The Snake is all about pain, and how much pain a racer is willing to endure -and to what level. How long can you go without breathing while destroying your legs? Phrase of day: "Pain is temporary."
I had a call up for the starting top ten spots, so I had good positioning coming around the first turn and charging up the hill before The Snake. If you don't know, The Snake is a steep, twisty, narrow, and bricked street. Like the one in San Fran. I climbed somewhere in the middle of the front on the first time up. ANYTHING could go wrong here, and not just with your stuff. Mishaps include: unclipping shoes, dropping chains, crossing wheels, and clogging racers. So as we crested, I breathed a little sigh of relief. But not for long; the downhill turns required all my attention. This race is Fox River Grove on crack.
While on the second lap, on The Snake, I dodged a tangle of riders to my left early and drilled it a bit harder because the tangle caused a little separation. (That's why I like riding up in the middle.) I could now count the riders in front of me; we were all together and dimming the lights on the racers behind us.
As the hellish laps wore on, teammate Ryan joined me and began ripping apart the corners like a runaway power saw turned loose a sheet of thin plywood. I, on the other hand, was doing no such ripping. I went too wide and even feathered my breaks a couple of times! Shame on me! Ryan grew stronger by the lap.
With maybe three to go, four of us climbed together leading the race. The sun was now beating down my neck; my mouth packed with cotton. Lo! May my suffering end soon! I found myself second and third wheel a few times as The Snake continued to replace my essential bodily fluids with its Burlington, venomous mix of bricks and hecklers.
"Just slow down!" "You can stop now you know!?" "How about a smoke?"
Ouch! The rider behind me passed (can't remember where) but the third place position on the podium had just gapped me big time on the downhill. Ryan was up ahead thrashing with first place. I looked back to see if I had fourth place secure. No wheels. Gotta just hold on. Fourth place paid out 65$, and Ryan won the race passing the lead rider while descending on the downhills. He truly deserves this win. We had 3 xXxers finish in the top ten at The Snake. Impressive. Thanks to the city of Burlington, Ms. Hunsacker and her crew, and all the officials that continue to make this race THE hardest crit in the Midwest.