19 November 2008 | Race Reports
MUDDY: USGP #3 & #4- Princeton, NJ
It was rainy and humid when I arrived in Baltimore on Thursday. Waldek, Dusty, Katerina and I stayed at Mom and Bo’s Thursday night and headed up to New Jersey the next day. It continued raining, and when we arrived at the course it was a little bit greasy, and the sand pit was like quicksand soup.
It was pretty clear that it was going to be a muddy race. I just didn’t know HOW muddy it was going to be. When we arrived at the venue on Saturday, we watched the amateur racers running around the course with their bikes on their shoulders. The course was thick, peanut butter mud from tape to tape and many of the false flat “climbs” had become almost unrideable. “I’ve been running a bunch this fall,” I thought, “this won’t be a problem at all.” I would regret thinking that almost as soon as I started the race…
I got the hole-shot and led going into the first few corners. I got off and ran the first really muddy section and ended up getting a little bit of a gap with Katerina right on my wheel. We rode/ran together for the first lap, but during the second lap, i made a couple of mistakes, and Katerina instantly had 10 seconds on me. She was riding a lot more of the thick, muddy sections, and I was running more. She was faster in some of the tighter sections, but I was reeling her in on the longer straightaways. Towards the end of the last lap (the course was so slow we only did 3 laps) I caught up to her before on of the muddy false-flat climbs. She had put time on me by riding this section in previous laps, so I decided to try to ride it. When I saw her get off to run, I knew that was my chance and I put in one huge effort, rode by her and gained a little gap that I was able to hold onto until the finish. It was a hard race, but it was exciting too: I think we were pretty evenly matched, and the race could have just as easily gone the other way.
Later that night, we had more rain. I wasn’t sure if that would make the course more or less rideable, but that became clear when we arrived at the venue the next day and saw racers running some of the gentle downhill sections because the mud was so thick.
Katerina and I didn’t even pre-ride the whole lap, we rode most of the course on the outside of the tape so that we wouldn’t destroy our bikes before the race. Neither of us had a very good start, and I went into the first corner in 7th or 8th with Katerina a few places in front of me. As soon as we came to the first running section, we were able to move up to the front and put a little gap on the rest of the field. We rode together for the first lap, but on the second lap I noticed that I had a little advantage on the running sections. I put in a hard effort and was able to gap Katerina a bit. She chased back to my wheel, but I attacked in the same spot and gained enough of a gap to hold on for the win.
The conditions both days were pretty sloppy, and Dusty and Waldek did a great job supporting us. We were both taking bikes 2 times a lap, and the line was so long for the pressure-washer that they were just running over to the lake and dunking them in! Having good support makes all the difference in those races, and we were lucky to have those guys.