After Providence, I knew I needed some time off from racing to get some fitness together for the second half of the season. Therefore, I opted to take three weeks off before Cincy3. There were some smaller races (NJ and Missouri) where I would have had a good chance at getting some UCI points but I thought it better to avoid travel and prep for the bigger races to come.
I had Jim Lehman from CTS barking orders in my ear over the past three weeks and he had me running ragged, though it was completely necessary. I spent that time in Banner Elk, NC where the weather was very cooperative. I also got to compete in a weekend of NCCX (North Carolina Cyclocross Series) racing, which was rad.
I left Banner Elk with the Ken’s Bike Shop crew (the Shields twins and their dad, Kerry Shields) and we arrived at our Hotel in Mason, OH on Thursday night.
Cincy3, a three-day race weekend, meant that instead of checking out the course Friday, it was straight into racing! We woke up and had a morning spin before the rain struck. Then my mood became elevated when it kept raining all afternoon. I hadn’t had a muddy race in a while so I was looking forward to getting a little loose.
October 31st – Harbin Park, Fairfield, OH
We got to the course at Harbin Park where Chris and Taylor had the Optum compound set up. I quickly got dressed and got on course for a few laps.
I quickly got comfortable on my Challenge Limus tubulars, only adjusting pressure as I did a few more laps.
Crystal kicked things off for the Optum crew in the UCI women’s race grabbing a top ten and I was up next.
The rain was holding off but the course was still really slick, with occasional misting.
The gun went off and I made my way up from the second row to top five after the first corner and from there I never looked back. I felt comfortable right away and a small gap formed behind Justin Lindine, Troy Wells, and myself.
Danny Summerhill checked out early with no signs of slowing down so it was a race for second. A few laps in, I crashed causing me to fall back to Driscoll, with Berden in pursuit. Up until three to go this is how the race stayed then I dropped my chain in a corner causing me to fall back to Berden. I continued to drop my chain two more times in the same corner because I wasn’t pitting enough and the build up of mud was pushing my chain off my CX1 setup. The one time I did pit, my crew had me covered!
Thus, Cody Kaiser caught me and I battled out the last lap with him but he got the best of me at the finish causing me to get 6th.
I was obviously a little unhappy with my rookie mistake of not pitting enough but lesson learned and it was a good start to the weekend nonetheless.
November 1st – Kings CX After Dark, Mason, OH
Saturday was a night race, 8pm for the men. So I had to find stuff to do all day. I went for a spin then caught up on some news and even managed to almost take a nap…
Off to the race to check out the course at 5pm, which was dry and had some interesting features; most notably a ditch, large sand pit, and huge but short steep knoll, which we climbed and descended 4-5 times a lap.
Crystal kicked things off with another solid top 10.
I warmed up and was ready to have a repeat result. There were some bigger names there on Saturday (guys saving it for the C1), like J-Pow and Zach McDonald, and a few others.
The gun went off and I didn’t have the start I needed. It was dark and I wasn’t being very aggressive, which caused me to fall back to 20th or so by the first corner. I made it through the first lap in the same spot and went into the second lap ready to move up. However, just past the start off of a slight down hill into a left hand turn I lost my front wheel. I was doing at least 20mph and my bike did some summersaults when I hit the ground. I got in front of Ryan Trebon just before the corner and was happy that I didn’t take him or anyone else down with me. I got back on my bike but my shifter was trashed and my derailleur was done-zo. That was the race for me. I got a new bike and considered finishing the race but I made it to the same corner on lap three and a crash in front of me claimed more bikes and people and set me back some more time so I pulled the plug.
I definitely wasn’t happy about DNFing. Especially after sitting around all day for that race to only race for 15min… I had to get over it and look at it as openers for Sunday. My thought was that I would be a little fresher.
November 2nd – Cyclo-Stampede p/b Darkhorse Racing, Covington, KY
Sunday was back to 4pm racing. The women, U23 men and U23 women had Pan American Championship UCI points up for grabs. Elite men just had C2 points. It was definitely a different atmosphere with this race being the first Pan American CX race in the world!
Crystal went off at 3pm and was having a decent race until a puncture deflated not only her tire but fierce prowess as well.
Immediately following Crystal’s race, I was ready to claim redemption on Saturday. I had a good start off the line and stayed up in the top ten gradually moving up into 5th before having a little bobble and sitting in 7th. From then on it was all about consistency, which was hard because this was definitely the most technical course of the year. It was dry but had some very challenging off chamber, climb, and descent features.
I was doing well for the most part except for struggling on one of the courses defining features. On the backside of the course was a right-hand turn into super steep loose dirt hill off of pavement, which was giving me trouble, every lap. Early in the race I struggled coming into it with a group, not choosing the right line and being held back by other rider’s bobbles. Then later in the race I kept trying to ride it but would mess up at the top causing an irregular transition from riding to running.
With that said the chase group would put a second or two into me in the middle of the race leaving me in no mans land come 3 to go. So it was time trial mode and I was able to focus long enough to hold off Livermon and Trebon for 6th again.
All in all it was a good start to the second half of the season. There were some points to improve on, but there usually always is. After three weeks of not racing really hard I will give myself some room for error.
I am currently in Louisville, KY. Crystal and I drove here on Monday and settled into our new digs south of town. We are surrounded by busy roads, however, we managed to found salvation in a state park, which contained some fun single track that was very CX bike friendly!
Stay tuned. Friday night just behind Slugger Stadium, in Derby City, we will be putting the rubber to the ground. Live feed link to come!
Photo © Kent Baumgardt