Monday, November 7, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Last week was a bit busy as I returned to weekend racing. There were some ups, there was downs, but I came through in pretty decent shape. Wednesday night was the kick off for our Trek Omaha Twilight Cyclocross Series followed by a weekend of racing in Shawnee, KS with the 360 Cup and Boulevard Cup. All three races were brand new cyclocross venues never raced at before. The five days would see a huge swing in the weather as we went from snow and rain racing in thermal skinsuits and leg warmers to beaming sunshine and warmth racing in short sleeves and dripping sweat.

Five days, three races...

Photo: Rich Pearson
Ugly...that's about the best way to sum up the first race of the Trek Omaha Twilight Series. Morning rains turned to heavy snow and falling temps. Luckily for us, it eased up just in time for course setup and racing under the lights. The down side was that there was tons of ice cold standing water all over the course. You wanted a real cross race? Be careful what you ask for!

I was a little worried about how well I'd race after spending 3 hours helping set up the course. But, I kind of got a warm-up in and squeezed my way onto the front row. At the whistle I grabbed the holeshot and never looked back. Nate Woodman and I had a small gap and as we jumped the barriers we extended it even further. Soon after I lost Nate on one of the power straightaways and just kept powering. I was expecting a long day of cat and mouse but on the third lap the chasers, Lucas Marshall and Matt Tillinghast went down in a corner and from that point my lead was pretty stable. I kept the pressure on to take my third win in Omaha this season.

Off to Kansas City...

Things would be a bit a tougher in KC. Joe Schmalz, Shadd Smith, Andrew Coe, and Adam Mills would be the guys I'd have to battle with. Add in Jeff Winkler who was back from his travels and Colton Jarisch and the weekend was shaping up to be a battle.

Baby Barriers
Photo: Bantam700
Saturday couldn't have gone much worse. I got a miserable start and then got held up by Shadd Smith who rolled a tire in the first difficult corner. That little bobble had me working really hard to get back up to Schmalz's wheel. by the top of the climb which ended with a technical dip and steep up I practically folded my front tire off the rim. I didn't think of it much at the time but two laps later something definitely didn't feel right. I rolled into the pits and grabbed my B bike. This move let Andrew Coe get away from me. Problem was I went from having a tire which was too soft to one that was too hard. I was fighting the bike all day, I just couldn't find the flow. Eventually Adam Mills came up to me, we battled for a few laps but he eventually rode away. By the time Winkler came up to me I was done. I was reserved to a 5th place finish, the final pay spot, saving energy for the next day.

Sundays course was a bit more my style. Flatter, more technical but still favored big engine road power. The day couldn't have gone more different than the previous day. I got a great start behind Joe and Colton. Passed Colton through the barriers and tried to hold Joe's wheel. That lasted about a lap until I realized I wasn't going to be able to ride Joe's pace on the extended straightaways. Soon, Colton and I were back together but a four man chase group was hunting us down. Eventually that group split and it was just Winkler chasing. Colton and I started working together and reversed the advantage that Winkler was taking.

Photo: Roger Harrison
Photo: Roger Harrison

Photo: Bantam700

Photo: Bantam700

Photo: Bantam700
At this point Colton and I had it down, each of us pulled through the sections of the course that favored our style. The only problem was Colton's section included the sand pit. I was nervous that if he made a bobble I'd hit him and go down. Sure enough, with 3 laps remaining, he made a small mistake at the end of the sand, I bounced off his dropout, put a foot down and he attacked on the exit. I brought him back a quarter lap later but by that point he had recovered enough to attack again. Over the next two laps the gap would yo-yo between 5 and 12 seconds. I would roll in for another top three finish.

The Nebraska crew pretty much kicked butt all week. GB Nate rode great on Saturday, Rafal won the SS race and more. Next up, USGP Derby City Cup!

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