Thursday, September 29, 2011

United States Gran Prix Round 1 & 2

Let's get right down to it. I was nervous as hell going into the first round of the USGP. So nervous I wanted to race Friday night and get it over with. I felt like the form was there, especially after the Gateway Cross Cup, but you just never know. The one benefit I had going for me this year was an awesome start position. Bib number five but I was the third rider called to line. Oddly enough as I sat on the line the nerves actually diminished.

Saturdays course was dry and fast. Crazy fast. All the corners had tons of grip. At the gun I felt like I got buried. I quickly found myself back in about 8th wheel as guys were just going for it. Bill Elliston shot of the front and a lap later was joined by Richard Feldman. As those two rode away I was stuck in the second group, fighting for position. By the time I got to the front of the chase group the two were gone. With four laps to go I made a move to try and go across. We were battling a pretty nasty wind though through the pit and finish line straightaways and one man wasn't going to close the gap to the leaders, let alone stay away from the second chase group.

After a lap off the front I was caught and decided to sit in and save what energy I could for the final lap. Brian Conant was easily the strongest in the group and he took the initiative to set the pace. As we started the last lap, Jerry Long took over with me sitting second wheel. With a half lap remaining and leading into the technical back half of the course, Conant made his move. I quickly jumped on his wheel and waiting for the final. As we came onto the road for the sprint to the finish I lost contact by a bike length or two and it was just enough that I came up one inch short in the sprint for third place. Elliston took the win with Feldman second.

Day two was going to be a different story. It started raining heavily by mid morning and are start was actually pushed back 20 minutes because of lightning. I knew I'd have a good advantage coming from a mountain bike background and I was smiling in anticipation.

The start was again a crazy affair. I managed to go a little bit better and rode much more aggressively. I still lost a few spots as others were willing to take bigger risks than me in the opening corners. But I knew the real battle was going to be after the first lap. I rode steady trying to pick of at least one guy on every corner. And by three quarters lap Bill Elliston and I were again chasing down Richard Feldman and Andrew Messer. Feldman was gone but after a hard chase we finally got Messer back who was riding crazy strong.

My plan was basically to ride smooth and steady hoping I'd win the war of attrition and come out on top. Soon enough Andrew bobbled a corner and slid out. That was all Bill and I needed to get away. A lap or so later I felt it was time and I passed Bill on the inside of a corner. Two turns later I heard a foot go down behind me so I punched it out of the next three corners to try and establish a gap. I managed a handful of seconds and tried to build on it. With one lap to go I had worked it up to 8 seconds and all I had to do was keep it smooth.

This first USGP podium couldn't have come at a better time as I was pretty bummed from the day before. Feldman rode away with it and Elliston claimed third. My good result on Sunday meant I also leaped frogged Brian Conant and moved into the 3rd overall in the series.

Matt had a great day in the mud finishing 10th to go 4 better than his previous days 14th. Jay went 27th both days after starting way back, but unfortunately out of the points. Good buddy Nate Woodman scored points on Day 1 in 19th and followed Jay home in 28th on day 2. All the NE crew had good rides. Rafal was 5th in the SS race on Saturday. Troy and Kevin rode awesome in the 45+ category. Noah squeezed into 30th in the 35+ race on Sunday. The Skiba's were there as was Rich Pearson, Vaughn Pierce, Matt Newell and a few others who's names I can't recall.

Things look good for Ft. Collins in two weeks, but first it's the Omaha Weekend. Hometown race, always a good time.

1 comment:

mw said...

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