Any doubts I had about the course were quickly set aside as it was far better than expected. The greasy freeze thaw conditions would play to my liking which would only leave the fitness question unanswered. On our AM pre-ride the legs felt good and after talking to Bill Elliston and Michael Wissink it seemed like everyone indulged their fair share over the holidays so we were probably all in the same boat.
Saturday morning came quick and the conditions were going to play a huge part. The opening section was a maze of frozen ruts layered with a thin film of partially melted mud. It would favor those who could ride light and transition from rut to rut.
I missed my front row call up as they only called top 7 from the previous year which meant I had to rely on my USAC points. Luckily it meant middle of the 2nd row. I cued up behind Pete Webber, figuring that was the wheel to follow.
At the whistle I missed my pedal and slotted in somewhere around 15. I was really concerned about the opening section so I gave the guys around me plenty of space and let the pin ball game commence. I kept it smooth and straight and came onto the base of the first climb in 8th position. Over the next few laps I would swap positions with Michael Wissink and Brian Hludzinski multiple times. Guys were coming up and falling back. Somehow I managed to not hit the deck once and only had two off course ventures, oddly at the exact same spot on consecutive laps.
|Photo: Josh Stamper|
|Photo: Britany McConnel|
|Photo: Britany McConnel|
|Adam and I tried to keep everyone out of jeans but the other guys didn't have their gear. Adam rocked his sponsors Mountain Khakis, I got the memo too late so full clown (PRO) suit for me.|
Photo: Greg Keller (Mud and Cowbells)
I was surrounded by a solid group of masters. Micheal Robson, Jon Cariveau, Brad Cole and others so I knew I was in a good place. Brad and I had a good thing going as we worked our way into the top 40, 37th I think at one point. As luck would have it though, I guy got between us, bobbled and I lost Brad's wheel. He was gone and I wasn't bringing him back. The Elite race is pretty crazy. The crowds are so intense with people screaming, heckling, whistling, shouting, you were racing through a corridor of noise and it was awesome.
I started to fade on the fourth lap as the heavy course conditions took their toll on my back. Pulled with 3 laps to go I was satisfied. 44th place was a success...wanted to be top 40. But I held my start position so I'll call it even.
|With Jon Cariveau early on|
Photo: Emily Hoesly
Finished off the weekend at the after party and had a great time catching up with super announcer Richard Fries and Boulder brotha Greg Keller. Got to reconnect with Nicole Duke too, which was awesome. Back in the day she drove cross country with us (Manitou) and Hayes. It was a fun trip and I'm amazed how wonderfully small the cycling community is.
Final week of the season now. Masters Worlds, this should be interesting