Friday, December 17, 2010
US National Cyclocross Championships
The week was a whirlwind. Tuesday we drove to Bend and Nate and Troy pre-rode the course. Wednesday, Nate and Troy raced the killer B's while I pitted for them. Thursday, Troy did his seeding TT as I took to the course for inspection. Friday, Nate and I did our seeding TT and Troy raced with Nate and I in the pits. Saturday Nate and I raced and then we drove back to Portland to catch our early Sunday morning flight. Seems like every "vacation" I take requires a vacation from the vacation.
I wasn't very optimistic going into the weekend. The poor results in Portland at the USGP had me thinking my legs were baked and I was just going through the motions to finish out the season. The cramping I suffered in Portland really trashed my left calf, and it wasn't until my pre-ride on Thursday that I felt normal. In fact, the legs actually felt pretty good.
Fridays time trial was always going to be interesting. My 9:55am start time meant the course was very likely going to be icy. Sure enough, my pre-ride was...interested. As I got my warm-up going on the trainer I got word that Tilford had posted a 5:59! Fifteen seconds faster than Don Myrah's time the day before, my bar was set. I had a decent run, stayed upright on the icy course but was gutted when Troy told me I only rode a 6:22. This wasn't going to end well...I thought. Upon returning to the course for Nate's TT I didn't even want to look at the results. I had pretty much convinced myself I'd be back in the 40's or 50's. To my surprise though, my time put me in 15th, maybe there was some life in these legs yet. When the released the start list, I had a solid 3rd row start position, which was right where I wanted to be. When you're in the top three rows, it's pretty easy to get to the front, any further back and you're in for a fight.
Enter the weather... Reports started circulating about a storm coming in early Saturday morning calling for temps in the low 30's with snow and rain all day. I was pleasantly surprised to wake up to no new snow. Unfortunately it only lasted about an hour as soon after big snowflakes started falling from the sky. As race time approached the snow had turned to rain, temps still in the 30's mind you. The day was going to be a war of attrition. I was stoked, I can ride in this stuff. I just needed to stay as warm and dry as possible while standing on the line. Race gloves were tucked under my jacket and inside my skinsuit, I wouldn't put them on until the last minute. Embro was laid on heavier than I'd ever applied before. No glasses, just a cycling cap.
As we stood on the line, big flakes again began to fall. Two minutes to go, jacket off then draped over my shoulders. Tights off, legs felt warm. heavy gloves off, dry race gloves on, jacket off for good, handed it all to Troy, ready to go. The flakes of snow soaked through my skinsuit and baselayer, the 30 second warning until the whistle blew felt like an eternity. GO! We sprinted off in a spray of slush and ice water, I thought to myself, this is going to be a long day.
The start was good, easily into the top 15. A little bumping, a few elbows but I settled in quite nicely. I was moving up when I soon found I guy on the deck in front of me. No time to re-direct as I rolled over his Easton carbon wheels. I stalled out and lost my balance. Somehow the rider managed to get up and going faster than me but then fell again while trying to remount. I hit him a second time, again riding over his carbon wheels. The whole debacle cost me quite a few places and I regrouped and set about making up for lost time. After a lap and a half my hands were ice blocks. I could no longer feel my shifters and had to look down to see if I was pushing in the right spot.
Had my second close call when a guy moved over on me a pushed into the tape and into a stake. I kept it upright but went close to going over the bars. I quickly got going again and from then on it was a case of course management. Drill it as hard as could on the fast gravel half, and try not to lose to much time on the power sucking grass half. My gains outweighed my loses and soon was sitting in 10th right behind Portland ringer Shannon Skerrit. Doug Krumpelman was charging up on us from behind and I wanted an insurance spot to guarantee a top 10. I finally got by Skerrit and the pressure from behind was pushing us towards 8th placed Ward Baker and Michael Robson. With one lap to go I was pushing hard and before I knew it Baker was right in front of me. I attacked the stairs on the final lap 300m from the finish and squeezed by Baker right as we crested the last stair. I jumped on and went as hard as I could. A quick look back as we entered the paved finish straight and a few hard pedal strokes solidified a hard fought 8th place.
My goal was top 10 and I was ecstatic to go as high as 8th. I honestly thought 10th was a long shot. So that's all she wrote. The 2010 CX season is basically finished. Time to regroup and think about next season.