In the (Feed)Zone: Progress - Now that I’m healthy and fast again I won’t be racing for a while

By: Mark Swartzendruber
Posted: May 6, 2015

Now that I’m healthy and fast again I won’t be racing for a while

Backtrack to April 4.  It was a cold day with blustery winds, as per, in the land beside the Big Water known as Chiberia.  The local not pornographic despite their name xXx Racing club throws a bike race directly on  the lake front about 4 miles in a straight line East of Druberstadt.  Despite the cold conditions, I couldn’t not go.  The sun was shining after all and that my friends is a rare thing in Chiberia in the epoch of Global Climate Change.

Despite much fear and trepidation of the Flail, I’d determined what with limited opportunities to race due to ongoing DIY reconstruction of the Dump TLK and I own on the frozen lake in Wisconsin (which we’ve named Morningwood) and the time demands thereof on every weekend of the next 20 years or so it seems – in order to consider oneself a bike racer, one must by definition race bikes.

On the start line, I staged next to EMCC2 rider Matt Howley and to his immediate right staged the esteemed Zionist.  Howley broke his hip 2 years ago and is duly rodded and bolted together.  Zionist missed last season with back surgery and is carrying a fair amount of permanent structural titanium in his lumbar region.  That’s the thing about Masters racing.  We’re walking wounded with veritable hardware stores worth of artificial mechanical improvements buttressing the backs, hips, clavicles and etc.

Despite the lack of a winter trip to California and the lack of any real speed work I found that I was able to make attacks, bridge gaps and essentially move about as I wished without the least bit of back pain.  

The race ended in a bunch sprint won by Clean Gene Tolli and I finished 8th despite just rolling in with the bunch after a failed last lap solo flyer attempt that was caught with a half lap to go.

The next weekend, again, having respite from work at Morningwood, I was able to stay home and play bikes.  The Boys in Polkadots, Burnham Racing, proud wearers of the ugliest kits in the United States host a race at a sports car race track on the IL / Wisconsin border.  It’s called the Burnham Spring Snooper Crit.  Scarlet Fever was in full force with Lt. Dan, Down Lowe, Hard Cory, Mongo, JBo and I all present.  The race was pretty aggressive but given the non-technical nature of the flat course with wide roads and sweeping curves, it was destined to boil down to a bunch drag, which with Mongo and Hard Cory in the pack, we liked.

Once again, I found that I was able to ride like Druber of old.  Aggressive, in a lot of moves off the front, pulling back threatening breaks and moving from back to front at will.  

The race was scheduled for 45 minutes and I was counting on that until I looked up at the lap counter from the very back of the race 36 minutes into the festivities and saw 2 laps to go.

“Shit” I said to myself – not only am I not getting the 45 minutes I paid for, I’m gonna have to work a whole lot harder than I really should have to getting  to the front for the  last lap of stringing things out for Hard Cory and Mongo.  So, in the head wind stretch just before the final corner, I swept forward as Lt. Dan was pulling the field in pursuit of a solo Scott Pearson 2 seconds up the road.  I slotted in behind Lt. Dan and when he pulled off I motioned for him to slot in again behind me as I closed the gap to Pearson.  Well, Lt. Dan though strong and an able time trial rider, hasn’t really ever been on an organized team until he was drafted by us and he was a bit disoriented and completely pulled off rather than slotting back in behind me and recovering for the next pull.  

That left me on front to waste everything I had for about a mile and a half when the most I had left was a half mile at best.  JBo stepped up next and pulled through really hard as Hard Cory was yelling for me to keep the tempo high.  We had our sprinters in place, but our lead out train was derailed.  Complete Flail.  Mongo and Hard Cory got swallowed up in the ensuing chaos as the field bunched up and while both managed top 10 finishes, the guys in the ugly kits went 1,2.

My last day of freedom, Sunday the 12th I got up early and went for a time trial.  The John Fraser Memorial TT is a long standing event hosted by the ABD Cycling club.  9.75 miles in length with two turnarounds, it’s not an easy course to post a fast speed.  This particular day there was a steady 15 mph wind blowing from the South, which made for an almost constant cross wind save for 1 mile of either tail or headwind in the mid part of the course.  I rolled a 20:30 for 27.5 avg speed at 357 avg watts.  I also made my bike go 40 mph in the short tail wind section so that was fun.  Good day, good sensations, feeling much serenity as they say in Europe.  Up and coming young xXx TT rider Ryan Fay had the best time of the day at 20:23.  I’m always happy to see young Cat 1 and 2 racers show up at time trials.  As I always preach, bike racers need to TT to be legit.

So – that was the last race I’ll be doing for quite some time.  I’m hoping to be able to return to the fray for the Prairie State Cycling Series in July.  I know I will be riding our Scarlet Fire Racing ITT in Garden Prairie on June 20th before hustling up to Central Wisconsin to hang drywall or lay flooring or install cabinets or whatever else may be required at Morningwood.

Finally – on the first Sunday of May, once again Scarlet Fire Racing and Wild Card Cycling hosted the best race of the early season in Urbana, IL at Crystal Lake Park.  The course is an awesome 1.6 mile circuit through the tree lined streets and winding park road.  Everyone who’s done the race calls the course one of their favorite all of all time.

Sierra Siebenlist made Scarlet Fever all over everywhere winning the Women’s Open again and then we had an awesome champagne cork flail.  SiSi couldn’t get the cork out of the bottle, because, you know bike racers don’t do upper body workouts.  So 2nd place Daphne gave it a shot using her cleat to coax the stubborn cork.  No good, so the bottle then went to 3rd place Dani Arman, a reformed tri athlete who presumably lifts weights with her arms every once in a while.  Nope.  Being all manly man, race promoter Druber steps in, strengthened from carrying sheets of drywall and 80 lb sacks of concrete mix at Morningwood.  Nothing.  I did manage to rip the top half of the cork away from the part stuck in the bottle.  So, we gave SiSi a new bottle which she was able to open and spray all over after which, so thirsty from the effort of trying to remove the cork, they all shared the remaining contents.

In the Procrit, home town hero and former Scarlet Fire Junior racer Hogan Sills, fresh off a 6th place finish in the US Pro Criterium National Championships used his powerful sprint to win over a strong field of riders headed by the Quantum Racing team out of St Louis and the EGO p/b Sammy’s Bikes Chicagoland troupe.

Look for the Urbana Grand Prix again next year.  First Sunday of May, which in 2016 will be May 1st.

If anything noteworthy happens between now and July, I’ll be sure to let you know.  Until then, I’ll hopefully see you at the Prairie State Cycling Series.