24 October 2011 | Race Reports
USGP #3, #4: Fort Collins, CO Race Report
Since my next race is coming up in a few days, I figure now is the time to post the report of my last race…
I have top say, it’s pretty awesome to have a big race right in your hometown. After the huge success of the New Belgium Cup last year, I was looking forward to the race this year. I knew there would be a great turn-out, and all the heavy-hitters would be there duking it out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t riding at the level I hoped to be riding at. After heading straight into ‘cross season after a crappy August, I was still pretty run-down. I wasn’t feeling good enough to get quality training in, so I was just kind of coasting along on whatever fitness I had retained from MTB season. And when the US ‘cross racing scene is as competitive as it is these days, “just coasting along” isn’t going to cut it. I accepted that; I would rather race and not be 100% than not race at all- especially when it’s a home-town race! I knew I wasn’t going to be able to mount a serious challenge to Katerina or Katie, but I hoped I would at least be able to make the race exciting.
Day 1. Despite the beautiful, sunny, warm weather we had experienced all week (and were due to experience the following week), Saturday was cold and rainy. In just a few hours the race course turned from dry, loose and bumpy into a muddy, slippery mess, but after pre-riding I felt pretty comfortable on my bike, and I looked forward to the race. I had a decent start and was in the lead group until about halfway through the first lap. Katerina dabbed in a tight hairpin, and I was forced to put a foot down (actually I managed to step into my front wheel, heard a crack, and figured I had broken a spoke). I jumped back on my bike, but Katerina and Katie already had a small gap. We were close to the pit, and even though my wheel seemed fine I thought it would be a good idea to get a new bike, so I headed to the pit for a bike change. I lost a few spots while I was in the pit, but I was able to catch back up to the small chase group and rode with them for the rest of the lap. Coming through the start/finish Mical put in an attack, and I jumped on her wheel. We rode together for about half a lap, but I could tell I was riding a little faster, so I went around thinking I might be able to close down the gap to the leaders. Unfortunately, the leaders weren’t even in sight anymore….Oh well. So I rode around by myself for the rest of the race, with Katerina and Katie WAY ahead of me and Mical behind me. The crowd was pretty fantastic: it was raining and 40 degrees out, and only the most hard-core spectators showed up to watch. But they sure made their voices heard! Thanks to everyone who came out and hollered at me. I did everything I could, but 3rd place was all I could manage. I was feeling pretty good and riding well, so I hoped for good things the next day.
Day 2. The sun came out, the mud dried up, and the course was hard and fast by the afternoon. I missed my pedal at the start, and was immediately out of the top-10. I couldn’t believe how fast everyone started, I was really not prepared for that (why would I be prepared for a fast start in a cross race……..?). I didn’t have the jump to make it up to the front group, so I just settled in and tried to keep a steady pace. After a few laps, people in front of me started cracking, and I was picking them off (slowly) one by one. I was just about to make contact with the chase group when I went over the barriers, jumped on my bike and realized that my chain was all balled up. I got off, and tried to pull it out from between the front chainring and the frame, but it was wedged in there pretty good. People were passing me as I stood there and tried desperately to get it out, but to no avail. A spectator finally suggested that I just run to the pit, but as soon as I started to run I realized just how FAR it was to the pit. I stopped and tried again to pull the chain out, but no luck. I started running while one by one more racers flew by. When I finally got a new bike I figured I would probably be able to make up a bunch of places. Boy, was I wrong! The course was so fast and the field was so spread out that I only made up a few spots in those last laps. It was hard. Lots of pedaling and virtually no rest. I finished 13th.