A weekend off after Supercross Cup and I was rearing and ready to go for Jingle CX. I really liked last years race and this year the weather was much more mild so I was pumped to race.
I arrived and met the team on Thursday. I found out from a local guy on Thursday that Iowa City got some rain and snow earlier in the week. Also, the ground was going through a freeze/thaw phase every night and day so there was going to be mud! This raised my level of readiness to race.
Friday, after spending way too much time in the Waterstreet Coffee House, we got out for a morning spin. Then before we knew it we had to head over to the course for some pre ride laps in preparation of the 8pm start.
The course was fun to ride in pre ride, lots of mud and not a lot of ruts and surprisingly it wasn’t very slippery. However, the cold air and other races were drying up the course so the mud turned peanut buttery and gave the feeling of power suck. The most defining feature on course was the Mount Krumpit run up, which was close to a minute of running up steep, ankle deep mud.
The women kicked things off at 7 and Caroline established herself in the front group. Lots of pitting kept our mechanics super busy. By the end of the race it came down to survival. Caroline was smart and stayed out of trouble executing a perfect timed last lap attack to clinch her the win.
We lined up and boom! I was pumped to have a clean start and took the hole shot. I felt great pedaling but when we hit Mt Krumpit the first lap I knew I was in for a long race. The long uphill run hurt me and by the third lap I got dropped by the front group and was doing damage control. Every lap up the run I was losing more power for the pedal sections. Luckily I didn’t have to fight anyone for a sprint on the last lap because I was drained. I managed to finish 7 and was looking forward to Day 2.
The whole crew gathered for dinner Friday night, late, and after clogging our bath tubs/sinks with mud and grass we did laundry then tried to sleep. I struggled with sleep all night, as racing at 8pm keeps my heart rate up until well into the morning.
Saturday morning Jamey, Lance, and I went out for a morning spin then got to the race in time for a pre ride. The girls were already there and gave us the low down on the course. To my disappointment we were routed up the Mt Krumpit run up again. We then would descend off the top and climb up the backside of the hill. It was a very physically demanding course and the ground was a bit more slippery so I was optimistic.
Caroline quickly established herself in the lead group again and took some turns at the front throwing haymakers. Unfortunately, Katerina Nash had a big engine and was railing the corners. Katerina laid it down on the climb on the backside of the course and got a small gap. Again, the race came down to the last lap. The women’s field is so stacked, which leads to some great tactical racing. Caroline was able to hang on for 2nd.
We lined up next and I was able to have another good clean start. I clung on to the top 5 and was anticipating a fade up the run up but managed to hold my own. I was also surprised how well I felt on the climb after the run up. My legs were opened up after the Friday night race so I was ready to do business. I found myself in a group of 3 with Page, Jamey, and myself. Jamey was struggling early on in the race but I knew he would come around towards the end so I tried to help as much as I could to keep Page in sight and do most of the work when we were together.
Jamey was able to put a surge on with 2 to go and got away to hold onto fourth. I was able to gap Page and hold him off for 5th, which was my best C1 race. Also, first guy to finish that raced on Friday! Woot. Lance also had a great race. Finished 14th, which got him his first Elite race UCI points.
Saturday night we gathered for dinner in down town Iowa City. Again, dinner was followed with rinsing clothes and doing laundry.
Sunday morning the sky opened up and drizzled a little bit. We were feeling groggy from the last two days so opted out of a morning spin. Even the slacker, Jamey, who didn’t race Friday wasn’t in favor of a morning spin on a chilly misty morning.
We headed to the course and did some pre laps. No run up Sunday! Woot. The rain made the course more slick and there were some deep ruts starting to form. There wasn’t enough rain to make the mud super sloppy, rather thick and clay like. Jamey and I had to drop down to 40t chain rings in the front so we could manage to pedal up the climb.
Just cause there wasn’t the mt Krumpit run up didn’t mean there was no running. There was still an uphill run that the women were able to ride but by the time our race started it was damn near impossible. After the race when I heard Jamey rode it during the race I was stunned and then realized why he was able to pull off the win (he was smashing!).
Caroline killed it yet again. Not able to take the win but another 2nd place to Katerina, which was no small feat.
My start wasn’t as good as my last two days but I was still in good position, until I wiped out in the second corner. I then fought back up into 5th but was struggling. I felt like I only had one speed and it wasn’t able to handle any accelerations or hard pushes through the deeper thicker mud. I rode most of the race behind Todd Wells. He gapped me about 3 laps in and I could bring him back. Another crash with 2 to go brought Dan Timmerman in striking distance and he caught me with half a lap to go then proceeded to, kick the horse while it was down, sprint around me for 6th. So I was left in 7th again. I was mentally out of the race but it gave me great satisfaction to hear the announcers talking about Jamey’s last lap surge to catch Stephen and take the W!
All in all it was a great weekend. The team did awesome and I had my best C1. James, Doug, and Chad deserve the biggest round of applause for being at the venue all day (in the cold and wet), dealing with our untimely equipment requests, dealing with pressure washers removing skin from hands, etc… The list goes on and on. The point is none of us would have been able to finish a single race without their support.
Next up for me is Hendersonville. I always like the course, especially when its wet and I can’t wait to pick Tim Hopkins (the Hendersonville promoter and runs the NCCX series) ear about the nationals course.
All photos courtesy of Meg McMahon