Nittany is done and dusted.
Yesterday was much better than expected. Coming into the race I was prepared for a dirt crit, which is what it was last year on a dry/dusty course. However, this year the rain drizzled down late in the morning and continued through the afternoon. Since it has been so dry in Pa this year the ground was hard and didn’t soak up much of the rain. Therefore, the track was really greasy and slippery where the grass had been pushed away from past races.
I am always a proponent for muddy conditions, I like the added element of handling ability and unpredictable, always changing lines.
After botching the start I found myself sitting comfortably in a chasing group of 4. Cam D, Jeremy D, Curtis W, and myself gunning for Dan T and the Belgian, who showed me a thing or two about line choice as he floated by me on his way to the front of the race. Nothing exciting happened all race. Small gaps opened and then closed back down. Jeremy crashed late in the race and never reconnected. So it was Cam, Curtis, and I on the last lap. Cam pushed hard towards the beginning of the lap and opened a small gap, which I or Curtis never closed back down. Curtis and I then rode together until the final rise when I pushed too hard too early and he came around me for 4 putting me in 5th.
All in all I was pumped about the mud and how I felt. My fitness was there and so was my handling skills. This was my first time running the Clement PDX’s, which were just what the doctor ordered for the greasy conditions. My only regret is not doing any pre race laps to dial in tire pressure. I could’ve ran a couple PSI lower but got stuck in traffic on the way to the race and wasn’t able to pre ride.
Onward and upward!
This upcoming Wednesday I will be racing in my first CX World Cup. To say that I am nervous is a bit of an understatement. However, racing this world cup isn’t a complete and utter unknown. I have raced a couple Mountain Bike World Cups and World Championships abroad, which are as fast a mountain bike race as you can ask for. With those experiences I go fourth, into Cross Vegas, with some realistic expectations.
This past weekend at the first CX race of the season, Ellison Park CX, I felt like I had good legs and my fitness was there. This was a big time relief because the first race of any season always plagues a racers mind with uncertainty and anxiety. The last two cross seasons I started a little off the back because I have always come off of a full MTB season. Therefore, this year I chose to pull the plug on MTB season after Nationals in late July. This allowed me some time off the bike to reset, mentally and physically. Also, some time to get back into race form before the first race of the season. Ergo, I was even more anxious to see how my fitness was.
With some good fitness, an eager mind, and a new team with great support I am pretty confident about putting a good race together for Cross Vegas. Can I put a place on my confidence? That get a little tricky.
Currently, I am ranked 66th in the world. That means the guys in front of me are no slouches and there are a few things to take into account. All 65 guys in front of me will most likely not be at Vegas, because, for one it is a stand alone event in the U.S. and we all know Euros don’t like to travel across the pond. Another thing, Vegas is a month before the next world cup. It makes more sense for some guys to race in Europe, eliminating travel to the U.S., and fine tune before Valkenburg, the next world cup in mid October.
So it is safe to assume that I will start better than 66th, however, it will be harder to advance on the guys that are in front of me because they will be some badass cross bosses. With that said, I am looking to half my UCI ranking. I want to go 33rd. UCI points go 50 deep and you get 5 just for finishing, how cool is that (you only get 3 for finishing in MTB… #lame!)? So at 33rd I would be looking at 27 points, which is almost as good as 2nd at a C2 and the points count regardless of how many C2 points I get (Only you’re top 5 C2 finishes count towards points UCI ranking).
With my prediction out there the only thing left to do is act! I fly out on Tuesday around noon from Philly and get into Vegas at 4:30. If everything goes smoothly I should be able to get to the course, do a course pre ride, then back to the hotel and relax until the following night. Then it will be time to shotgun a Redbull and unleash hell in the Desert Breeze soccer complex!
Sorry for the lack of pictures… I know words are boring.