Another chilled out week for me this past week. I wanted to come into Louisville as recovered from the last two weeks as possible.
I loaded up and hit the road Thursday for Johnson City, TN. One of my besties/roommates from college lives in and works JC. So three hours to JC then five on Friday broke the drive up pretty good.
I arrived at the venue around 1:30 on Friday to find James, Doug, and Chad had everything set up and ready to roll. Perfect! I was in an elevated mood due to a bathroom/snack stop on the way at McDonald’s for the all-day breakfast “Egg McMuffin”. First time I have taken advantage of that.
The problem with pre riding the course was that it had rained the day before and was over cast and raining some on Friday too. So there were some pretty tricky off chamber sections, which were super fun to ride. However, all the pre riding everyone did on Friday would be for naught because it was going to be dry and tacky on Saturday. One of those weekends when you go from PDX (Clement mud tires) one day to LAS (clement file tread) the next day. Like I said, it was still fun to ride though. The silver lining to the rain was that James was able to pull his fly rod out and give it a go in the venue! haha
Friday night we had a big group at dinner, 12 strong, including Lances parents who were in town to race and watch young Lancy Pants tear it up.
I was not looking forward to Saturday because I thought there would be a lot of sitting around in anticipation for the race at 6:15pm. However, after breakfast, morning spin, making rice for pre race meal (We have a rice cooker for the team that travels with us everywhere. It was originally Jamey’s thing but was adopted by everyone on the team pretty quickly), and packing we had to head to the course for the 45min pre ride window.
This was great. Finally no stress about checking out the course for 10min in between races. All other promoters should adopt this! The only down side is a lot of venue time but luckily the mechanics make the tent nice to hang out in.
Photo Credit Wil Matthews @photowil on insta and www.wilmatthewsphoto.com
The women went first at 5pm. Off the start there was a 150 m straight on pavement into a sweeping right hand turn, which dove straight down into a mud pit, complete with hidden rocks and some unpredictable ruts. The women demonstrated the difficulty to get through it in the start swarm, there was lots of crashing. As you can see with the video below. Rebecca did some crashing on her own but the rest of the crew got tangled up in over lapping wheels and some took an unfortunate mud bath.
Laurel was one of them, so her race was pretty much done. She soldiered on, ran her bike to the pit, and finished though.
Photo Credit Meg McMahon @Meg_McMahon on insta as well as www.megmcmahon.com
Caroline was held up in the start but that didn’t let it stop her from smashing through the field to finish 4th.
The sunlight faded out and the generators started humming to power, an inadequate amount of, lights for our night race. The course was poorly lit. Luckily, Danny Summerhill complained about the lighting through that first mud pit and the officials managed to put another light on it. That didn’t stop the chaos though.
I had a good start off the line. I was sitting top 5 into the mud. Some guys went left I went middle right and all I heard was spokes being torn out, profanities being issued to fellow racers, and carbon on carbon contact. I was lucky to miss it, and honestly it was luck of the draw. J-pow was first or second wheel into it and he got hung up pretty bad so positioning wasn’t a determining factor.
From there I was in a group for 10 or so. I put my head down and got to work. Moving up when I could and trying to be smooth. I pitted 2nd lap for MXP’s (a middle ground tire). The twilight dew was starting to make tacky turns slick so the file treads had to go.
I found myself battling with Allen Krughoff the last three laps. I truly apologize for my horrendous sand pit riding ability. I botched it the last three laps and it cost us the potential to catch Curtis White who was fading a bit out of the front group. In the end I did make contact with Curtis just as we hit the last punchy climb to the finishing straight. However, as soon as he took two pedal strokes he was gone and there was no hope of even sitting on his wheel to the line.
I was pretty happy with how I rode and felt. I was able to go hard and ride well technically when gassed, except the damn sand. Jamey had some bad luck and admitted to not feeling great so Saturday was his opener. Lance came in 17th after a 3rd row start from his PanAm Champ points last weekend. Very happy to see him finally mixing it up toward the front of the race instead of moving up from the back.
It was 7:15 by the time we finished, which meant a supper late dinner. We spent the dinner passing around phones watching the women’s start crash video and Becca, who was a very good sport about it, turned her unlucky day into something to laugh about at dinner.
Sunday was the same program except we raced at 4:30.
Women took off first and this time they re-routed around the mud pit and some dryer more tacky ruts were formed. No crashes on Sunday. Caroline didn’t have the greatest start and found herself moving up from the back. She made quick work of it and by 3 laps in was battling for 4th then moving up to 3rd, she just missed that front group separation by a lap. Becca was moving up and finished just outside of the top ten. Laurel pushed hard all day too.
I was on the front row again and wanted a good start just in case guys wanted to start overlapping wheels for lines in the mud. I managed to do it off the line and came into the mud in the top 5 again. I didn’t exit as quickly as I would have liked to and found myself in a small group just off the lead group. After two laps I managed to put some distance behind me but couldn’t quite catch that lead group. For the first half of the race they were just 5-10sec ahead of me. They would string out then come back together but I couldn’t make any solid contact. I ended up riding solo-dolo for a good portion of the race. Logan Owen, who was leading on the first lap until he suffered a mechanical, caught me with 2 to go. I think he put a lot of work in to move from last place after his mechanical to catch me so he was a bit tired at the end of the race and I managed to hold him off. Curtis White was just out of arms reach again. So it was 6th again.
Jamey had a much better race. J-pow and Hyde got away towards the end leaving Jamey and Danny S. to battle for third. Jamey made a mistake toward the end of the lap that cost him the podium but he soft pedaled in for 4th. Lance had another great ride finishing at 15th!
So that was it and that was all. A good weekend for me and for the team as a whole.
One thing I want to touch upon is the increased number of spectators on Sunday for the day time race and therefore, one of the reasons to why promoters should shy away from nighttime races.
The night time race, on a Saturday or Sunday, is a terrible idea. For one, the spectators at any bike race are mostly composed of amateur racers from the morning and afternoon that are sticking around to catch the pro races. So to push the pro race back to 6:15 when the last amateur race was like 2:30pm doesn’t seem like a good idea. These racers are people with kids and a family to get home to. If they want to watch a race they want it to be really soon after their race so they can get back home and do whatever normal people do at home on a Saturday night.
There are some races that should be a night race. Vegas for one, because the people that come to watch that are the people that are hanging out an interbike all day and couldn’t be there otherwise. Also, races held on Friday evening, link Jingle CX. It makes sense to have that a night race, because well, day light savings time sucks and after people get off from work there isn’t any sunlight anyway.
The argument that a later race would be “prime time” isn’t really a good argument either. Especially inLouisville, where the race wasn’t streamed live so it wasn’t like you could sit at home in the evening and watch the race.
From a racers stand point it’s pretty annoying. It’s one thing to sit around all day and race at night because it is a spectacle but then to not have the course lit properly is ridiculous! There was a high speed compression that was rutted out on the course, which wasn’t lit until half way through our race Saturday night. I remember coming into one lap and closing my eyes because I was either going to make it through or stack it hard, I really had no idea the line I was taking.
I am not trying to single out Louisville, I just think that there should be some sort of standard when it comes to night races. There should be a minimum amount of lighting, it should be live streamed, and they should push all the races back a little bit so that amateur racers are more likely to stick around and watch the pro races.
So that was my rant on that. I am looking forward to a weekend off, followed by Supercross NY, thanksgiving in Pa with my family, another weekend off, then Jingle!
Go to the Raleigh-Clement facebook page for more photos and other content you may have missed from the weekend!
Until next time!