Doug made it with our new old truck, a Big ol’ 89’ Dodge Ram W250 5.9L Cummings Turbo Diesel. She is too old to have overdrive so on the way up from NC Doug was driving between 60-65, which was maxed. While this isn’t ideal for getting places in the predicted goggle maps arrival time, it is good for gas milage. Doug got 19mpg on the way up pulling a trailer!
Thursday morning I put a Pa tag on her and we headed north to Victor, Ny to meet our gracious host housing family. Cory Kuhns and Marnie were great hosts all weekend and even raced themselves so it was cool to see them out and about at the venue too, and hear them cheering for me. I needed it.
Welcoming late product sponsor, Werner’s Mustard!
Friday Doug and I spent the morning equipment shopping; outfitting the trailer with proper goods from Home depot, auto zone, and purchasing a variety of coffee paraphernalia. Then it was over to the course to set up for our first CX venue spot.
I got on course to dial in my bikes to precision exactness and get a feel for how the race would play out. There was not a ton of elevation change on course so the race was likely to be very fast and tactically oriented, which turned out to be the case.
After the course spin I checked out the bike path network along the Erie Canal.
Doug and I wrapped up at the venue and got back home to make some Chicken Tika Masala! This is the best thing about host housing in my opinion; not having to go out to eat all the time and just relaxing at “home” before a race puts me in a good mental spot. Plus, the fact that it isn’t a hotel room is nice for too many reasons to count.
Saturday morning was pancake, spin, relax, head to course for pre ride. Typical race day jaunt. I got back into the swing of things real quick, in fact, it felt like there wasn’t much of a break between last cross season. Maybe that is just because I was so excited for the new season to start.
The women went first at 2:20 and gave us a good idea of how the race would go. There was a lot of group racing out there with only big power sections to create gaps. Not a lot of technical sections meant paying attention to who was going hard and where and gauging your efforts for later in the race.
I had a second row start but quickly found myself at the front after the gun. I even felt good enough to pull through on lap two. However, then disaster struck. I pulled off to settle into the huge front group and gradually found myself floating further and further back through the field. By the last lap I was fighting for 13th with Travis Livermon and Justin Lindine when the anchor let loose and my legs could barely turn the pedals! I knew I started hard but not that hard. I mean I felt pretty comfortable and wasn’t feeling gassed, then all of a sudden the lights went out.
I went from 15th to 19th in the last half lap of the race and crossed the line wondering what the hell happened. Later I looked at some heart rate data and talked with Jim Lehman about how I felt. We decided it was a bout of heat exhaustion. So the game plan was hydration and a focus on redemption for Day 2 in the cooler temps. We got Froyo on the way home specifically to lower my core temp. It was basically a healing endeavor and it would have been stupid not to.
It was almost chilly on Sunday morning and I was pumped about this. While I usually do well in the heat, I guess racing cross in the heat is a bit different. Again, I found myself in the front group feeling comfortable off the start. This time I stayed there though. With three to go I found myself charging to the front and trying to create some gaps. With J Pow and Hyde sitting in up until this point I should have played it a little smarter. That effort may not have hurt me too much in relation to the race up to that point but on the last lap when Powers and Hyde started trading blows I was digging deep and dangling.
I game in 7th 15 seconds down from the win, disappointed in my lack of strategy and over exuberance of brawn at the end of the race. It could have been the difference between a top five and simply finishing off the back of the front group. However, I was happy that Saturday was a fluke and Sunday proved I had the legs and fitness I should have.
I am coming out of the weekend confident in my fitness and equipment heading into Madison next weekend. There are rumors of some Euro’s coming over to race the Trek CXC Cup as a tune up before Vegas World Cup. The C2 is Saturday and the C1 Sunday, which is a different scheduling dynamic. It will be interesting to see who skips Saturday for fresh legs Sunday and to limit the racing over the next seven days. With Trek CXC Cup Saturday and Sunday, Vegas Wednesday, and Jingle World Cup Saturday and C1 Sunday that is 5 races in 7 days. Then two consecutive race weekends, Providence and Charm City, follows until a weekend off. For me… I am going all in! I feel like I have the fitness, health, and a good attitude to minimize stress. Plus, the team situation right now is great. Doug and I are a small operation, dealing with only each other so it’s easy to make changes to accommodate a less stressful environment.
With the first weekend in the books I am extremely happy with the support from all the sponsors. Extremely thankful to Kona for helping me move this program forward and trusting in me to make it work and get results. I can’t wait to attack the rest of the season.
P.S. stay tuned for photos throughout the season as I am working with Meg McMahon again and I absolutely love her shots. All of the photos in this post are from her or my iPhone. I am sure you will be able to tell…