While most of Indianapolis was looking for shade this past Saturday, elite cyclists were racing in Brookside Park, reinforcing my theory that bike racers are closet masochists. More than 40 individual riders and cyclists from smaller teams joined the powerhouse local teams Texas Roadhouse, Duke-Big Brothers and, my own, Bacardi-NUVO at the line for the headline event in the Truesport Metro GP series. Thanks to the temperature and humidity, the race was steady but a bit sluggish as we looped around the half-mile course. The three teams in primary contention simply eyed each other while individual riders had no desire to force the pace in the oppressive heat. In an attempt to wake up the pack from a 25 mph slumber, the organizer offered a mid-race prize: $20 to the first rider across the line the following lap. John Puffer (Athletes By Design) narrowly beat Jason Sonneborn, my Bacardi-NUVO teammate, to the line, forcing a split in the pack. Several of us immediately leapt off the front of the group. We each rotated through our small group, taking turns at the front and then sliding back to recover in the draft of our fellow escapees. Within a few laps, several more riders joined us to make it a group of 15, with each team represented. Inexplicably, the Dogfish team (with two riders in the leading move) decided to chase down the break and brought the entire field back together.
Often the best time to make an attack is when a previous breakaway returns to the field. Marco Aleida (Texas Roadhouse) has been racing long enough to know that and he took perfect advantage of the situation by launching himself like a cannon on the backside of the course. California-based professional Jason Allen (McGuire-Langdale) managed to latch onto his wheel and the two rapidly disappeared.
Sick from the heat, my Bacardi-NUVO teammates weren't sure what to do. None of us had the power to close the gap with Allen and Aleida, but we couldn't just watch them ride away. Karim Abdelkader (Duke-Big Brothers) provided the response. At a point in the race where the entire pack was beaten into submission, Abdelkader attacked and was closely followed by Charlie Crouse (Dogfish).
Suffering through the heat, the two pairs of riders stayed away to the end with Aleida taking top honors, Allen second and Abdelkader third. The rest of us in the field gutted out the sprint, relieved for the race to be over.
In the end, Duke-Big Brothers took the lead in the team series with four riders scoring top 20 points, Texas Roadhouse behind them thanks to Aleida's win and Dude Cox's fifth place, with Bacardi-NUVO following closely due to my seventh, Sonneborn's eighth and Jeff Weaver's 16th places.
The next race in the series is the Downtown Carmel Criterium on July 10. Stay tuned.