2009 Race Reports #20 & 21: Tour De Gaslight Criterium

2009 Race Report #20 - Tour de Gaslight Criterium - Masters. Attending the gaslight crit required waking early on a Sunday morning, loading the car, and waking my daughter who definitely did not view 4 hours in the car as something she wanted to do. But memory is a tricky thing and despite knowing that I, as a child, had dreaded some of the long car trips my parents took me on, I also accepted the reality that they were significant memories - rites of passage. Who am I to deny her such important milestones? The fact that my own mother was in town and that it would be a tri-generational trip made it much easier and we sped out through Chicago traffic to Grand Rapids.

Unsurprisingly, while talking in the car I missed the 80/94 split in SW Michigan and ended up racing up country roads to make up time. But we arrived with 45 minutes to spare and I even got a warmup. I felt ready from lap one and handily won a prime on lap two. Then, somehow the race split despite a slow pace and I found myself chasing the breakaway in a two man group with Rob D. This is NOT a strength and I didn't even last a full lap before Rob dropped me and I trickled back to the peleton.

The video captures the sprint. My limited strengths were put to good use - I hit it hard 150 meters prior to the final turn, cornered hard, and then hit the jets up the slight incline prior to the finish. John Sammut lead out and I put it all into the pedals, catching a lone breakaway rider en-route. I was amazed to find anyone on my wheel and then unsurprised to find Rob D. right there - contending despite surgery a month prior. A fun race. Katelina cheered every lap along with her tiny stuffed animal "Totoro" who sat on the haybales near turn 4.


2009 Race Report #21 - Tour de Gaslight Criterium - Pro 1/2

I'm convinced that the challenge of doubling up on race day (doing two races) has little to do with fitness and much more to do with hydration. When the summer heat, a prior race, and a long second race combine, dehydration is probably the most significant limiting factor for success.

I'm no rookie and I knew this so I tried to drink a decent amount in the hour between races. But I had to get more money from an ATM, re-register, switch numbers, pin them on, and refill my water bottles, so I did not have a great sense of 'thin blood' when I hit the line for the Pro race. The laps sped by and I metered out my first water bottle and just as it was almost empty 2/3's of the way through the long race, my second, and full water bottle popped out of the cage on a magically destructive hole in the road just out of turn two.

I knew I was in trouble immediately. Despite hoarding water, conserving energy and even getting a nice hand-over swig of gatorade from Cory Dubrish, my hamstrings were giving me the 'long pull' in the final laps whenver the pace called for significant power.

I tried to minimize massive power outlays until the final lap and saved one mouthful of water for the same, but in the end, my system was well beyond hydrated and as I tried to accel on the backstretch both hamstrings tried to lock into my glutes and my quads were firing and staying hot. I was not over my max and normally would have shot into position, but I just couldn't do it. I conserved all down the backstretch and then saved one final 2 second effort for the 'post-haybale' mark on the second-to-last straightaway. In the 2 seconds that I was able to fire my jets I jumped up about 8 places and weaved past receding cyclists and then entered the final straightaway with nothing, finishing 9th. Cory Dubrish was 6th, Luke Cavendar 2nd, and Ben Renkema first.


It was good to hang out with Finkle, Demerly, Fear, Cavendar, Dubrish,  Dybo and Rodd, but as the air quickly cooled in the late afternoon and the scent of the haybales seemed more robust, I realized that summer's last sprint was nearing its end, and that the shadows around us had that certain impenentrable blackness of the still bright but dying summer sun. I was sad and the drive home was filled with melancholy broken only by the bell tones of Katelina's pronouncements, "Totoro and I want sushi...!"

Like all childhood memories, it was something ridiculously mundane that Katelina will remember from this trip. After a stop for Chinese (not sushi), we were nearing home but she needed to use the restroom, so we stopped at the Des Plaines overpass. After arriving home I asked her what her best memory of the trip was. Her response?

"I finally got to go to the bathroom!"

Sometimes pleasure is merely the relief of pain...