Nationals Race Report: 10-29 year old Race
I arrived at the course a little bit before nine o’clock. So I had time for one lap before the start of the women’s race at nine o’clock. The course was a little bit icy since it was still pretty cold at this point in the morning. I ended up running into a few stakes and even crashing on the warm-up lap, this was going to be an interesting race. I then went back to my car to sit in the heat for a bit and then hopped on my trainer to finish getting warmed up for my race. Then I headed over to the starting line.
It was an interesting field of about forty guys since there was no category three race at nationals so instead we were racing with everyone from age 10 to age 29, no one really knew what ability each other had. After waiting around for several minutes it was finally time for staging. It was the most interesting type of staging I have ever dealt with. They had a race official hold up a number between 0 and 9, and if it was the last number of your racing number then you could line up. I was lucky to be the third number called and line up in the second row. Everyone was eventually staged and it was time to race, time to finally put all of my training to the test. The whistle was blown and we were off!
It was a really ideal start for gaining position, there was a long stretch of road followed by a grass section with some easy turns around a field. This whole section took about a minute and a half and I was able to put myself into somewhere around 15th place. It was time to start the grind that is a cross race and move up. This wide open section was followed by a 180 turn and then a long gradual uphill, followed by a steep muddy incline. I passed a few people on this section, and passed a couple more on the gradual false flat that followed the climb. By this time the weather was really looking up and it had warmed up quite a bit from an hour earlier, the ice was starting to melt in a few places but the course was starting to get muddy. I went flying around a turn, a little too ambitiously, and lost traction and had to put a foot down. A couple guys immediately passed me. There was no way I was going to give up all those positions that easily. I rounded the last turn before the run-up and carried a bunch of speed into it, hoping to be able to carry some momentum into the stairs but instead I slipped and lost my footing on the muddy slope before the stairs. I quickly regained my footing, ran up the stairs and passed a few people in the process. I was now in the middle of a group of about five guys. I stayed in the group until a series of a hairpin turns, where I was wondering why everyone was being so cautious. I remember thinking to myself, come on you wusses you can turn faster than that. So I accelerated out of one of the turns to pass and hit a patch of ice and fell and sent my bike flying another ten feet off of the course. I quickly stood up only to wait as all five guys passed me. I ran back over to my bike hopped on and accelerated to the back of the group. At that point I decided I would be better off if I took the turns a little slower instead of flying into them and crashing, I definitely didn’t follow that plan too long. I waited until we reached the next uphill and then accelerated passed the whole group and put a gap between us. I was now in sixth place and was closing on fifth and fourth place. I pulled up to the wheel of the guy in fifth place on a pavement/grass power section on the back of the course, waited and then stood and accelerated past him and gained a ten foot advantage. He quickly closed it back up as we went through a couple of turns and went over the only set of barriers. He stayed on my wheel until we reached a straightaway right alongside the finishing straight and I slowed down to prepare for a left turn and he came flying around me on my right side. I knew then that it was going to be hard to beat this guy. I sat on his wheel until we reached the next false flat and we were both riding on the side of the path because the middle of the path was all ice. I decided to try for a pass again so I was going to cross over the ice and ride on the other side of the path where there also wasn’t any ice. I accelerated while I was sitting and moving over across the ice only to lose traction on the ice and fall again. I stood back up, remounted and regained fifth place’s wheel a half of a lap later. I passed him on the power section on the back of the course and held it until we were alongside the finishing straight again. I knew from the time before that he like to pass on the right side so rode as close as I could to the fence on the right side of the course to block him, but he still came flying by me on the right side. I sat on his wheel through a few turns and then decided to try to accelerate past him on the left side 30 feet before a left hand turn. I gained a slight lead over him as we rode side-by-side and he started to move towards his left and he put right off of the course and ran into one of the stakes. I moved my bike back out on to the course and hammered on the pedals right back to his wheel within 45 seconds of him putting me off of the course. I sat there until we reached the long downhill on the last half of the course. We pulled up alongside one of his teammates that had blown-up and was dropping back fast, I was now in fifth. The guy I was with lost concentration and carried too much speed into a turn and had to slam on his brakes to save himself from flying into the tape. This was my chance, and it was the last lap. I flew by him turned onto the pavement and went flying into the next muddy turn, figuring that I would go for broke since the race would be over in less than a minute. I flew into the turn only to fall again. The guy passed me up again, and this time the crash was bad enough that I had turned my bars 45 degrees from being straight. I figured that I would just ride it with them like this since the race was almost over and there were a few guys that were only 15 seconds back or so. I turned on to the finishing straight and rode through the finish line only to see that we still had one more lap to go. I guess I was just going to have to ride another lap with bars slanted because there was no way that I was going to stop, and at least now I had a chance to try and catch the guy in front of me. I ended up laying down one of my fastest laps, but I came up about 6 seconds short of catching the guy in front of me as I sprinted through the finish line but I finished in fifth place. It was a great way to end the season, I was definitely in top form for this race just like Rob Kelley had planned. Even though I fell a lot I was able to make up for it and more with my endurance.
Thanks everyone for such a great cross season, we really made a name for ourselves this year. Now it’s time for a short break and then it’s back to training to get ready for the road season.