Doug and I spent a relaxing week in Winston Salem before arriving in Cincinnati for the Cincy CX weekend, kicking off at Devou Park.
We set up on Friday afternoon and I pedaled a lap, before heading out on the road. The course was set up exactly like it had been in years past. Because there was tons of grass, the promoters had just finished taping it, I headed out on the road to grab some pre-race vibes. The rain was going to come down overnight anyway and the course was going to be completely different so it seemed like a waste of time and energy to do a bunch of laps.
That evening we settled into our host house the Haubner’s, north of Cincy near Mason. They were extremely gracious so Doug and I had no problems fitting in and chatting with them and their eager son James, a Lion Hearts Team junior racer, about everything and anything bikes/racing.
Saturday we awoke to snow flurries on the ground, which quelled my suspicions of having the course dry out by our 5pm race time. I was very excited about finally getting rain but when I heard that it was only overnight I was skeptical that the mud would hang around until 5pm, it had been dry in the area. I turned out to be very wrong. When we arrived at the course and set out for pre-ride the entire course was layered with heavy peanut buttery mud and a hard slick foundation.
Watching the women’s race blow apart in the first lap got me excited to get our race underway. There was a tricky off-camber about 1min into the course off the start line and I knew that it would be good to be in the top five for that.
I managed to grab the holeshot and hung onto it until Stephen came around be ¼ of the way through the lap and decided to check out early.
I held on to the front of the race the best I could the first couple laps but was going backward finally fading to 8th.
The thick mud called for me to change my riding style, which I started to figure out halfway through the race and I found my groove. I am more used to wet slippery mud that allows you to ride fast and maintain a high cadence. The thick stuff calls for a slower, full body, effort with a lower more muscley cadence and it is something I struggle with.
I made up a few spots finishing in sixth, disappointed because I had higher expectations for that first mud race.
There was a shakeup in the US Cup CX standings as Tobin didn’t have a good day and Spencer Petrov had a great day. Stephen took over the lead, Tobin dropped to 2nd, and Spencer and I tied for 3rd only 9 points down from Tobin.
With a venue change for Sunday, we loaded up the trailer and headed to William Harbin Park 35min North of Devou. We dropped the trailer and picked up some good Thai takeout, which was promptly devoured as soon as we walked in the door.
Sunday was a magical morning like Saturday as we did not wake up to snow but we did get to watch Euro CX racing, which we didn’t on Saturday. That killed most of the morning until I went over to the course at around 1pm for pre-ride.
The cold overnight temps and overcast conditions kept a lot of the moisture on the ground so we were dealing with a mix of slick off cambers and tacky Velcro corners. I was very tempted to running the Donnelly file tread, LAS, but swapped out on the line for the MXP’s, which was a good call as pitting would have been a big disadvantage in the tight racing and the MXP’s gave me larger room for error when bleeding out of my eyes and going hypoxic.
I had a special motivation maker hidden under my zip off tights and when the UCI official called 3min to start I unveiled my Jakroo Galaxy tights, which match my kit like chicken goes with waffles. I also pinned my number on the wrong side so Doug had to do an impromptu repin…
I found the holeshot again and was feeling good. After the first few laps, things started to shuffle around. There was a long slog of a grass climb up to the finish stretch, which felt like riding on a wet sponge, complete power sap.
Stephen got to the front early and only Gage Hecht was able to match the effort. I managed to reel them in on that spongey climb just as they had formed their gap but promptly after I latched on to Gage’s wheel Stephen took one look back at my jaw dragging on the ground and dropped the hammer. I didn’t have the strength to even pretend to go with it. I sat up and waited for the shattered remains of the groups behind me to swallow me.
Curtis White, Jamey Driscoll, and Eric Brunner, a young gun out of Colorado, were among those that swallowed me alive. We grouped up and set a good tempo distancing those behind us and trying to dislodge each other.
Eric was punching way above his weight class and doing a great job. He hung in there until the end when he started to come unglued, which left Jamey, Curtis, and I to battle for the last podium spot. It came down to that last grass sloggy hill climb to the finish. Curtis and I sat on Jamey’s wheel and we all had the most awkward looking sprint coming up onto the pavement as we were all fighting our legs from seizing.
Curtis got the best of both of us but I slotted in at fourth. I was obviously bummed about missing out on the podium but so pumped because I knew I just moved into second in the US Cup CX overall. Tobin had another bad day and Spencer DNF’d. So Stephen solidified his top step, I moved into second and Curtis moved into third twenty points down from me.
We loaded the truck and trailer and got out of Harbin park before the cold saturated us to our bones. We arrived at the host house to Cincy famous La Rosas’ pizza and plowed through too many pieces. Again, the Haubners were great hosts. James ended up winning his U15 races both Saturday and Sunday and I am excited that they are coming to Louisville (said like you have a mouth full of trail mix) next weekend to catch more racing action.