After sitting around all week playing Xbox (MX Reel), in anticipation for the first Supercross Race on Saturday night, I headed to Asheville. The team house was located way up on a mountain top only 12min drive from the course. It was awesome! Donn did a great job finding the place. We had a wood stove, plenty of space, a great kitchen, basketball hoop (Lance and I took advantage of that, I crushed him in “HORSE”), and tree house with Zip line. I spent some of my free time swinging a hatchet around to make kindling for the evening fires.
Friday I drove to the course to watch Emmy race the collegiate D1 race. Unfortunately, she didn’t end up defending her #1 status. She looked like she could never find a rhythm, which was a crucial thing to find on the course. She ended up 7th, which she wasn’t happy about but I had to remind her that she is in real school now, Graduate school at UNCG.
I didn’t want to waste time and energy riding the course too much before the race so Saturday was the first day I was planning to ride the course.
After some coffee and a lazy early afternoon we with exception of Laurel, because by this point with collegiate racing she had ridden the course plenty of times, got to the course Saturday for the “Sunday Racers Only” course open slot.
All the good photos in this blog are courtesy of Meg McMahon. http://www.megmcmahon.com/
Jamie, Lance and I had a blast ripping around course. We were all feeling pretty comfortable on it and pumped to race it. Honestly, it was the best course I had ridden since I started racing cross 4 years ago. It had a good mix of technical and fitness. Also, the weather was cooperating to plan making the course a little slick. Unfortunately, it rained over night on Saturday into Sunday so the 15-16 girls had the hardest conditions of the day.
Saturday night Emmy joined the team for a big communal dinner. This is one of my favorite aspects about the team. By now conversation about anything was on the table so these dinners tended to be very entertaining.
Sunday morning was go time! We kicked the morning off by stream Caroline at French National champs. She crushed it. I am very proud of her and happy for her as she moves towards the last couple races of her season in a build up to Worlds at the end of the month.
Jamey and I headed out for a quick spin after breakfast and then packed and headed to the course. We had a specific window of time to get on the course, which was good. With the rain over night it was very beneficial to get another look at some changing lines and knowing what to ride/run/ etc.
Laurel kicked off the day in the U23 race around 11am. She finished 4th, which was pretty good considering it was her third day of racing. She probably did more course laps then our entire team combined. Lance was next in the U23 M race. He got off to a great start and even broke to the front to catch some fresh wind on his face. However, he had been sick for the past week, that is why he sat out at Kingsport, and I think that caught up to him later in the race. Becca went next for Elite women and raced really well. Despite the lack of confidence on course she finished 6th after battling for 5th for the first half of the race.
Jamey and I toed the line next. The day started out at 43ºF but by the time we were up it dropped to a bluster 37, so it felt like 30. I was not pumped about my 2nd row call up. At the end of this season I have been bleeding points from last years 4 UCI wins, so this was my first 2nd row start in a while. I didn’t let it bother me though. I came around the outside off the start and managed to insert myself into the top 8.
Jeremy P, Hyde, and Owen got away early. Those guys are on another level right now. Then it was a small group of 3 Page, Trebon, and I going for 4th. Trebon was struggling a bit on the hilly bits so Page and I managed to separate. Trebon was hammer hard on the flats though and kept us in sight. Page and I battled for the whole race. Jamey started to gain on us toward the end and was a big concern for the last two laps.
With 2 to go I was feeling good and ready to make things happen when I flatted a front tire after “heckle hill”. Luckily, I clunked my way to the pits and didn’t lose too much time, maybe 7sec. This, however, was too much to bring back.
Page knew he had to go and hold me for one more lap and he did. Trebon made contact with me on the last lap but then crashed in front of me and I was able to come out of that mess unscathed. Jamie was chasing hard so I was trying to catch Page and hold off Jamey. I only managed to do the later, and finish 5th.
(This is a look of pain, not disgust. I may actually be deciding whether or not I am going to throw up.)
I was extremely excited about my race. It is always good to end the season with your best race of the season. It was also so awesome to put a show on for a lot of friends and my family. It always feels good when you have that little extra bit from the energy people are giving off. I had my pit crew tell me when I was on the opposite side of the course all they could hear were people chanting my name. Thanks everyone who cheered, in general, and came out to the event. It was the best nationals in a while. I am pretty bummed Asheville didn’t get a 2 year bid.
With that said a lot of praise is directed to Tim Hopkins for designing the course. Also, for making sure all the, behind the scenes, things that needed to be done for the weekend to go smoothly got done. In fact, all the volunteers deserve a round of applause.
Something I can take away from this race is that I now have a new perspective on the direction that cross needs to go in the US. We need more courses and venues like the Biltmore. Not necessarily the extravagance and sheer magnitude of the Biltmore estate but a more demanded course. The nationals course was the best course I have ever ridden because it is the hardest course. I think that the Euro’s don’t only have an upper hand on us because the competition is much more dense, but also because the courses are so much more physically and mentally demanding. It isn’t only great to race on but it is also really cool for spectators to watch, which result in the growth of CX. Thanks USAC for getting it right, dead on it.
Another bout of praise is directed at my team for “putting me on their back” all season. The mechanics get the MVP for the year, James, Doug, and Chad. Thanks so much guys. Donn did an incredible job of making sure the team always had what we needed. Meg McMahon is our dedicated team photographer and I don’t know how she does it but she always seems to be in right place at the right time and ready to take an amazing photo. Carly Driscoll, our digital marketing manager and live tweeter, gained the team so much exposure for the team this year. It was really cool to watch our audience grow throughout the year. It made racing that much more exciting to know that people were counting out our coverage for updates.