It all started with an overnight drive from Iowa City, IA to Winston Salem, NC on Sunday night, and well into Monday morning. I spent the week recovering from that adventure and the three days of racing in 20° weather at Jingle Cross.
On Friday, Emily and I drove from Winston to my parents house in Pennsylvania where we stayed the night, repacked, re-organized, and got some sleep prior to driving 2.5 hours north to Stony Point, NY on Saturday morning for the race.
We arrived just before eleven and I was all smiles. Last year the weather was 30° or just below 30° with high winds, which cut through all layers of clothing like a knife. This year it was 40° and sunny – perfect racing conditions!
After pre-riding the course, I was even more excited to race. The ground had been frozen all week and the warm weather was causing some sloppy corners – my favorite conditions; Dry weather but a slick course. My Challenge Limuses were definitely the tire of choice.
I lined up at 2pm for the start of the Elite Men’s race and the gun cracked. I got off to an okay start. Top five, until the first left-hander off the pavement into the grass. Someone laid it over in the middle of the field and I couldn’t get around it. I came out of that in roughly 15th and with the front of the race still in sight I knew I had to get up there, and fast, before they (Dan Timmerman and Cameron Dodge) decided to check out.
I spent the first two laps getting back to the front then the next two settling in. I was really enjoying the course. It had some fun slippery technical sections, which I am sure everyone fell on (except Dan Timmerman) at some point during the race. I tried to apply some pressure in the technical section when I could, but in the end it came down to Dan, Cameron, and I. Dan applied some pressure with two to go and Cameron and I came off a bit. Cameron was able to put his head down and bridge the gap. I think I spent a couple matches at the beginning of the race chasing the front-runners and I was left with an empty tank on the last lap. I rode it in for third.
After a quick stop at doping control it was back to the hotel for some great dinner my dad packed and relaxation. Mom, Dad, and I also went to the larger than life shopping mall next to the hotel to try on some Xmas presents…
The next day, I slept in as late as I could, skipped a morning spin, packed up the car, and headed to the course for day two.
I was determined to climb a step or two today; I wasn’t sure how easy that was going to be considering Curtis White showed up fresh for day two.
Day two was another 2pm start time. I had another less than ideal start. After some bobbles remounting after the barriers and the steps I came through the end of lap 1 in 10th. Again, Timmerman and Curtis were off the front. It took three or four laps to start to bring them back. I didn’t make contact with them until about 3 to go. Those guys were slugging it to each other, and me, I was trying to be consistent and not do too much work in order to save a little bit for the end of the race.
With the three of us off the front I knew a podium was attainable but I wanted more. We came into the last lap and hit the first sloppy turn. Curtis applied some pressure, bobbled and slowed the both of them up. I managed to get around the bobble and hit the steep run or ride up in the lead. I managed to ride it. I looked back and had a small gap. It was a “now or never” type of situation. So I put my head down for half a lap and came through the second pit with about 5 second gap on Dan and Curtis another 5 seconds back. I had the hardest fitness sections ahead of me so I buried myself! I managed to hold the gap, though I felt Dan breathing down my neck the whole second half of the lap. One bobble would have connected us. I hit the pavement first and rode into my first UCI win of the season.
I couldn’t have been happier to do it with my parents there and at such a cool race. I have done Super Cross the last three years and always enjoy it. Myles Romanow puts on a good race and always manages to get the Wafels & Dinges Truck at the race, which is definitely a plus and tastes so much better after a win.
Now it’s off to Sterling and then reuniting with the team in Warwick! But first it’s Turkey Day! Have a good one!
Photo © Marco Quezada