I arrived on Friday afternoon after a 6 hour drive up from Winston Salem, NC. Unfortunately, the race promoter did not take out insurance for the course on Friday so when we got to the venue we had to settle for an hour of 1.5 mile laps around the lake in the park.
I was bummed out about not riding the course because I had never raced Charm City before. I had heard that the course was really cool and it was – It had a good mix of fitness with flowy, technical corners, a significant sand pit, some stairs, and a brand new fly-over, which we got to witness the construction of on Friday.
After hanging out with the Ken’s Bike Shop team (the Shields Family) and a good night of sleep, it was race day. Friday arrivals make the weekend go by so fast, which is good but also a little more hectic as well.
After a morning spin I gather my race gear and headed over to the course to do a few course laps, watch the women’s race, and saddle up for my own. My parents drove down from PA to catch the weekend, which was great. I love having some die hard fans cheering for me out on course. However, I was nervous due to a somewhat hard week of training so I was looking to be conservative on the first day.
The gun went off and we hit a long stretch of pavement before an abrupt near 180º right hander that funneled into the first stair section. The start was pretty chaotic and I probably didn’t play it as aggressively as I should have, and found myself outside of the top ten on the first lap. I buckled in for the rest of the race and moved up when I could. I found myself in a group of 4 or 5 after the first couple laps but got off the front of it on the climb with Travis Livermon and we set a good pace to keep distancing the group. Him and I moved up throughout the rest of the race, battling between ourselves and passing a few others. I had a bit more gas at the end, and I took advantage of it with 2 laps to go and went solo to finish 8th.
I was pretty happy about the race, especially considering the workload of the past week. So now it was off to clean up, have dinner, and have a relaxing evening with my family.
Same protocol for day two, minus the morning spin. I showed up in time to do some course laps, which was being run backwards, and catch the women’s race while I warmed up. My front row call up was great for the long paved start, which I attacked a little harder this time. I came off the pavement inside the top ten and hanging on the back of the front group.
Gaps were opening up in front of me and I was slow to close them down, and I lost contact with the front group of 4. I tried to ride on Jonathan Page’s wheel from that point, but he ended up putting the stick to me on the big climb and opened up a bit of a gap, which I watched grow about a second per lap. I found myself riding with Travis Livermon again (racing buddies!) but separated myself from him and one or two other guys with 4 laps to go. I put my head down and went into hyper focus mode, trying to stay smooth and consistent while gradually distancing myself from some chasers. I held them off to gain one spot on day two – finishing in 7th.
After the race I cooled down with my mom, of all people, which was great. Then I packed up and headed two hours north to my parent’s house near Reading, PA. This is my midway point before heading further northeast for the Gloucester GP and Providence CX weekends, both of which I have never raced before. I am pumped to be racing in these two races. They are part of what defines cross racing in America. I am also looking forward to meeting back up with my Optum p/b KBS CX teammates and staff for the next two weekends after flying solo in Baltimore!