Thursday, October 27, 2011

Flatwater Twilight Series #4

Men's A Podium with Jared and Nate
Photo: John Peterson
I knew it was going to be a tall order, beating Nate that is. The uber tight and twisty course was tailor made for Nate's skills. The final night of the Flatwater Twilight Cyclocross Series was pretty straight forward. I'd gotten really lucky the week before when both Matt Tillinghast and then Nate Woodman flatted. It basically gifted me the win, I knew I couldn't count on that happening again. Nate was putting time on me in three spots. The barriers, he was hopping them as I ran them. The holeshot, I lost about 5 seconds there which was nearly impossible to make up. The tight corners, with home track advantage I didn't have a pray at cornering as fast as him. I knew I could limit my loses in two of the areas, the barriers and the start. The goal was simple, get there early enough to practice jumping the barriers and hope for a good start. The first would be significantly easier than the later.

The Trek Omaha crew loaded up for week two minus Bryan and Jordan but this time with Miah who was going to do his first 'cross race after missing out on the Omaha CX weekend. We arrived with a good hour plus before the start, numbers pinned on and ready to go. I went straight to the barriers to get my jump on. I don't know what I was thinking the week before, the 10" barriers were pretty easy to clear. A few bobbles at first but I quickly had the technique dialed. The start wouldn't be quite as easy. I arrived late to the call up and what I thought would be a front row start position based on last weeks win turned into a third row position as they based it on overall points standings for the series. I wasn't too happy about that.

At the whistle though I got away clean and slotted in behind Jim Winklepleck, Nate, Jay Thomas, Jared Berger, Tyler Carmichael and Troy Krause. Luckily for us, Nate didn't get the hole shot. I got by Troy in one of the few open sections and then Jim as he was falling back after his quick start. The first time through the barriers I jumped them clean and made it past Tyler as he was remounting. From that point it was a four man train led by Nate with Jay, Jared and myself in tow.

Nate was smooth over the barriers all night
Photo: John Peterson
Nate's pace was pretty hot. For the first four laps, Jay and I were playing the waiting game hoping that Matt would came up to the front after a poor start, but his gap up to us was remaining pretty constant. The day changed when I saw him fall in a corner behind us. The next time through the barriers it was apparent the pace was taking it's toll as Jay waved my through to get on Nate's wheel. From that point on, Nate and I would slowly open up the gap on the two chasers.

Photo: John Peterson
After following Nate for a few more laps I knew I had my work cut out for me. He was way faster than me on 90% of the course. My only hope was to try and wear him down on the 10% where I could really push the pace. I went to front and began drilling it on the start/finish straightaway after the barriers and on the short climb on the backside. I had him on the ropes a couple times as I could hear his labored breathing but the elastic wouldn't break as he had plenty of recovery time in the tight twisty corners that made up his 90% of the course.

Photo: John Peterson
With two laps to go I knew it was going to come down to a sprint, with the winner most likely being the first guy over the barriers. I eased off the pace a bit and with half a lap to go started to ramp it up to defend the lead after the corners and maintain my position. As we came out of the last left hander, Nate jumped me and as we hit the barriers we both bobbled on them as our depth perception was reduced in the near dark conditions. Nate came through the barriers with two bike lengths on me and it was two much of a gap to close down. Nate took a hard fought and deserved win. I can only imagine that this is how the previous week would have probably played out had Nate not flatted, it was an awesome battle. I hope it was as exciting to watch as it was to race.

Next week the racing resumes in Omaha with the Trek Omaha Twilight Series at Seymour Smith park. I really hope we get as good a turnout as they've had in Lincoln. The course is a gem.

No comments: