Monday, October 26, 2009

Louisville, KY, USGP Weekend Recap

Over the weekend I made the short trip south to Louisville, KY for round 3 & 4 of the United States Grand Prix of Cyclocross. I have dabbled a bit with cross over the years at the local level in Michigan and Arizona, but have never been to a cross event of the size and scale of the USGP. The UCI Cyclocross Festival in Cincinnati a couple weeks back was a good introduction to big-time cross racing, but the USGP series brought the level up a notch.

Almost all of my cyclocross experience has been on a mountain bike, with some success. I experimented with a true cross bike a couple years back, but never really felt comfortable on it. This year I've decided to try it again and picked up a sweet ride from a good friend of mine. The debut ride was at the Masters 35+ race in Cincinnati, and I snapped my chain after crashing on the second lap. Ditto on day 2. Not a good start. Thinking back, I've realized that I have never finished a race on a cross bike, as mechanicals have always came up. Gotta fix that quick.

Bit of a tangent there, so back to the weekend. Bike is working sweet now, I put a new chain on and got in a decent week of training to break it in. Lined up in the last row of the Elite Masters 35+ and figured I'd ease into it and just try to pick guys off as the race went on. Off goes the gun and here we go. Race was brutal, the ground was so soft it felt like you were pedaling in wet cement. I moved up to about the halfway point of the fifty man field, but that was about as far as I would get. Suffered like mad and finished in 27th. I swear my bike must have been ten to fifteen pounds heavier at the end from all the mud caked onto it.

The course had dried out a bit by Sunday, but there were still some big mud holes scattered about. A reroute added a wickedly muddy stair section that came immediately following a nasty, off-camber 180 degree turn. Started back row again, but my strategy today was to hit it hard off the start and try to hold on. Made it up to around 20th, but no further. Ended up finishing 22nd and felt like I had a knife in my lower back on the last two laps. Forgot how hard cross racing can be. Adios.

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