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23 October 2012  |  Misc

USGP #3 & #4 Fort Collins, CO: Race Report

As if I wasn’t bad enough with providing timely race reports…Seems like in the off-season things are just slipping a little.

After the first weekend of USGP racing, I took 2 weeks off the bike. This coincided perfectly with a trip back east to my brother’s wedding, and it was nice to not worry about traveling with a bike or getting a training ride in. The wedding was beautiful, and it was great to visit with family members I don’t get to see enough of during the race season. A week passed pretty quickly and before I knew it I was headed back to Colorado.

When I got home the weather had turned cold. I busied myself with winterizing our house: turning on the heat, unhooking the hoses and irrigation, picking all the green tomatoes before the frost got them, etc. Fortunately it was only a 2 day cold snap, and soon the temperatures were back to the high 60s, and the sun was out. The beautiful fall weather I love had returned, and I was able to get a couple days in on the bike before the USGP weekend.

Since the USGP has been coming to Fort Collins, it seems that every year there is one rainy, muddy day and one dry, fast. sunny day. This year would be no different. For the week leading up to the race it seemed like we would for once have a completely sunny, rain-free weekend. The course was very dry, even loose in places. But by Friday the weather started moving in. Saturday morning was rainy and cold. I sat in my house and looked outside at the rain blowing sideways. I had been planning on riding the 7 miles down to the venue. “Yeah, it’ll probably pass in a few minutes…” Even I was skeptical of my own optimism, but apparently not THAT skeptical- I decided to ride down to the venue. I was convinced that if I drove the rain would immediately stop, and I would feel like a jerk. Well, the rain didn’t stop, I got completely soaked and cold on the ride over, and I STILL felt like a jerk. I just can’t win…

I arrived at the venue a couple of hours before my race start, and headed out for a quick pre-ride. The course was muddy and slick in places, but it had stopped raining, and I knew it would dry out fast. I headed to the LUNA tent, made an espresso and sat on the trainer for awhile to warm-up.

Doing some smack-talking before the race.

Since the UCI points aren’t updated until after the first World Cup, I was still starting on the second row, so I lined up behind Teal and told her “Don’t screw this up! No pressure…”. Luckily, she took my sage advice. We both had great starts and were in the top 5 through the first few corners. The course was still a little bit greasy in spots, but it was drying out fast and traction was good. About halfway through the lap Katie went to the front, and I went with her- I was determined to stay on her wheel as long as possible. She was keeping the pace high and riding fast and smooth in the corners. I hung in there for a bout a lap and a half, but race pace was feeling a little painful, and I was definitely not as comfortable railing around corners on my ‘cross bike. A gap opened up, and I had to just settle for riding my own pace. The rest of the rest was pretty boring- Katie won, I finished second and Teal got third (which was awesome, not boring).

John’s making sure I’m not slacking. Thanks, buddy.

The next day the course was completely dry, hard-packed and fast. I had an OK start, but the faster conditions allowed a bigger group to stay together at the start. I was at the back of this big group, and I didn’t like it. As we came through the start-finish after one lap, I went to the front and set a good hard tempo in the  hopes of  paring the group down. After pushing the pace for a full lap, I had indeed shed a few riders, and as we came through the start-finish Katie launched a huge attack. No one went with her, and I was already tapped. Turns out I am a great lead-out rider…you’re welcome, Katie.

I didn’t have the legs to chase her down, so I settled in to my own pace. Julie was right on my wheel, and I pushed hard in a few sections to see where I was stronger. We were pretty evenly matched, and I was a little nervous about letting it come down to a sprint- I’d already screwed up tactically ONCE in the race. I decided to sit on Julie’s wheel for a lap, see how she was riding and then attack early in the last lap (you know, to give myself more options in case THAT attack failed). I was able to rest a little bit while sitting behind Julie, and I put in a big attack early in the last lap. She closed it down, but I kept punching it out of every corner, and eventually I got the gap I was looking for. I came through for 2nd, with Julie a few seconds behind me in 3rd.

The start of my lead-out for Katie’s attack. I’m smart!

I was satisfied with my weekend- I obviously would have liked to be challenging for the win, but that wasn’t very realistic given my recent time-off. Fort Collins fans were out in force- thanks to everyone who showed up and cheered/heckled or rang a bell- we racers really appreciate it!

 


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