Late Season Update.

06Dec11

Castle Cross

My first race back since Boulder Cup went fairly well. With most of the team at SSCXWC in San Francisco, it was just Carlos, Tim and I for Gates Carbon Drive. With a long drag up a hill for the start, it was a tough start. Carlos, Steven Oliver and myself rolled off the front and had a gap on the first lap. One of the defining features of the course was a monster mud pit. To clear it without getting off your bike, it took some aggression and speed. The problem was, it was about 38 degrees and the mud pit was full of water, so it was a cold ride every lap.

About to take the plunge into the freezing water:

On the second lap, my teammate Carlos blew past me and made his move going into the mud pit. That was it, he never looked  back. I chased, but he hung at about 30 seconds. Steven Oliver was with me for a while, but then I was off on my own, chasing Carlos holding steady in second.

I was feeling great, although with the sun starting to go down, I was cold. The single speed category goes off at 4 pm, which is tricky since the sun goes down before 5 these days. It’s tough to gauge how to dress and I was COLD! Mostly my hands. I had too light of gloves on and was having a hard time controlling my bike and braking since my fingers were frozen from the repeated moisture from the mud pit.

Final lap through the mud pit!

Photo courtesy of Mountain Flyer Magazine

With about a half lap to go, the third place rider made contact with me. I went into a corner too aggressively and washed out my front wheel. There went second place. Bummer. I was still pumped to be back on the podium for the first time since Frisco!

Next stop on the Colorado Cross Cup was the Westminster City Park CX. A tough mostly grass course with an enormous staircase to climb multiple times. I had a GREAT start taking the holeshot with my teammate Jesse Swift. There was some sort of crash behind us.

Rolling off the front with Steven Oliver and Jesse Swift ahead on the first lap:

With Steven Oliver in tow, we rolled it and had 3 off the front for the first lap. On the second lap, the blistering pace started to get to me. It was even colder than the previous week and my lungs weren’t having it. I dropped back a bit and was sitting fairly comfortably in 4th when I slipped out in a sandy corner and lost contact with the 3 chasers. I was no in no mans land. Luckily, I was able to slog it out for 6th, but it was kind of a rough day. Too fast of a start and a sloppy race resulted in a not so hot ride. I was still happy to be climbing up the Colorado Cross Cup points ladder and was now sitting in 5th overall in the Single Speed Category.

Next up was Cyclo X Louisville. With snow most of the week and very cold temps, I knew it was going to be a memorable race. I wasn’t wrong.

With at least 6 inches of snow on the ground, it was a tough one from the gun. Quite a few of the Gates Carbon Drive riders have mountain bikes with Gates Centertrack, so many of us brought out mountain bikes. I did a warmup lap on mine, but I knew it what I would gain in traction would be lost in weight, so I opted for my Raleigh Hodala single speed cross bike.

The start. It was messy:

The start was tough because instead of having some open area to let the group settle, we went straight into a single lane. The instant bottle neck caused some issues and for the first time this year, I wasn’t in the top 3 for the holeshot, I was more like 8th. I knew with the conditions would take some people out, so I figured I would stay at the front and let it shake out. It was mostly a good tactic. I think had I been in the top 3 or 5 on the first lap, I would have faired better, but my tactic still worked. Without much work, I went from 10th to 5th just by guys crashing themselves out of the race with the icy conditions.

I was feeling good sitting behind Carlos and Jesse when another racer blew past us and cut us off on one of the single track sections. His aggressive move caused me to loose some time. I knew I should have given him an elbow as he tried to pass, but the damage was done. Around the same time, Carlos was overheating, so he dropped out. I was now in 4th chasing Jesse Swift and Joe Saperstein while Scott Upton extended his lead off the front.

Most of the descents were ‘controlled’ chaos:

While I was in striking distance for 2nd or 3rd, the battle for second between Joe and Jesse caused their speed to go up making it tough for me to claw my way to the podium.

I was happy to stay in a solid 4th place throughout the race and finish second on the team and 4th overall.

It was so brutally cold and nasty out there!

Photo courtesy of Moots Cycles

On the run-up toward the end of the race:

This result helped push me up from 5th to 4th overall in the Colorado Cross Cup. With 2 races to go and one of them being State Championships, I’m still feeling confident that I have a win in me this season!

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