Thursday, January 12, 2012

Championship Week: Qualifying Day

After a stellar weekend in Wisconsin I hit the road Monday morning and headed south to Louisville, KY for the first ever outside of europe UCI Masters World Championships. It's pretty crazy to think that in the history of cyclocross there's never been a World Championship held outside of europe. Yet here we are on the eve of USA Cycling history.

Tuesday I headed to the course to do a little course recon and help with some lap time runs and course modification. The track was perfect but the forecast was for rain and we got it. Overnight rain and on and off showers turned the perfect track into a perfect muddy track. There's just something about the courses at Eva Bandman park that I just love, wet or dry.

The weekend started off perfect when I drew number 101, first rider called to the line for my qualifying heat. I settled into second wheel after the whistle behind 1997 Elite National Champion Mark McCormack. As we took to the grass Mark broke left I broke right as we each hugged the course tape on opposite sides. My right line was faster and I got to the opening sand pit first.

Shortly after, Richard Feldman took the lead and began pulling away. Strategy for the heat race was unusual. You basically only want to go as hard as you have to. In this case with only two heat races, that "have to" was top 4 to assure and front row start position for the final.

Pete Webber, McCormack, Maurice Gumanho and myself swapped positions multiple times leading into the run section. McCormack gave riding it a try while I stuck to running. I was able to put some time on the other guys and solidified 3rd. Up front Webber and Feldman were riding away from us but like I said, I only wanted to go as hard as I needed. A third place would give me 5th or 6th call up to a row of 8 wide. Perfect.

I rolled across the line 45 seconds behind Webber and Feldman, and 20 seconds in front of McCormack. I still can't believe I'm even racing against these guys. Between Pete and Mark they have a combined 6 Elite National Cyclocross Championship medals between them.

After I got all cleaned up the weather really started to change. Within a couple of hours the temperature dropped 20 degrees and the snow began to fall. Tonights low will be about 19 with highs just around freezing the next 2 days. Mud, freezing water, mud, and cyclocross, and mud...a match made in heaven.

Photo: Kay Ohta
Photo: Kay Ohta

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