A couple weeks ago I headed out for my annual midwest trip. Normally I’d head out to Minneapolis for a road stage race, North Star Grand Prix, but unfortunately this year it was cancelled. We changed up the plan a bit and flew out early to hangout at Donkey Label and then head to Tour of America’s Dairyland for eleven consecutive days of 90 minute crits.
Minneapolis is always a good time. With some spare time on my hands we had time to start putting the finishing touches on the coming cyclocross kits. They won’t be quite as colorful as last year’s, but I think they’re going to be the best looking ones we have done yet. Also, with it being mid June and all, Bjorn Selander and I had time to run a little local cyclocross clinic. About 30 people showed up to the clinic. We ran some starts, corners, shouldering, and barrier drills. After that everybody came back to Donkey Label for food and drinks. It was a super good time and a bit of a wakeup call. Cyclocross is coming up quicker than you think!
After a week or so in Minnesota I headed out to Milwaukee where most of the crit racing was. I was lucky enough to share a host house with my two friends from the Santa Cruz area. Early in the week the weather for TOAD was less than ideal, I was actually chilly a couple times on our rides as I didn’t really pack anything more than jerseys and bibs. Rookie move. It seems like every other time I’ve come out in the summer its been 85 degrees and humid.
I’m not going to lie, on night one of racing I was feeling a bit rusty. It has been a while since I’ve been in a big fast crit with a lot of riders I don’t know. For me more than anything TOAD was all about fitness and speed work for cyclocross and not taking any unnecessary risks. Most days I found myself tail-gunning the back for about 20 minutes of warm-up before moving up to the front of the race every night. I tried to avoid sitting main pack as that is where all the crashes seem to happen.
There were two big crashes I narrowly avoided. I swear sometimes you can just sense it’s about to happen. I watched two riders bumping for position going into corner three of night two. Neither of them seemed to establish position over the other and boom they went down hard. I leaned the bike up and just rode tangent out of the corner straight into somebody’s lawn. Shook my head and sprinted back into the back of the group. On another night it was getting dark in the trees and the course lights hadn’t quite warmed up yet. As we’re all adapting to the low light there’s another crash right in front of me. I ran straight over somebody while unclipped and somehow didn’t go down. So sketchy.
Evening crits are a bit odd as you basically have an entire day before it where you shouldn’t expend yourself too much. We usually woke up around 9 then coffee, read a bit of the paper, and then kitted up and head out for a 60-90min ride. Obviously there was another coffee shop stop at the end of the morning rides before heading home for a shower and some breakfast. After all this, the afternoons consisted of lots and lots of Netflix and chill and the occasional grocery run before packing the car and heading to where that evening’s race was around five o’clock.
All and all the trip was exactly what I needed with cross on the horizon. Each 90 min race had exactly what I felt I needed going into the season. I feel like last year I missed this block of speed work and it had a bit of an effect on my snap last season. Escaping unscathed there are a couple more races on my schedule before I head cyclocross starts in Rochester, NY on September 7th!
Comments will be approved before showing up.