The Cyclocross Stage Race Of America Begins!
I say this a little exaggerated. Sure there is a lot of racing over the next 9 days, a mini Kerstperiode (Christmas Cyclocross block of racing), but mostly there is just a lot of travel! Let me walk you through it:
Trek CX Cup
Sunday World Cup
Wednesday World Cup
8 hr Drive
Iowa City, IA
Friday Jingle Cross C1
Saturday Jingle Cross C2
Sunday Jingle Cross World Cup
6 Races in 9 days, 3 of which are world cups! At least in Europe the drives to each race are no more than 2 hrs… but I digress.
Friday afternoon was a C2 race, so not as many points or prize money available but a good chance to shake the travel out of the legs and open up before the World Cup. Only 2 of the Euros that came over for the World Cups decided to participate, Daan Sote and Thijs Aerts. You can catch my race recap to see how that played out.
Long story short. I had an issue at the start. Slipped a pedal, ended up on the top tube, then had to work a bit harder than I wanted to get back towards the front.
The track was fast and lots of grip, which didn’t help my cause. Once, I got to the front the two Euros had decided to make waves and got away. That left the usual North American suspects battling for the last podium spot.
I had to hang on to the Canadian National Champ, Michael Van den Ham, as he powered his way across every open power section. Luckily, he was running the barriers when they were faster to hop so I made my move there and held the small gap through the finish.
Not bad company to stand on the podium with.
Now my only concern was that I dug pretty deep and had to recover as hard as I could so I could hit Sunday’s World Cup ready to keep the throttle wide open again.
Saturday was an off day/ WC course inspection. It was dry and not much to check out. More or less the same course as Friday’s C2 but with a few more technical features making the course worth of the World Cup distinction.
Sunday morning came and with it some rain. At first it wasn’t enough to do anything. The Elite women went off at 12pm and the course was the same as Saturday’s pre-ride. However, as soon as they finished a drizzle started.
This had been happening all morning so no one thought anything of it. I even, boldly, started on Maxxis speed terrane file treads. However, the packed clay on course started to hold some of that surface moisture and by the time the start lights turned from green to red it was like peanut butter on glass in places.
I had a good start and knew I needed to pit for some more tread but I wanted to wait for the groups to thin out so I wouldn’t lose a lot of places when I went in. I think I stuck it out for 1.5 laps before pitting for miss, Maxxis All Terrane. However, within that first half a lap on mid I knew I needed more so another 1.5 laps later I switched to baby limus tires at 1 psi down (front and rear) from my starting pressure of f23/r25.
This was the ticket. I was feeling confident and making moves. I found myself solidly in a group for 13th. The 4 of us battled all race, someone would go away then come back after making a mistake. Smooth was fast out there and traction was an under abundant commodity. These are my favorite conditions. Still fast but slick as all hell.
It came down to the last lap and making a move into the last feature. The Swiss national champ punched it over the barriers. I followed, was passed by Thijs Aerts, then had to pass him back before the Factory Hill off camber. I rode it clean and smooth, unable to catch the Swiss champ, but good enough to distance Thijs and rode it in for P14. My best World Cup finish to date.
Next is the Fayetteville World Cup this Wednesday. Interestingly enough some of the euros decided not to make this transfer from WI to AR so who knows, maybe I can best P14. I will say I am excited already because they are calling for rain.