Where the rubber meets the road



By Brad Vest

Near-freezing temperatures and snow on the ground aren’t exactly ideal conditions for bicycle racing. The possibility of ice storms don’t help either.

Ideal or not, those variables plus a constant wind from the west were what the Illini Cycling team was up against as they traveled to Columbus Ohio last weekend.

The team was in Ohio for their first Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference criterium and cycling race of the spring season, which runs until the end of April.

Six members of the Illini Cycling team competed in the Class A Ohio State University Campus Criterium, racing an average 27 miles per hour into the bitter air. The event involved one hour of racing around a .85 mile loop on the outskirts of the university’s campus.

The field of racers consisted of more than 60 riders from a diverse group of schools, including Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Notre Dame, Marian and others.

From the start of the race, Michigan State’s Greg Christiansen cranked away from the field in an early attempt to single himself out to have a chance to win the race. John Meyers, a member of the Illini Cycling team, soon gave chase but was unable to catch the MSU rider.

“Greg was not going to be caught by me alone,” Meyers said.

Meyers, however, gained a second wind as another group of riders broke from the main field and joined him in an effort to catch the distancing MSU rider.

“I was tired as hell and they were catching me,” Meyers said. “I thought it would be beneficial to work with the other riders to increase the likelihood of catching him.”

Meyers, along with the Indiana and Wisconsin riders, continued his push for Christiansen the rest of the race.

In the end, the endurance and early push from Christiansen was too much to overcome.

But Meyer’s early effort to catch Christiansen paid off, as he cranked away from the Indiana and Wisconsin riders at the end to grab second place.

Jamie Kimberley, another member of the Illini Cycling club team, sprinted it out along with the main field of riders to finish ninth.

The weekend was cut short as mother nature reared its ugly head and unleashed the predicted ice storm Saturday night.

Craig Erbach, president of the Ilini Cycling club, was the bearer of bad news Sunday morning.

“We are really looking forward to the upcoming road races despite the first being canceled,” Erbach said. “It’s good to see all the great new riders have fun, and have John place second in the ‘A’ class criterium. It’s looking like it will be a great year.”