especially with traffic. That trail is closed when it rains, and when it’s open the number of attendees on a group ride can exceed 50! E went on one of those rides and said it was insane with people jockeying for position like it was a race. Can you imagine a 50-person Grand Ridge ride?? E also said that those same riders poach hiking trails…I guess if they ride them enough they will eventually get turned into bike trails. Again, not a good move for the cycling community.
There is a lot of pent-up demand for cycling opportunities here in Illinois. Almost a sense of desperation. We do have one bright spot though- a reclaimed waste site near the Indiana border will become Chicago’s first “eco-recreation” area. It will feature permanent cyclocross, BMX and dual-slalom courses along with a pump track and XC trails. Pretty exciting. It has major supporters like the City of Chicago and SRAM (their HQ is here!) and is slated to open in 2015.
Sorry to gripe. So back to my training (or lack thereof)- I feel like I’m trying to cobble together a gourmet meal with an onion, a shoelace and a Mr. Coffee machine. It’s just not happening. So maybe 2015 is the year to check a triathlon and marathon off my bucket list- running opportunities are endless here and I have all winter to learn how to swim…