Kerry: After a solid performance at Rochester in the C1 on Saturday, against some of the fastest competition I would face all year, I was looking forward to the next step and taking it to em’ in the World Cup on Saturday.

Jingle Cross has traditionally been a three day event with UCI races on Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. This was all before it was a World Cup. It was also held in the dead of an, often impossibly cold, Iowa winter. I recall one year I went out to the “Fin and Feather”, a local sports store, to shop for wool underwear with wind stopper crotch panel. This way I wouldn’t get frost bite on my man bits. I had heard horror stories from a friend of mine, I shall not name, who experienced this occurrence in Bend and was never the same since.

It has since been bumped up to the end of summer. A scheduling change that has shifted the event from one side of the weather spectrum to the other, sweltering hot and humid AF (potential to use a snorkel while out and about).

Regardless of when this event has been held it has always been my favorite track on the circuit because it has a lot of elevation. It’s about as mountain bikey as a CX course gets. This year was no exception as you climbed up the back side of Mt. Krumpit and zig zagged your way down a steep and slick off camber, all the while seeing red and surrounded by guys with sharp elbows and a taste for American blood (maybe a little dramatic).

I was feeling good on pre ride day and looking forward to pushing my way towards the top 15, that was my goal. I had a second row call up and a great start. I found myself right in the midst of the top 15.

I was surrounded by a few European names I’d recognized as well as my brothers in arms, Curtis White, Stephen Hyde, Gage Hecht, and Lance Haidet. We were all rallying for the first three laps. Everything was going to plan however, just as I was settling in for the battle ahead a switch flipped inside of me and I had to throttle back.

It’s hard to say what caused it, whether it was just too hard of a start and I was too energized to realize how hard I was pushing, the heat and humidity shocking my system into submission, or a lack of being opened up for the effort I had put out off the start line. But I started to go backwards three laps in and there was nothing I could do about it.

I would have riders come by me steady on flat sections and I couldn’t even jump on their wheel and pretend to race. It was pure survival mode for the next 7 laps. That’s right, we went up and down that damn Mt Krumpit 10 times. I doubt even the race winner was excited to see the lap cards read five to go half way through.

I limped into the finish the last rider to not get pulled and I took advantage of being the last rider on course by riding that last lap at my own slowed pace.

To top things off I was briskly met by a USADA doping chaperone immediately after I crossed the line. I couldn’t even wallow in my sorrows under the confines of my own tent, or quickly clean up to watch the women’s race. I had to scurry off to a cramped, though pleasantly air conditioned, building with a few other sweaty cyclists and wait to pee in a cup while someone watches every drop come out.

Becca: World Cups have started! If opening weekend is like the first day of school for cyclocross, world cups are like exams – a time when we are put to test against the best. They are stressful, require more preparation, and the results means a lot. World Cups mean higher UCI points, bigger payouts**, and potential TV time. It’s amazing to have two world cups here in the US, so that we can compete at the highest levels without the need to travel, and to share the experience of jetlag and fatigue with our euro friends. Plus, we get to showcase some awesome courses, and Jingle Cross is definitely one of the best. The worst part of the US world cups, is that the time of year usually means they are very hot and muggy, which adds a bit of an extreme element, and not for the better.

I was fairly confident after my course laps on Friday; I could ride everything smoothly and felt powerful. A rainstorm overnight was enough to guarantee no dust, and have us questioning potential tire choices. But sun and wind on Saturday proved it would be a day for Maxxis All Terranes – at least for me. Some riders may have chosen file treads, but for the off-cambers on the course, as well as a few of the climbs I knew I needed that extra grip of the All Terrane. Again, after my morning pre-ride I was still feeling confident. The men raced first at Jingle, so I had the benefit of hearing a little about the course after Kerry’s race. His report was that it was fast. Warming up while the men were racing was actually a little therapeutic. While I felt nervous and anxious waiting to get on the trainer, it was really nice to have no distractions while I did my openers. And most importantly, no mechanics eating lunch right next to me. The best news is that Spencer is vegetarian so rarely does he get some delicious food truck meals that make my mouth water, but instead eats lettuce sandwiches or something lame like that.

Off to the line and I picked a spot in the second row towards the right, hoping to avoid any early pinch points. I found my start off the line to be strong for me, I got my pedal and got on top of it. There were some points of jockeying for position, some battles that I won, and some that I lost. I was in a good spot before the first big bottleneck that was the double-level off-camber. I was shuffled into the lower line, not my ideal line, but soon was bumped and found myself shooting up over the grass “median” and up to the top line. I saw this as a golden opportunity because there was a huge gap up there, but, my physical commitment did not match my impromptu enthusiasm and I found myself skateboarding my bike up there, cutting off another rider. By the disgruntled remarks, I realized it was Katerina Nash and I was mortified. Luckily, after I got going, I really don’t think we lost much time, and frankly I may have caused a bit of a pile up that gave us some clearer real estate behind us.

