Tim & Ken working together
Landing at the USGP's in the Boulder Valley over the weekend, I sensed a great atmosphere, unique to those special events. And as I searched around for registration, there was a energy abound, as other riders buzzed around on their 'cross rigs. I had myself pretty worked up goping into the weekend, high on expecting solid results having won my first two 'cross events on the season and feeling like I had good form, however I would be tested in other ways. Upon picking up my number (80), I went back and dealt with my pre-race routine, and then at stagging, I learned it would be staged in numerical order...huh? Lets see, there are approx 110 riders, and I am #80... The Xilinx course was fast, really fast, and the start was narrow, so heading inot the woods on the first lap, I was in, oh about 80th position. But I went to work try to move up, and as I went through the last hairpin before the finishing straight, I heard the leaders being clalled through the finish and into turn one, which was several hundred meters down track from where I was.
Pressing on, I kept picking them off, but I had no idea where I was. Nat Ross had his PA cranking out there and lap after lap kept calling my number as I went through the woods, firing people up on the fact I was doing this on my single speed 'cross bike and the crowds cheered me on by name and as the single speeder. With about three laps to go, I cramped really bad in my side and gut, making it virtually impossible to breathe, let alone keep the pace up. A couple of riders I had passed, slipped back by as I sloed up until the pains subsided. With one lap to go, I made a last lap surge to try to catch one more person, knowing that the top 20 get called up the next day, I was 25th. Afterwards I vented to Sandi and friend about how I felt like I was hung out there on the road sections where the geared set were clearly faster but would not pull through, and of course my cramps. I was frustrated. I was very happy for Tim to have won, and knew he would fair well as he had good form coming into this weekend.
After a good nights rest, and a calmer morning, I had a bit more inner-peace, knowing it would be difficult to start from my 78th position on the day, and make into the top 20, but I was going to make a go of it. From the start, I had a better shot up the long, wide pave' hill into the keyhole around the top of the course, where my good friend Dan @ Mavic pinted an outside line out to me earlier requiring a bunny-hop over the curb on the grass, and it worked passing a number of unexpecting racers. Then there was a crash going through the off-camber chicane. I made it around the strewn bodies, and then came another pile up in the next hairpin. Once again I was clear. The lead 30 riders had a gap on our group which I was leading the charge of, and soon I was in-between theg roups, making the leap over. A lap or two later, I saw a familiar green skinsuit,Tim was moving backwards. I gave a quick pat on the hip, and motioned for him to jump on. We picked off a couple other riders getting him moving in the irght direction again, and eventually formed a small chase group. Tim, the other riders & I took pulls, as the announcers gave the play-by-play of Tim & I giving chace. Eventually Tim had a small accelleration and I sat up, letting the other chase if they could. They did, I followed them back to Tim and we were all back together. I felt really comfortable on this course in comparrison to the day prior, smooth and fast, I was in a zone. Knowing I was the strongest in the group on the steep grassy climb, on the next to last lap, I went for it. Attacking the climb, they others were quickly dropped with Tim returning the gesture of not working to bring me back, and I rode away. Hearing the bell, I never let up for the round until the finish, 20th place. While this was not a big improvement on the day prior, I found resolve in this result, because despite the challenges, I rode a strong, intelligent race, not letting any negative energy creep in. While on paper a 25th and 20th were not what I was looking for, I am none the less stoked on my rides, and had a blast taken part in these events. Afterwards, Dave & Richard Vries gave me an honorary "Most Aggressive" ride having came through the pack to get a top 20 over the PA, which was also gratifying.
There were a lot of sweet IF's floating around over the weekend, but I don't think many more bikes garnered more attention than mine. People were constantly commenting on it, asking questions and taking photos of it. I have to say, I am very gratefull I get to ride it, and love how it performs!
Next time, I will take part in more races prior to one of these USGP's, and pre-register for a better starting position, still holding the belief I can and will run up front at one of these races. Until then, there is always next weekend in Durango.