Snowy Sweep At Hendo NCGP

My excitement started peaking on Thursday when I saw weather reports calling for snow! Little did I know what we were in for… With that said I figured I would stir the pot and get other people excited for the coming battle. Tristan put up a win last year and lives in Hendersonville, so he took on “people’s champ” status. (I made this boxing spoof stats flyer)

Kerm and I left for Hendo at 10am. It took us 4hrs to drive the normal 2hr drive due to some adverse weather conditions. This is what the parking lot looked like upon arrival.

Needless to say we were happy to be parked for the weekend, though I was worried. Looking across the park at the taped course revealed a constant 10’’ blanket of snow. So much for a preride… I was curious how racing in the stuff was going to be considering we can’t use bigger than 33c tires. I was happy not to be going off at 8:30 on Saturday morning but thankful to those brave and dedicated souls for busting the crust.

The snow kept up all night and we woke up Saturday morning to winter in full effect. Collegiate racers towed the line at 8:30am and were probably better off racing with flats and tennis shoes with Yaktrax than cycling shoes with clips.

We got on course for preside at 11:40am, which by then, a considerable amount of snow had melted and been turned to slush by rotating tires. Eric Thompson and I got out for a pre ride and we were both filled with excitement, the kind that school children get in anticipation for Santa’s arrival.

The women went off at 1:20 and we followed after at 2:30. (Emily got 3rd, her first UCI podium appearance in a long time!)

I got a good start and found myself sitting on Tristan Cowie’s wheel. Though, once we veered off the start straight pavement I was taking direct spray to the face and wanted to get to the front where I could see enough to pick my own line. I was running Donnelly PDX front and rear at 19/21, which was perfect. There weren’t rocks or roots to hit and low pressure was hooking up while allowing the PDX tread to clear marvelously.

PC Heather Angel

A group of 4 of us traded places at the front of the race the first 3 laps. Eric Thompson, Cooper Willsey, Tristan Cowie, and I were testing out each other’s lines and putting the screws to each other to find the chinks in the armor.

I managed to create some space and gap Tristan but Cooper and Eric where still breathing down my neck. With 3 laps to go, I found some space and put my head down, but focused more on being smooth than relentlessly putting effort into the pedals. Being consistent and upright was crucial not just to maintaining my gap but also keeping me in a good comfortable mental state.

PC Heather Angel

I stayed out front through the final laps listening to the announcer talk about the battle going down between Eric and Cooper for second, happy that I only had to battle with myself.

Podium time!

PC Heather Angel

Sunday we woke up to sub-freezing conditions. The course was a gnarled mess of frozen ruts from yesterdays racing.

The main line from yesterday was now untouchable unless you fancied being jarred and bucked around or risking a flat. Crossing Saturday’s race line was like crossing a rock garden. Sunday’s lines were either two feet to the left or right of Saturday’s. All the insides were then outsides and outsides were insides.

Again the official dropped the flag at 2:30 and I took to Tristan’s wheel again, who has had some pretty stellar starts lately. I don’t know how he gets clipped in that fast…

A group of 3 formed quickly at the front and we set to testing each other out. Eric upped the pace on an off camber on the backside of the course, which broke us free of Tristan. Then Eric and I took turns throwing punches at each other while trying to hold off Tristan and two other chasers.

We were working together, looking forward to an end of the race battle. However, Eric bobbled coming into 2 laps to go, which allowed me a little bit of daylight. I took the opportunity to put my head down and make a more concrete gap.

PC Heather Angel

With the ruts constantly changing and fear of an unpredictable mechanical I was grateful to get some space just in case. I grew the gap and stayed consistent, pitting once a lap the last 3 laps just to make sure. Kerm was holding down pit duties just fine and stepping up to the plate in the wake of Doug’s absence.

PC Zeb King

I came into the weekend really looking forward to the sweep after missing out on a win last weekend in Tulsa. While I am not originally from NC I do call it home now and a lot of the cycling community here see me as a local racer so I was ecstatic to take both wins at my “home “ race.

It’s always nice when you can rub bows between the tape but share special moments out of the saddle. For instance, smore’s to warm our bones while waiting for podium. (I don’t know what I am doing with my hands…)

PC Heather Angel

Huge shout out to Tim Hopkins, NCCX and Hendersonville NCGP promoter, for keeping things together this weekend. Turn out may not have been as high as it could have been because of the weather but Tim and his crew did an amazing job at making sure the weekend ran smoothly. They battled lots of snow, pressure washer rental company bailing on the weekend, got more pressure washers, which then froze, constant course retapping, lots of snow shoveling, etc. Hats off.

Now its 4 weekends off before nationals. I plan on supplementing in some local NCCX racing, training with the boys, and enjoying the holidays. Until then, cheers!

P.S. Stay tuned for new rider cards coming out!