Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Leading up to these races I wasn't really sure what my goals should be. I had been racing for a few weeks and feeling decent, but hadn't raced against this calibre field yet. As I browsed the start list, I did the ol' "yes, no, no, no, yes, no, no, no, maybe" as to whom I thought I could beat, or had beaten in the past, I didn't come up with that many "yes" answers. I was trying to be realistic, but this field pretty deep, probably the best field I've ever been a part of. French National Champ, Francis Mourey was still hanging around soaking up UCI pts before heading back to Europe, so was former Swiss Champ, Christian Huele, Belgian Tim Van Nuffel and pseudo Belgian Jon Page. After them it was pretty much anybody who's anybody in 'cross filling the grid.
I decided that a top 15 would be a really good ride and a top 20 would be pretty solid too. I was hoping my 33 UCI points from last year would maybe get me into the second row, but in fact, I got number 22, one of the last spots in row 3.
I kicked at my pedal for about 30 seconds after the gun went off, but somehow managed to not lose too much ground. I slithered though the first few corners with my elbows out, pin-balling my way forward. I noticed I had made good progress because Todd Wells was driving our group and Barry Wicks was on my wheel and a few other quality guys were surrounding me. I knew I had good legs almost immediately because I never felt the need to let off the gas and recover after the initial shock of the intense first lap. I tried not to think about where I was or who was behind or in front of me, but it was hard. I almost crashed in a gravel corner and that helped me refocus on the task at hand. As our group splintered after a few laps, I found myself chasing Troy Wells solo and he was chasing the back of the lead group. Behind I had Barry Wicks and Brian Matter chasing me, not the worst company to be in, for sure.
I dangled in no-mans land for a while, but was picking off guys who had been blown out of the lead group. Two of these huge fish to catch were Ryan Trebon and none other than ol' Frankie Mourey. Trebon was cool to pass and drop, but he obviously wasn't having his best day, but when I caught Mourey, Matter and I were racing pretty hard and I was afraid I would get gapped off of Brian while we were overtaking Mourey. Mourey doesn't speak English, so the thought crossed my mind, "how to I say 'inside' in French?" I obviously didn't know, so I just gave him a nice assertive pass in the corner and he didn't seem to care. I couldn't believe I had just blown by the guy I was watching videos of earlier that week. I thought about retiring on the spot. I tried not to star-gaze, but come on, it's Francis Freaking Mourey!
Anywho, Me, Wicks and Matter raced the last few laps together and couldn't really drop each other. I made a move into the last technical section and was able to put a few bike lengths on those two and hold them off on the run up before the final road section. I wasn't sure how far up I had made it, but I was pretty pumped about the days events. It turns out I was 11th on the day and since it was a C1, that was good for 8 UCI points.
Wow, that was a bit long for just one days recap, so I guess Sunday's recap will be the condensed version... I didn't feel very well at all and didn't do as much slithering through the field at the start, but I still found myself in no-mans-land chasing the front group, with the same guys, plus a few others chasing me. This time I was hurting from being out in the wind so much, when I really didn't have the legs to pull it off. Barry dragged a big train of 5 guys up to me and I tried to get in that group and recover, but that wasn't happening. I got dropped and passed by all 5 of 'em on the run up after a few laps and rode the rest of the race pulling Luke Keough around trying to help him get the U23 jersey. He's a nice kid and couldn't really pull through, so I didn't have a problem dragging him around to help his cause. I ended up in 18th on Sunday, kind of disappointing when compared with the previous day's result, but I would have taken it before the weekend started, so I was fine with it... I guess.
You know you've been driving too much when the 6.5hr drive home from Madison seems short. Looking forward to a local race this weekend, then trying to kill it for the Cincy UCI3 and next round of the USGP in Louisville.
Photos by Caitlin Coar