Wow, I’m not too sure where to start. The past two weeks have been quite the whirlwind and I am just finally coming back to earth from cloud nine with everything sinking in. If you have been following my personal Facebook page or the Belgianwerkx page the past two weeks you probably know about the success Team Belgianwerkx and I have achieved throughout the Tour of America’s Dairyland series (ToAD) in the men’s 4/5 category. I won’t delve into the details of each race again but if you want to read more check out my Facebook page. In summary, here were my personal results:
6/21 – East Troy Cycling Classic: 4th Place
6/22 – Giro d’ Grafton: 5th Place
6/23 – Waukesha Carl Zach Cycling Classic: 1st Place
6/24 – Sheboygan Criterium: 6th Place
6/25 – Schlitz Park Criterium: 1st Place
6/26 – Fond du Lac Road Race: 10th Place
6/27 – Elkhart Lake Road Race at Road America: 2nd Place
6/28 – Fond du Lac Commonwealth Classic: 4th Place
6/29 – Downer Classic: 32nd Place
6/30 – East Tosa Gran Prix: 6th Place
Final Overall Category 4/5 Standings
1. Jadon Jaeger – Team Belgianwerkx
2. Paul Halupka – Jus d’ Orange
3. Frederick Derocher – KS Energy Services/Team Wisconsin
Honorary Team Classification: Team Belgianwerkx (my own personal nomination and award)
While the results show one side of the story a lot more happened outside of the races. I have made a lot of new friendships with teammates, fellow competitors, and fans. The strength of our team bond increased with each passing race as well as the amount of fun we had during the races, driving to the races, and recovering afterward at the great restaurants we ate at.
Even though we fought fiercely with each other during the races, it was all smiles between our team and our competition once we crossed the finish line. I have a lot of respect for many of the other racers who lined up next to me every day including Paul Halupka, Frederick Derocher, Steven Trebatoski, Brandon Berish, and Stephen Sodegren, just to name a few. It was truly a joy to meet and race with all of them. I’m sure we will be lining up next to each other again in the near future. Thank you Paul and Frederick for making it a fun battle for the overall right until the end. This is what racing should be about.
Throughout the series I was very humbled by all of the people that came up and congratulated me. Many of these people I had never met before but were reading my daily race reports on Facebook. I was stunned by the amount of fans I gained and who said they would look forward to reading my reports each night. One new fan stands out for me: Jim Giese’s son Jack. It was pretty cool when I saw Jim and Jack at Fond du Lac Commonwealth Classic and was told that they both looked forward to my reading my reports. I never knew my simple writing had this kind of reach or impact.
Looking back I can also see how I developed as a racer. As each race came and went, I grew more comfortable with racing shoulder to shoulder at high speeds and became less and less worried about crashing or race incidents. I also started to believe more and more in my abilities especially after the first five days. My pre-race thoughts turned from ‘Am I going to survive this one or get dropped?’ to ‘How can I win this race or at least how can I score the most points?’ Hopefully I continue to develop and get stronger on this path in the future.
Most Memorable Moments
Three moments stand out for me. The first moment would be my first win at Waukesha. My only previous win was a 6-man category 5 race which hardly compares to a 75-man field on a technical course in downtown Waukesha. Crossing the finish line with my breakaway companion Steven Trebatoski between the barriers and right in front of the cheering fans and spectators was an amazing feeling.
The second moment was my second win at the Schlitz Park Criterium. In short, that was the race of my life to date. Gapping the field by 90 seconds at the finish and lapping everyone up to 9th place is something I almost still cannot believe. Even though I was continually being told that my gap was increasing I refused to ease up. It was inspirational hearing people cheer me on every trip up the hill. Crossing the finish line all alone with both hands up was incredible.
The third and biggest moment was my teammates’ performance at the Fond du Lac road race. We had gone into that race with a strategy of protecting my overall lead, controlling the front of the field, and marking any attacks made by Paul Halupka. What I and no one else expected was the amount of success my team had. Patrick Brock and Austin Riley absolutely buried themselves for me. They chased back EVERY SINGLE threatening attack. They spent 95% of the race on the front of the field while I sat behind enjoying the ride and conserving energy. This kind of effort, control, and teamwork is something rarely displayed in the 4/5 category. Austin and Patrick received a lot of praise and kudos after the race from other racers for the show and clinic they put on. I believe this the defining and turning moment in the fight for the overall classification. I cannot state enough how thankful, impressed, and awestruck I was by their effort. Simply brilliant guys!
I had two scary moments where I was forced off course. The first one was being run onto someone’s grass after being pushed wide when a racer slid out on a wet corner at the wet East Troy Cycling Classic. The second moment was being forced onto the gravel shoulder in the closing, high-tension, moments of the Fond du Lac road race. Fortunately I was able to stay upright both times, remain calm, regain my composure, and finish strong.
Best Race Venue
It was an absolute blast and a great experience to race on the Road America race track. The surface was incredible, the scenic backdrop surrounding the track was beautiful, and it featured a hill that I attacked on almost every lap. I only wish the finish line came five feet earlier!
The new East Tosa Gran Prix on the final day was exceptional. The race course, again featuring a hill, was a lot of fun to do 32 laps on! The surrounding party and festive atmosphere was a great way to end the series. Kudos to the ToAD crew, the city of Wauwatosa, and all of the volunteers, businesses, and fans that made this a memorable event that I hope is back next year.
Thanks and Praise
I owe A LOT of thanks to many people who made all of this possible. This was by no means a solo effort. I will try to keep this brief and I hope I don’t forget anyone. I no particular order:
Thank you to all of my teammates who I either raced with or who cheered me on. In particular, thank you Patrick, Austin, and Bryan Hughes. You guys made this trip a huge amount of fun each day.
Thank you Nick, Bill, Jeremy, and everyone else at Belgianwerkx for the exceptional service and for keeping me rolling throughout the series. You have no idea how appreciative I am for being able to bring my bike in for quick cleaning or wheel fix.
Thank you to the ToAD crew for putting on an amazing series. I will definitely be back next year!
Thank you to all of the fans and spectators cheering at each race and everyone who congratulated me either in person or through social media. I sincerely appreciate all of it.
Thank you to all of the people, particularly Mike Froh and Patrick Brock that gave me tips, advice, and criticism about my racing tactics. A common theme definitely developed: stay OFF the front! Ha, I am still a rookie out there. Also thank you to Jim Giese and Jeramey Werbelow, both from Team Extreme, for instilling confidence in myself and my abilities, especially during the spring practice races.
Finally… thanks Mom and Dad for the continued support!
Jadon is a Cat 4/5 road racer for Belgianwerkx who is returning to competition after a few years away from the race scene with a focus on criteriums and road races. In 2013 he is learning the nuances of crit racing having previously focused most of his racing on hill climb events in his former home of Colorado.