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Aug 01, 2019

Ten Days of Racing at Intelligentsia

From July 19-28 we sent two of our elite racers, Andy Dudle (Emmaus) and Chris Baccash (Doylestown) to the Windy City for ten days of racing at the Intelligentsia Cup. Each evening offered a new race in the communities surrounding our nation's second largest city. Chris took some time to reflect on the experience and benefits of racing on a national stage and we included those reflections below. We hope you enjoy his recap!

It is hard to explain to my co-workers why I spent 10 days on "vacation," in Chicago, staying in someone's in-law suite, and racing my bike. It's probably hard to wrap the mind around why you would take time off and come back bruised, tired, and five pounds lighter. To many, it probably sounds like the worlds worst vacation, but here's why I do it:

The experience of multi-day bike races involves really getting to know your host town. We stayed in West Dundee, Illinois with our wonderful host Muffin, and her humans, Dar and Al. Al has lived in this home his entire life, and he doesn't plan on leaving any time soon. They are the sweetest hosts, even when we clog their drains and arrive at odd hours of the night. This was my third time staying with them, and it truly is a homecoming when I arrive.

West Dundee is like Doylestown (not as good, but bear with me), with obvious and beautiful mid-1800 history and architecture. On the night of the West Dundee race (a .7 mile crit loop with a crippling hill) the town came out in droves and the close-knit culture was ever-present. Traveling is most rewarding when you feel like you're part of your destination-- these racing trips afford that opportunity. You see and experience the town the same way the residents do for ten days, meet their families, their dogs, learn about their lives and experience their hospitality. It's intimate and rich, and I'm beyond grateful for the opportunity to call West Dundee home for 2.7% of the year.

Onto the racing...The quality and quantity of racers were top notch. There were 100+ starters each night on tight courses. Several courses were .6 laps with lap times of 1:15. Fast! The races were hard, we struggled, sometimes we got popped, sometimes we surprised ourselves. We went out there to learn and get our teeth kicked in so that we could finish the season stronger and get used to a higher caliber of racing. We learned that the mental battle in theses races is paramount. You need to tell yourself that you belong, that you are a contender, you can finish the race well, and you will if you focus and suffer a little bit. I learned that I can psych myself into a race one day, and psych myself out the next day. Beyond the mental game, the talent and pace were so great, that some nights, despite my best prep and attitude, I just couldn't hang with the 800-900 watt surges once ever 40 seconds.

I've had my fair share of profound experiences in life where you realize and feel that there is "another level," to something that you thought you knew pretty well. This trip was one of those experiences-- the racing was on "another level," and it left me wanting more. There's nothing more satisfying for me than striving for mastery of something I love. The journey to mastery is why I do this sport. Mastery itself is an illusion, but training to get there is the content of my happiest days. Racing some of the hardest crits in America last week inspired me and light my fire. I'm excited for the rest of the season, and next year.

Finally, I'm extremely grateful for the support of our Doylestown community to make the experience possible. Thanks for reading, and I hope to ride with you all soon.

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