MEN PRO 1/2
Rob: This is going to be yet another race stacked with talent. I'm disappointed Scott Baumer won't be racing this year, as he's still out with a broken collarbone. We're teammates on the Shamrock Cycles cyclocross team, although there's a pretty big talent discrepancy between the two of us; Scott might be faster, but unlike him, I can actually ride over sticks.
Riley: Josh Johnson is getting married the day before. Katie, his soon-to-be wife, will be there watching and cheering him on with that sparkly rock on her hand. He's been riding so well for so long, I honestly can't say how she'd take it if he didn't do well. Jojo might have to pedal back to Ft. Wayne if he doesn't bring home the bacon to his wife.
Rob: For me, the race is secondary to the legendary social-media battle between Bissell-ABG-Giant Adam Leibovitz, the three-time winner of Indy Crit, and Texas Roadhouse's Chad Burdzilauskas, who has come in second at Mass Ave for the last three years in a row.
Riley: Chad needs to do less training at the Triton Tap so he can break his second place streak and actually get in the finishing frame of Leibo's GoPro video! Unfortunately for the Burd-man, I think Adam continues his winning ways, with Chad, Colton and Jojo giving him a run for his money.
Rob: Texas Roadhouse's Kyle Perry had a nice string of victories earlier this season, and earned a top-10 placing at Indy Crit. I can see him on the podium, maybe even on the top step. The same goes for his teammate Colton Barrett, assuming he's in town. If Chad doesn't burn all of his matches helping his teammates, he can make the podium yet again. Adam's almost definitely going to be in that mix.
Rob: (Podium, in no particular order) Perry, Leibovitz, Barrett
Riley: (Podium, in no particular order) Leibovitz, Johnson, Burdzilauskas
MEN MASTERS 40+ and MEN MASTERS 50+
Rob: This is the race that typically has the fewest crashes, despite all the puddles of Ben Gay scattered across the course. Do you have a favorite in the race?
Riley: I'm required to say Dean (Peterson, Riley's Marian University coach). We have an obligatory Dean cheering section. We might even make t-shirts this year.
Rob: Is that mandatory? Will he revoke your scholarship if you're not there to cheer him on or if you don't compliment his racing afterward?
Riley: Ha. He's actually pretty humble about his racing. ... I think he appreciates us being there and complimenting him afterwards, so I do, just to be on the safe side.
Rob: I was going to pick Harry Clark for the 40+ podium, but he joked he was racing the single-speed category. Good luck on your new career at Jimmy John's, Harry! Due to his lack of cut-off jean shorts and full arm sleeve of tattoos, I think he's stuck in the master's race, though. Either way, I'm picking his teammate Chris Richter for the win in the 40+ race.
Rob: 40+ Chris Richter, Team Heroes/ 50+ Jim Creamer, Team Heroes
Riley: 40+ Andrzej Banaszkiewicz, Bissell-ABG-Giant/ 50+ Dean Peterson, Zipp Factory Racing
WOMEN CATEGORY 1/2/3
Rob: Riley, you'll be racing in this field. How do you like your chances?
Riley: Thank goodness Bri Clark will be back, so we have some First Internet Bank ladies to follow around on the course!
I personally have never beaten Sierra Siebenlist. She knows her strengths and uses them pretty well. I think I could beat her in a short sprint, but she usually likes to take a flyer on the last lap or so, and I've never actually jumped on her. I beat Bri in a windy crit, mostly by good timing. I haven't seen either of them all summer, but they are both usually pretty strong, and I'm not exactly in tip-top shape, so I'll have to be smart if I want to do it again.
Rob: I heard Chloe Dygart won't be racing this year. How is it competing against her? How do the dynamics of the race change when she's not in the field?
Riley: The few races I've competed against her in the past year were like she wasn't even there; she just went off the front alone, and there were only a few weak attempts to chase her down. Once, I honestly thought I got second, but then I remembered she finished about 5 minutes earlier! Without her, it'll be a more even playing field, which makes for a more interesting, dynamic race in my opinion. More people can play because we aren't just chasing.
Rob: Sierra Siebenlist, Scarlet Fire Racing
Riley: Bri Clark, First Internet Bank
ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Riley Missel is a 21-year-old student-cyclist at Marian University. She started racing when she joined the collegiate team. Robert Annis has written about cycling for Outside, National Geographic Traveler, Bicycling, Men's Journal, Popular Mechanics, Bike, Midwest Living, Dirt Rag, Velo News and others.