A little behind in the blog posts, so I am going to try for catch up. I went out to the USGP in Ft. Collins, CO two weeks ago. Not much racing was happening here and I wanted to get some points for Nationals. At Nationals they line you up in the start grid based on the amount of points you get during the season. Now don’t ask me how this all works. I have read US Cycling’s explanation of it several times and I think I could explain cold fusion better. The gist is that you have to do well in races where there are people who are rated better than you and these said races have to be US Cycling affiliated. Most of the races in NorCal are not affiliated with US Cycling, so even though I am racing against 4 current or former national champions and a world champion each week, it doesn’t count. Not a great system.
The US Grand Prix of Cyclocross does count though. They put on quite a show. Great courses, lots of fans, food and of course beer. I decided to enter 4 races in order to get my money’s worth. I planned on doing the 2/3 race and the Master’s race both days. I really had no idea what I was doing and as a coach I would have never recommended this to a client. So why was I doing this? Because I am crazy? Oh yeah, for fun!
The first race was the 2/3 race on Saturday. I got the great call up – second to the last row. Oh well, time to start practicing my passing skills. It had rained a little the night before so the ground was a little damp but dusty underneath. The course ran down this hillside, going back and forth, up and down. Lots of elevation and being at elevation it really hurt. I only managed to get crashed into 3 times on the first lap. And after pushing myself into the pain cave I ended up 37th out of 80 or so riders. Not bad. Best thing about these races is you get your lap times and mine were consistent with the Top 20 riders, so if I would have started up front…Hmmmmm There is that start position I talked about in the last blog.
Next race was the exact opposite. It started to rain really hard and by the time the Master’s went off the course was totally different. I decided to keep warm in the car instead of riding a warm up lap and that cost me. Traveling with just one bike and no entourage of gear makes you decide to do some silly stuff. Because of my “no pre-ride” I went to the line with my tires pumped waaaay to high. I realized my mistake when I saw Greg Keller (Local Boulder hardman) in front of me and his rims were almost touching the ground when he sat on his bike. I asked him after what he was running and it was like 24 and 22 psi. I was embarrassed to say that I was about 10 psi higher. He went to touch my tires to check and I wanted to just ride away.
So after about 4 crashes, a twisted shifter and a bruised ego, I headed out of there with my tail between my legs. This guy however, won the race and started about 7 rows back. Then again, he is the reigning master’s world champion.
The next day I just ended up doing more of the same thing in the 2/3 race. I was tired. the course was tacky and fast, but I just didn’t have it. Then I realized that I wouldn’t make my flight if I did the Master’s race, so I packed up and took off. Nice planning on my part. Greatest thing about the USGP had to be the WD 40 bike wash station. These guys basically took my bike, cleaned the whole thing and prepped it for the flight home. Now that is pro. Thanks to Brian Dallas the his whole crew. Well, maybe the there was something better – waffle with banana and Nutella. Yum!
Bottom line… unless you are pro, have a whole support staff or are rich – traveling and racing your bike can be difficult. You have jet lag, elevation, crappy hotels, rolling bikes in airports, coach leg room, bad food, no food, bad start position, no trainer, no tent….it’s a long list of excuses. Feel free to use any of them when you don’t do well in a race. I’m going to. BTW…I didn’t get many points for Nationals and now it doesn’t look like I am going, but who wants to race in Madison in January? Brrr….