Photo: Amy Weik
Photo: Amy Weik

Bilbo Dirtbaggins / Masters 30+

Afterglow is always a good time.  Low key vibe, well run, and a guaranteed fun course.  This year was no different.  The whole crew responsible for the race did an excellent job making it fun for everyone.

Snow and mud were on tap after a week of up and down temps and precipitation.  I toed the line in the 30+ field, and being the first race of the day meant we would be breaking in the course, and setting the lines for the later races.  Conditions would drastically change throughout the race as the snow and grass got torn up. Whistle blows and we are off.  I got my usual start, which I often compare to a 1970’s Mercedes Diesel accelerating from 0 to 60.  I get swamped by other riders and find my self midpack hitting the first few turns.  With the slick conditions the pace slows. I jump off the bike and start running, passing several riders, and end up running a good 200 meters to the first set of barriers before remounting.  Back on the bike, and continue trying to make up time.  I burned way too many matches on the first lap and a half, but that’s what a bad start requires if you want to make up places.  Eventually I settle into 6th place.  Battle out with a few guys for a bit, finding spots to makes passes, making my way up to 4th.  At this point gaps had opened to the riders in front and behind me.  Now it was all about keeping the bike upright, limiting mistakes, and hoping one of the leaders would start to fade.  Riding in these conditions is always fun, and it was great test of bike handling skills through all of the off-camber sections and sand pits.  The mud got slicker and deeper, and as the laps ticked by everything became harder.  Small bobbles here and there, but no big mistakes.  I was able to hold onto 4th and my best result of the season.  Another fun day spent in the cold and mud of the Chicago cyclocross scene.

Now that the cross season is over, I am not sure how I thought I could resist racing this year. Cyclocross is way too much fun to sit on the sidelines and watch.  Looking forward to some gravel grinding at Southern Cross and Barry Roubaix in a couple months, and cyclocross 2014.  How long until Jackson Park?

Photo: Brandon Murphy

A-Dub / W123

As the last race of the year with nothing on the line except who can have the most fun and raise the most money for charity, Afterglow is always a blast!  And one of my favorite parts about Afterglow is that I can ride to the race!

After a decent start, I ended up in the back of the pack as usual. However, I was surprised to be in front of Christine Tejada, aka recently upgraded 2013 Illinois State W4 Champ, so I did my best to keep that placing.  But lady luck wasn’t on my side and as I went to remount following the hill barrier and run-up, I tripped on a loose root and performed a spectacular endo. As I laid alongside the course where I landed thoughts quickly whizzed through my mind: Is my knee broken? Should I get up? Will I increase my injury if I do?  After the mini-shock wore off and I reassured the passing racers that I was in fact OK, I got up and attempted to continue but could feel the body’s reaction to an injury building. Even if I continued my game was off and the chance of catching back up was not likely, so I decided to drop out. Should I have pushed through it? Maybe, but it was the right decision at the time and it just allowed me to get back to the cyclocross camaradarie that we all know and love.

Yep, I’ve got some lovely bruising on both legs but it was worth it and I had a great time!  Thanks Cuttin Crew and Robots <3 for an amazing day, and for your efforts promoting donations to keep the West Town Bikes and Blackstone Bicycle Works youth programs running!

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