16 December 2010  |  Race Reports

USGP Finals: Portland

In keeping with my recent tradition of posting race reports several weeks after the races and LONG after everyone has ceased caring… here is my official race report from Portland:

Everyone always expects the Portland races to be epic and muddy and what some would call “real” ‘cross races. While I don’t think every ‘cross race needs to be muddy, there is something kind of enjoyable about racing in a cold, soupy mess in the middle of a hurricane (December ’07 anyone?).  But that was not to be: the forecast for the weekend was sun and wind and -gasp- no rain. However, I think it had been raining all week and the course was pretty greasy with a few really boggy sections.

Saturday: I got a great start, but coming into the sweeping turn off the pavement, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a large plastic trashcan rolling onto the course.

I narrowly avoided it, but heard something happen behind me- it didn’t sound good.  Pretty sketchy.  After the first few turns I had made it to the front of the race, and I just focused on being smooth and fast.

Leading Katerina Nash. Photo: Colin Meagher

Leading Katerina Nash. Photo: Colin Meagher

Katerina was on my wheel, and about halfway through the lap we had a gap on the rest of the field.  We took turns at the front, testing each other out, and it was clearly going to be a good battle.  I was feeling great, riding well, and I could tell there were a few sections where I was able to get a gap, but I didn’t want to make a move too early.

Coming through the start/finish at the end of the second lap, I was having trouble shifting and looked down to see some kind of crap stuck in my cassette (course tape? bark?) about half of my gears wouldn’t work, and before I knew it, Katerina had a gap.  I found a huge gear that was usable, and mashed my way around the course until I made it to the pit and got a fresh bike.  By now Katerina had a good 15 seconds or so, and I don’t think she was too keen on me catching back up.  She was drilling it, and I had to bury myself to make it back up to her wheel.  As soon as I caught up, she tried a few attacks, but I was able to cover them and stay with her.  Then, as we were coming out of the BMX track, I went around her and put in a big effort, hoping to hold her off through the next few corners.  Almost.  In the second-to-last corner, I went wide and she came around on the inside.  I was right there behind her as we went over the barriers (about 100m from the finish), but I just didn’t have time to come around.  I was frustrated- I had great legs and was riding really well in the greasy stuff, but coming back after the mechanical had cooked me, and I didn’t have enough in the tank on the last lap.  I was fired up for Sunday.

Sunday: After a little bad luck the day before, I was ready to lay it on the line on Sunday.  I had another good start, but I settled in a little early, and pretty soon I was back in 10th or so watching Katerina open it up on the front.  After a few sketchy passes (sorry for chopping you in that corner, Sue…) I had made it to the front and was riding behind Katerina and Amy.  The course had dried out a ton and a lot of the greasy corners were downright tacky.  Unfortunately, I was riding a lot worse.  Especially in the super tight 180s.  I just could not get out of my own way.  After riding for a few laps behind Katerina, I crashed (well, “tipped over while going really slow” is probably a more accurate description), and a small gap opened up.  Katerina wasn’t going to let a perfectly good gap go to waste, so she started drilling it, and I just could not close it down.  Amy had popped off my wheel, so I just rode around by myself for the rest of the race.  Not exactly the exciting battle I was hoping for.

2010 USGP series podium: Meredith Miller (2nd), Me (1st), Katerina Nash (3rd). Photo: Colin Meagher

2010 USGP series podium: Meredith Miller (2nd), Me (1st), Katerina Nash (3rd). Photo: Colin Meagher

I did manage to win the USGP overall — which was one of my goals — but at the same time it felt like more of an attendance award than a real win because there were lots of strong riders that didn’t make it to all the USGPs (Katerina, Sue, Katie, Amy, Nicole).  So while I am happy that I won, it wasn’t as sweet as winning in 2007.  There’s always next year, though, and hopefully no conflicts with world cups.

Thanks again to Joan, Bruce and the whole USGP crew for putting on a great series!  I’m already looking forward to next year.


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