Nats, Altitude and Hay Pits

How excited I was when I heard months ago that Nationals for cyclocross in 2018 was awarded to Reno.  Drive to a Nationals?  Home court advantage, yes!   Drive to the race.  No flying, breaking bikes down, hurting my arms dragging said bikes through airport, rental cars that don’t fit the bikes…you get it.  Winner! I can’t wait.  In the meantime, the organizing committee is putting together some racing in the park where Nats will be held.  Sort of a practice run.  Very smart, after last years debacle in Austin.  Granted this race was in September and not in January, but at least it is something.

Now Reno is a long drive for just one race, but I want to support this organization and all that they are doing.  Rancho San Rafael Park is an easy venue to get to, very close to the main freeway running through northern Reno.  The venue is huge with lots of parking, plenty of places to set up and very centrally located to everything in Reno.  I set up the CX Nation tent on the grassy area and went out to check on the course.  Granted this is trial run and some things might change, but the course was well set up and had lots of tough obstacles.  Pro rider Teal Stetson-Lee of Scott Racing is the main hancho (or is it honchette?) and the mad creator of this course.

The course begins with a long and wide packed dirt start/finishing stretch.  The dirt was a little bumpy and slightly uphill.  A box scraper might make this a little better start and reduce the bumps.  I felt like I was on a mini pump track.  From there it’s into a small bark section and then into the grass, which is all uphill.  The grass puts you into a sand pit which was made unrideable by all with two sharp turns.  Then it’s downhill and into the Hay Pit, which at first I felt was a little dangerous.  It is basically a trough of hay with two planks that stretch across it.  You can ride the planks, bunny hop the barriers holding the hay in or dismount and run.  Of course it is fastest to ride the planks, but being my conservative self, I just dismounted.  After that it was into a very steep flyover, through some trees and to the back side of the course.  On the backside the main feature was a huge loose dirt run up, then down a loose, tricky off camber downhill.  So what I am saying, it was “loose”.  Back to the front side and over some double barriers to the finish.  Whew…  Oh, and did I mention that it is at altitude.  I believe a few thousand few at least.  Dry and dusty too.  No biggie….

In my race I started out well and got the hole shot.  From there is was all downhill.  I just didn’t have the power and felt like the altitude was really hurting me.  I just couldn’t get into a rhythm and get going.  Field sizes were small and I ended up 7th…out of 7.  Doh!  Sage fared a little better in 4th, after washing out on a turn and losing 2nd.  Our new local Jonathan Baker, ex pro, took the “W”.  Gotta beat that guy this year.  Nats here we come….


Back side, sketchy downhill.  Looks like I am walking

Sage 2 Reno 2015

Sage out of the hay pit. He chose to run also.

Brian 2 Reno 2015

Double barriers on an uphill.  No rest for the weary.

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