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Cycling Mon Oct 06 2008

ChiCrossCup #2: DeKalb

After I posted-up information last week about yesterday's cyclocross race in DeKalb, I started thinking about the weather and how it would shape up for race day. In cyclocross, the weather is the great variable, with torrential rain, wind, or snow usually guaranteeing miserable conditions for both racers and spectators alike. And that's a good thing. The sport of cyclocross feeds off this misery, with the racer best able to tolerate it being the one most likely to come out ahead and at number one.

It's still too early in the season for miserable weather, but for just an hour yesterday, the DeKalb race was given a small, sharp taste of what is to come in those latter days of November and December, when series points are in contention and racers' fitness is peaking.

As we were driving to the race to set it up (my team Half Acre Cycling partnered with North Central Cyclery to host this event), the clouds out west looked promising. However, it was until only halfway through the Men's Cat. 3 race that they really delivered. Up until then, the 2.1 mile course, a technical romp with plenty of chicanes, a steep run-up, and a killer off-camber descent, was mostly dry. The Men's Masters races were first to go off, as usual, for a solid 45 minutes of pain. The first to come across the line was Keith McMahon of Van Wagner/Yojimbo's Garage in the 30+, Tim Boundy of the Verdigris Custom Homes squad in the 40+, with his teammate Wayne Simon kicking it in the 50+ field.

In the Men's 3 race, Mike Hemme of local offroad experts Team Killjoy went off on a flyer in the first lap and brought it in for a win. Taking it as a bit of revenge for having his request for a Cat. 2 upgrade declined by the powers-at-be, Hemme's 2008 racing season has seen more than a fair share of successes, usually after a solo flyer. "Somehow I got a horrid start, caught in traffic and had to fight my way up. I was trying so hard to bridge in the first lap I fumbled and accidentally rode off course, I turned back in and apologized to whoever I probably misled behind me. I hate doing that and felt really bad."

In the Women's Pro/1/2/3 race, Holly Klug of Killjoy continued on her streak of being one of the fastest females around by taking first place, ahead of Jessica Hill of Trails End and June Upshaw of Verdigris Custom Homes.

Right as those races were ending, the occasional drops of rain spitting from the sky changed over to a slight drizzle just in time for the Women's 4 and Junior's race. Out of a strong field of 12, xXx Racing-Athletico rider Eileen Neville came in for the win, with Stacy Conrad of the Mission Bay squad in second, and Lana (or is it Lara) Mele for third. In the Junior's race, Brandon Feehery of the South Chicago Wheelmen squad came in for the win.

By that point, the rain was coming down, the grass, already slick from having hundreds of knobby tires tearing across it, was like an ice rink in some spots. Men's Pro/1/2/3 riders out checking the course, were slip-sliding while rolling at low speeds, and crashing when taking things with vigor. In their race, the sun came out just after they started, and as the race wore on, things dried out and the pace picked up. After the confusion of the first lap, Scott McLaughlin of the SRAM factory team was out in front and never looked back, taking first place ahead of Brian Conant of the Pony Shop brigade and Kevin Klug of Killjoy.

Finally, it was time for the Men's 4A/4B races to wreak havoc. Where in most other categories, racers are generally similar in ability and strength, the Men's 4 races have such a huge disparity - road Cat. 2 riders giving CX a try line-up against outright novices on their commuters, and when coupled with the massive fields, melee and mayhem are often watchwords. With no disappointment, yesterday's Men's 4 races were no different - crashes, pile-ups, slide-outs were commonplace. Early on in the day, the best viewing area for the race was by the one run-up, which featured an off-camber descent on slick mud and a short climb.

Emerging from the bloodbath intact in the 4A race was Jason Senffner of Pedal Power in first, Michael Seguin of xXx with second, and Maxwell Riordan of the Chicago Cuttin' Crew in third.

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