|The house band rocked the 1/2's race|
The Nebraska Cyclocross Championship weekend is one of those race weekends you look forward to as soon as the last one ends. You never know what's going to pop up on hooligan hill. This year it was a full on amplified punk band with my man DK pounding the skins. If you didn't come back on Sunday to see this you missed one of the most awesome spectacles in cyclocross.
The weekend started off much like my last weekend of racing in Nebraska with a rolled front tire, straight of the line. This time around there was really no room for error as I was lined up with a pretty staked field. In addition to the usual NE suspects, we were also joined by World/National champ Steve Tilford, his equally fast, if not faster, teammate Brian Jensen. Down from SoDak was speedster Jeff Kluck and belgie euro stud Aaron Pool.
The stupidity began when I opted for new shoes this week. The slightly different step in point on the cleat made me slip my pedal which jerked the bike and I somehow peeled the tire bead off the rim. The familiar sound of brake rubbing tire was all I needed to hear to know I was in trouble. By the top of climb the brake pad had cut through the tire and punctured the tube and I still had a 1/3 lap to go before I could get into the pits. I could actually ride the flat pretty well and didn't lose too much time. Jay and Josh, met me in the pits and I was on the spare bike in no time and on the chase.
|Making myself dizzy|
State Championship Sunday
|The lead group coming together on lap 1|
Photo: Dan Farnham
At the whistle, I again missed my pedal but managed to hold fourth wheel onto the grass behind Matt, Jeff and Nate. Within a lap we had an established group of us four as we were also joined by Matt Farnahm. My plan was to conserve as much as possible, which meant riding a tactical race. The pace was comfortable but the legs really felt the climb on the backside of the course. In contrast, Jeff appeared to be really strong, at my weakest point. I wasn't comfortable with our group of five as Jeff and I did the lions share of the work into the headwind on the road.
I began to test the group, with little accelerations, first popping Nate off and then Farnham. This made me more nervous as it seemed like Jeff and Matt were responding to everything pretty easily. By the time I saw five laps to go I had devised the plan. It seemed like I could always get a slight gap after the speed barriers, so the 5th lap would be spent getting the heart rate as low as possible with the intent of launching a full lap assault with 4 to go.
The plan materialized perfectly when as we started the 4th lap, Jeff pulled off the front and gave me the lead. Through the barriers and I got clipped in immediately and sprinted out of the saddle up to speed. For the next lap I forced myself to stand and accelerate out of every corner as well as drill it up the climb. I recovered enough by the time we got back to the road that I could drop all the way into the 12 and finish out the lap.
|Splitting the front group on lap 3|
Photo: Dan Farnham
|The days efforts were showing on Matt and Nate's faces, it was brutal out there|
|NE travel squad|
|Matt recovered well from a opening lap slide out.|
|And I leave you with this...um, yeah.|