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28 October 2008  |  Race Reports

Race Report: USGP #1 & #2: Louisville, KY

I was really looking forward to racing in Louisville after having so much fun at the races in Cincinnati. The Ohio Valley has such a great cycling scene- I was really impressed with everyone’s enthusiasm. I heard there were something like 40 juniors out there racing, and most of them were from the Red Zone team. It was really cool to see so many kids having fun at a bike race!

The racing was held at the same venue as last year, but I thought the course design was a little better this year- it was more compact which made spectating a little easier and more exciting. Each lap had 2 short sand pits, one long sand pit, a set of barriers, a fly-over and a short run-up. Lots of corners to keep you one your toes too. Here’s how it played out:

Saturday was partly cloudy and a little chilly. Katerina and I both had 2nd row call-ups, but the start was still pretty fast and it took us almost a lap to move up to the front of the pack. By the end of lap 1 I think we had whittled the group down to 4 or 5. After a couple more laps it was only me, Katerina and Rachel. It seemed like we had just started racing when I heard the announcer say: “Two laps to go!” Two laps? That’s it? What the heck have I been doing? I attacked and got a gap on the flyover. Katerina and Rachel weren’t too far behind, and coming into the last lap Katerina attacked Rachel and bridged up to me- fast. Uh-oh. I knew it was going to be interesting because Katerina was riding smooth and really strong. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see how interesting it was going to get, because about halfway through the last lap, I swung a little wide on a corner, clipped a pedal on a stake and went down. Luckily, Katerina’s lightening-fast reflexes helped her avoid crashing into me, and she rode around me and was gone. I got up, went to get on my bike, and realized my brake caliper was bent down into my wheel, but I was right at the pit, so I started running with my bike. Dusty was all the way at the far end of the pit, and he started running to meet me with my pit bike. While I was running through the pit, Rachel passed me and as soon as she saw me in the pit, she gunned it. I got on my pit bike and tried to catch Rachel, but with only half a lap to go, I didn’t really have enough time. In any case, I couldn’t be too bummed since it was my own fault that I crashed!

On Sunday, I knew I was going to have the same call-up, and Katerina and I decided the race was short enough that we needed to get to the front right away. We moved up faster than the day before and pushed the pace. by the end of the first lap we had whittled the group down to four: me, Katerina, Rachel and Sue. I went to the front and really tried to up the pace, and eventually Sue popped. Then Rachel popped and Katerina and I took turns at the front so we could open the gap to Rachel. With one lap to go, it was just me and Katerina, and we seemed pretty evenly matched. I was in front, and I tried to stand up and punch it out of every corner, on every climb, through the sand pit, pretty much everywhere I could think to get a little gap. Katerina was right there the whole time. I knew I wanted to be the first over the flyover and the first out onto the pavement, so when Katerina tried to go around me in one of the last corners, I stood up and drilled it. I came out onto the pavement first, but she was right on my wheel, so I stood up and started my sprint there. I held her off, taking the win by less than a bike length. It was a very exciting race, and I wasn’t sure who was going to win until the end. As much as it’s nice to win by a comfortable margin, those closer races really make you dig deep.

The spectators were very enthusiastic and I had a great cheering section: my shirtless-guy-fan-club from last year reappeared on Saturday, there were some vikings (or were they roman soldiers? I just saw helmets and swords…), lots of cowbells and tons of little kids out there hollering too. And then there was SuperFan (a legend in the midwest MTB scene- more on that later).

This weekend, racing is a little closer to home with the Boulder Cup UCI races on Saturday and Sunday. Seems like a lot of the usual suspects will be there, so the racing should be good.


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