Chicago is one of my favorite races of the year. It is easy (logistically) because I’ve been here many times. All but once since 1995 to be exact. The area is beautiful. We are near a ton of food places. Most of the teams stay in a few block radius which makes it fun to interact with others. Sometimes when you are the only team at the hotel it can get boring. Never here in Chicago. The 7-Up team (and their sister team – Team Diet Rite), the Prime Alliance team and a host of small teams at our hotel makes for a fun area to work at. Saturn and Schroeder and I’m sure a few others are across the street. Always someone to chat with while working.
If you make a category narrow enough one could be on top of the pile. I always joke about being the top Asian on area training rides. There are always local pros on our weekly rides here and there. Sometimes it seems like the entire Beer team is training here. So, If I can’t beat everyone, I’ll make my own category. If I believe correctly, there is only one rider who has won both the Pro Criterium championships and the Pro Road Championships in their career. Chann McCrae was crit champ when he and I were on Saturn and he was the road champ when he and I were on postal last season. So, I think I’m the only mechanic who had wrenched for a rider who has won both the Pro Crit and Pro Road jersey. Make sense? Like I said, make a category narrow enough and you too could be on top.
Wrenching here in Chicago is only slightly harder than breathing. Yes, it is a physical job and it can sometimes be long hours. Chicago fits that description too. But it is easy because everything is close by including the race course. A 10 minute ride or maybe 5 or 6 minutes by car and we are at one of the coolest races of the year.
Last year there was a huge pile up with less than 5 laps to go. With less than 5 laps to go means there are no more free lap and all would have to catch back up on their own. None did nor none would at this point. At 5 to go, if you are down for 10 seconds it is a hard chase. More time on the ground and it is impossible. Our of a field of 100 plus guys 20 or less were still upright after last years crash and thus the other 80 plus guys were either on the ground or caught behind the wall of down riders. That was the only fact the made me nervous this year. It is the Jersey for the first American across the line and it is a Criterium which with the speed and corners sometimes makes for a bad brew of crashes. Well, this year with a few small exceptions it was a safe race.
This race was so laid back/easy (not physically but logistically) that I felt I could do it blind folded.