After a quick weekend in Louisville, KY the team saddled up for a road trip 7.5 hours northwest to Iowa City, IA for Jingle Cross.
Spending the week in Iowa seemed much less appealing than spending more time in Louisville; however, we made the most of it. Crystal and I did all of our riding outside in 20º temps, which I would like to think got us acclimated for the weekend. At least we knew what we were getting into. We went to see a movie, did some mall browsing, coffee shops, and Taylor and I even got matching haircuts from Marks Styles! #optumballshard!
Friday, November 14 – C2
Friday came quickly but the day seemed to drag on until race time. Crystal and I were extremely fortunate to have the setup we did. Heated tents were keying to warming up and not wasting energy prior to race time. Taylor and Chris were on top of it as usual. We also had Andrew Neuser, from the road program and last year’s cx, to lend a helping hand and help populate the twitter-sphere with @optumpbkbs quotes!
Crystal was up first and started off the night with a strong 7th place finish. I toed the line with some good competition and was ready to better my Louisville results. The course wasn’t too technically demanding aside from the bumpy/pitchy climb up Mt. Krumpet, where I did a front flip over the bars only two laps into the race. Unfortunately, it was just after I got to the front of the race and was preparing to put some work in to try and split up our big group of 7. My plan did split the group up but not the way I wanted… Driscoll got away and Ben Berden bridged up on a later lap leaving Brian Matter, Adam Craig and I to battle. Matter and I got away from Craig and the fight for 3rd continued to the line. Unfortunately, I lost by 10m after Brian hit it really hard out of the last corner, which meant 4th place for me on day one. I was a little disappointed with what could have been my first podium but not a bad start.
Saturday, November 15 – C1
Saturday I tried to recover as much as possible. Earlier start time than normal for a day race, 2:45 as opposed to 4 or 5pm. My legs were definitely feeling Friday night’s effort. I lined up after Crystal pulled in another top 10, 9th place, after a solid race all around – good start and strong finish.
The big guns were out for Saturday’s C1 points, which was great but I almost wish I wouldn’t have raced Friday to try and stay towards the front more, almost. I started the race on a Chicane front and Grifo rear, which was good for the first lap, however flurries caused the course to continuously change and I pitted for some more grip, Limuses front and rear. This proved to be a wise decision and helped me big time on the off camber off of Mt. Krumpet. I came in with Yonick Eckman battling for 9th but he got the better of me and I took 10th.
Sunday, November 16 – C2
With more time in between Saturday and Sundays races I was happy to have some more time to recover. I was also pumped to wake up Sunday morning to some snow! This would make for some interesting course conditions.
Crystal and I went to the race and quickly got on course. I was all smiles as I was slipping and sliding around some corners while it was tacky in others.
Crystal’s race was a lot different than mine. The women had a lot of frozen mud sticking to their frames, which was easier to scrape off than it was to use the pressure washer – especially since most pressure washers were frozen. A lot of the women’s cleats were jamming with mud and making it damn near impossible to clip in, which, coincidentally, played a major factor in deciding the women’s winner – Crystal stayed steady and took 9th.
I was ecstatic when I realized I was going to start on the front row. Apparently, a lot of Saturday’s racers were wimping (not the first word that came to mind, but more G rated) out, which was fine with me. With no one in front of me on the start I was determined to get the whole shot and maybe form some gaps on the first lap.
The gun cracked and I cranked the pedals. I took the whole shot then tried to apply some pressure and separate some groups. After the first lap it was a big group of 9 fighting it out. This group lasted for the first 3 laps until Driscoll detonated a bomb and took off up Mt. Krumpet. He had a good gap, at which point Mike Van Den Ham and I battled amongst ourselves to distance Berden off the podium. Coming into the last lap it was between us jostling for 2nd and 3rd. I crashed on the last technical feature on the course but luckily my rider-less bike deterred Mike from just riding away from me. I was able to latch back on within the final couple turns but I was riding timid due to my crash and he came out of the last corner with a bike length on me. He sprinted super hard and I couldn’t close the gap. Therefore, I rode it in for 3rd. Again, a little disappointed but happy with my first podium of the year.
All in all it was a great three days of racing. Thanks to the Promoter and all involved in making the event go off without any hitches. The only thing I ask, and this request is more focused at the UCI, is that we don’t do night races after the first weekend in November. It was way too cold for that!
Thanks a million to Taylor and Chris for their over-the-top pit work this weekend; The bikes were dialed, and more importantly, Crystal and I didn’t have to worry about the cold – just racing fast – which definitely played a huge role in 20º temps.
Good luck to Crystal over the next two weekends in Europe for the Koksijde world cup! For me it is off to the northeast for Supercross, Sterling, and then Warwick!