Coming off the two world cups I was feeling good about my form and looking forward to battling at the front of the race rather than hanging on to the wheels of Euro cross bosses.
Doug and I made the 5hr drive from my parent’s house in southeastern Pa to Thompson, CT where we had an Airbnb on Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. This was less than five miles from the venue, which was super convenient, Doug went searching for fitness and ran to the course one day.
Friday was race day, which is unusual. We typically race Saturday and Sunday but for some reason the promoters saw it necessary to schedule the weekend like so. The course was pretty similar to last year except 200% drier and dustier, more rock and stone exposure, and much more pavement.
We kicked off at 6:30pm and I found myself in a good spot. Tobin and I had a bit of a gap on the rest of the field, nothing super substantial but enough that if we worked together we could have stayed away for a few laps. We came through the half lap and to our surprise, an official was crossing the course. He was looking at his clipboard heading form the start grid to the pit zone and was oblivious to the rapidly decreasing distance between Tobin and him, until Tobin yelled out. He did some stutter stepping then pulled deer in the headlights and stood there. Tobin managed to sneak through to his right. I barreled right for him and landed a direct hit. He went down and I simply unclipped and went on my way, though our hopes of staying away were demolished. (All is well. He apologized and we both agreed that it was good he or I didn’t get hurt, or my bike was fine, and it the grand scheme of things it didn’t affect the race.) I am excited to see the crash highlight video.
We settled into the group and started playing the games. No matter who went to the front it resulted in the same thing, coming back together.
It came down to the last lap and a group of six of us went to the line together. Tobin, Jack K, Spencer Petrov, and Hyde were in front of me and they lulled for a split second before a decisive set of corners leading to the finish. I should have jumped but I didn’t, Tobin did and lead it to the line. I rolled in for 5th.
Saturday was a rest day. I participated in leading out the gran fondo and got my ride in early so I had the rest of the day to relax and mess around on the lake at the Airbnb. I got out for a little cruise on the Kayak then Doug and I took the paddle boat out. Naps were had and Netflix was watched before calling it a night.
Sunday we raced at 4pm but arrived at the venue around 12 to get on the course and scope out any changes/ dial in pressures, etc. I decided to run a little higher tire pressure because of all the rocks and bumps. I didn’t want to flat and there was plenty of traction on course so there wasn’t a down side to running a little more. Better safe than sorry.
The gun went and once again, due to the long start on the race track oval, mid pack riders swelled to the front mixing in with the top 10. This is often frustrating because it is only a matter of time before the pin on the grenade is pulled and they are going backwards, usually opening gaps and sometimes leaving crashes in their wake.
By mid race there was a group of 8 of us all doing our darndest to get away, to no avail. It came down to the last lap. Stephen jumped and Tobin set on his wheel. I managed to find myself in the wrong place at the wrong time and was left clinging on to the chase group about 5 sec back.
I came into the final corners and barriers in 3rd place leading Curtis White. I hopped the barriers and he ran giving me a bit of a gap. He shut it down by the time we u-turned into the finish straight and we went to the line together. He managed to nip me with a bike through and squash my hopes of a podium by a tire knob.
Coming out of the weekend I wanted more, but I am not too broken up about my results. I currently sit 3rd in the US Cup CX overall and while Charm City doesn’t look like it will be any wetter than KMC there is a hill and sand pit to help break things up. As coach Jim Lehman laments, “You have to be able to perform in all conditions, under all kinds of circumstances.” Therefore, while I favor some mud and grit and a less tactical race, I’ll have to make due and figure out a recipe for success to take McTubbin down.