13 December 2012 | Race Reports
USGP #7, #8 Bend, OR: Race Report
There was lots of talk about how the Bend USGP was going to be sloppy. It was going to be wet. Muddy. Snowy. Cold. A real mess.
Well, that never materialized, and even though the course was a little slippery in a few spots, overall it was fast and there was plenty of traction. It was a little brisk, but I didn’t need to race in the old battery-heated gloves, so you know it wasn’t THAT cold.
The course was similar to years past and included a good mix of power sections, off-camber hillsides, short, steep climbs and high speed corners. Throw in a few slick spots and a short sand pit, and you really had a little bit of everything. The course favored a rider with good handling skills which gave us mountain bikers a bit of an advantage.
Saturday’s race was the first time I’ve had a front-row call-up all season, and I was determined to make it count. I got the hole-shot, and settled into a steady hard pace. The course had enough technical spots that it was crucial to be in the front and be able to choose you own line. Katerina joined me at the front and took the lead about halfway through the first lap. I stayed with her and she led for the next lap, but the pace felt a little slow, and I could tell that Caroline (who was riding in 3rd) was catching us. I went to the front and upped the pace for the next 1.5 laps at which point Katerina attacked and dropped me. Probably not the most savvy race I’ve ever ridden…but solid nonetheless.
So Sunday was Katerina’s birthday, and although I wasn’t planning on giving her any gifts in the race, I thought a cupcake hand-up would be in order. Actually…how about 35 cupcake handups? (It was, after all, her 35th birthday.) With a little help from Chris and Zak, Brook Watts and Dylan Seguin, I managed to make that happen. The cupcake zone was definitely a highlight that day.
After racing a less-than-perfect tactical race on Saturday, I was determined to be smarter on Sunday. Unfortunately, I had a crappy start and had to battle through some mayhem on the first lap. Katerina got to the front early, and by the time I made my way up to second, she had a solid 20 seconds. I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to battle for the win, but another 2nd place was good enough to net me the overall series win.
The USGP series is always a big goal of mine during ‘cross season, and I was happy to win it again in 2012. Of course I would have like to win at least one of the races, but there was some tough competition at all of the races, and being consistently second best isn’t too bad. I actually have a great track record of second place finishes in ‘cross races…
Now I am home for a few weeks to rest, train, move (bought a new house with more room for motorcycles and chickens) and get ready for the next big race: the US National Championships. And while I have amassed quite a few 2nd place finishes at nationals in the past, I’m going to see if I can do myself one better and just win that sucker. That’s the plan at least.