I was more or less in the front group for the run up Mount Krumpit. This was the first time in this world cup that I wasn’t cursing my bad start and chasing hard, and it turns out that may have been to my demise. Knowing that it was hot and that this was one of the hardest courses on the entire UCI circuit, I tried to meter my efforts. Going up the backside of mount Krumpit, I found myself along Katie Compton. I went to pass, but instead took a moment to ride beside her, thinking that she was making a concerted move towards the front of the race. Well, that was not the case. I planned to go behind her on the downhill, following her lines. But we were getting passed. It was a little while before I found the right lines to pass as well, but I was a few more riders back at this point.

When the laps started to settle out, I was battling for about 6th and 7th spots. I had nearly caught Kaitie Keogh when I made my only bobble of the ride (save for the first lap awkwardness) and she was able to put a few more seconds into me. Caroline Mani and I were trading positions all day, but she was finally able to put a final dig into me on the ride up the backside of mount Krumpit, a place where I normally felt strong but this weekend was feeling a little slow. Finally, I rolled across the line in 9th. I met my goal of a top 10, and more proudly, I rode a fairly clean race. My biggest regret was the hesitation on the first lap, but, I am writing it off to say that on a course like Jingle Cross, had I dug deeper I may have gone cross-eyed and ended up crashing.

With Kerry’s race done already, it was super nice to not have to wait around all gross and sweaty and just change clothes after my cool down and head home for dinner.

Kerry: After Saturday’s disappointing showing I was determined to turn things around. I was also convinced that the problems I had encountered the day before were merely an anomaly and not I was properly opened up and ready to race with the best of them.

At call up most of the top 10 from the World Cup decided to sit out. With a little bit less of a stacked field I was looking forward to mixing it up closer to the front.

I got off the line a little slow as I missed a pedal but quickly made up ground and put myself in the top 10. I was riding just off of Gage’s wheel two laps in where we were siting six and seven behind a group of Telenet Lions and being chased by an amalgamation of French, Spanish, and Dutch riders. Gage started to pull away little by little but I was holding my own to the group behind me.

I was content to hang out by myself until I had a little slip up at the bottom of the Mt. Krumpit run up where I ended up on my ass and lost most of the 10 sec gap I had on my chasers. I shuffled my feet up Mt. Krumpit and settled in to the chase group.

We rode together for the next 3-4 laps when the attacks started going. Rebecca was standing on the side lines telling me all I had to do was beat one person in my group to beat her so my motivation was set.

With two to go Filipe, a Spanish rider, got a bit of a gap and Steve Chanel attacked to close it. I tried to go with him but didn’t have much of a top end at this point in the race. The heat and humidity was worse Sunday than it was in the World Cup and every time I went into the red I payed for it.

I kept Steve in sight and managed to gap the rider behind me to roll across the line in 9th. There was no time to be happy with my ride as I thought I may be boiling inside and there were no medics handing out cold water at the finish (a bit of an oversight on their part).

In hindsight I wish I could have had my Sunday performance on Saturday but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Onward to the Trek Cup this weekend and another shot at a top 20 in a World Cup. I’d like to finish this block of four weekends off strong and use it as a big stepping stone moving into the rest of the season but all I can do is focus on the things I can control. So I’ll give Sherman a couple extra pets and belly rubs for good luck and show up on Sunday with sharp elbows and numb legs.

Becca: Day two was the same course, but you wouldn’t know that from the course preview that was open at a time such that the women could use it. I went out for the course opening and saw a muddy field that did not include many elements we would be racing – those were only opened up after Caroline and I complained that for the umpteenth year in a row, we were not told what our course would be nor given the opportunity to preride it, as the other preride window was only the hour before our race. BUT enough of this broken record story.

So, the muddy preride done, I had no desire to go out on course again and deal with that cleanup, but we all saw that the course was drying up fast. I should have just gone out again, but instead I got on the trainer for my warmup and asked Kerry what he thought of the course. He let me know his tire pressure, so I took my muds up from 20 psi to 22 psi.

With a lot of the starters from Saturday sitting Sunday out, I was awarded a front row start. I was fast off the line and sitting in a solid position going into the holly jolly hell hole, but, once we hit the next turns I thought I had a flat rear tire. I pushed through and kept the places I could. I was a little nervous going into the steep chicanes off of Mt Krumpit and had to take the faster turns on the flat a little more slowly. I hit pit two and swapped bikes, yelling I either had a flat rear or needed more pressure. I exited the pit at least five spots back. By the time I passed the group, we were back at pit one and I pitted again to get the bike with higher pressure. I lost a few more spots again. From then on I didn’t need to pit and just focused on the ride. I was closing in on the top five again, but one bobble on the chicanes set me back. And I was losing battle after battle just unable to push through in the heat, which was pushing 90F and 1000% humidity.

I ended up 10th after a much sloppier race than the day before. I made a few mistakes, largely not preriding close enough to my race and choosing too low a tire pressure to start on. However, though I desperately wanted to quit, I did not, which is a mental victory.

This is all fuel for the fire leading in to the next world cup at Trek. And, I am exiting the weekend still up by two in the inter-team battle, I really expect to be up by 4 after this coming weekend.

Jingle Cross Vlog recap!