State CX weekend-
First off, go check out almanzo.com for my review of the Banjo Brother's commuter backpack and a few other new updates. I'll take some pictures of my winter rig sometime soon and post them up here or there with information with the idea being as a sort of "one man's" ideas for what might work on January 29th...
Pictures (My Mom and Tim Werts took these- they are all of me, of course?)
This weekend was the State CX Championships and we finally had the kind of weather that should accompany all cyclocross races. Some people were saying the conditions were "epic" or crazy or whatever, but really it just seemed about right. The courses were always rideable and the snow added some legitimacy and beauty to the scene more than anything else.
Saturday was the championship day. My warm-up went well and my staging was good enough. I would have been able to get the holeshot if I had needed to from the 3rd row. Of course, at this point my first 30 seconds is better than my next 45 minutes and I didn't quite push it that hard. I found myself running in 3rd, and soon 4th in a bit of a fight with Ronald Williams for the spot. Mitch Nordahl, Kesha Zavyalov and Charlie Simacek were significantly getting away from the beginning. Considering that 5 weeks ago I would have likely finished 40th-50th in this field of 61 riders... (I was almost 5 minutes behind Fred Mills in that first race back in Marine on St. Croix). I was feeling good, but wanted to make sure I wasn't working too hard too early. I dialed it back a bit and dropped to 5th and then 6th. I knew if I held my effort as it was going I would be having a race I would be very proud of. Somehow I then worked my way back to 4th! At that point Fred Mills had switched bikes and dropped back to me (he is definitely faster) and I was able to grab his wheel for a while. At that moment I knew that if I held his wheel and just rode mistake free that I'd be getting an awesome free ride to a great finish. I'm not sure if we were pulling closer to the lead or not, but we were definitely dropping the 3 man chase group with Brandom Manske, Dan Wheeler and Martin Rudnick behind us. I remember noticing that they had 3 people all together and being grateful for Fred. After a lap of that goodness almost simultaneously I tripped over a barrier and splatted right on my face, the group of 4 caught me, I killed myself and pulled them up to Fred, I touched his wheel and almost fell but did miss a key shift and that entire group of 4 then rode away. I was left to hustle hard to hold off Matt Leizinger and Justin Reinhart to finish 9th. All in all it was a very solid finish for me and a really enjoyable race. Congratulations to Mitch Nordahl for the win! I'd write about how things shook down up there if I had any idea.
Sunday was much the same. The big differences were that I felt freer to attack (absolutely nothing to lose) and as such I did take the holeshot and try to make something of it and that my "big mistake" possibly cost me even more. This time I fell just before starting the final lap and my chain popped off, but I didn't figure it out right away and hopped back on. In the end it cost me 0 or maybe 4 spots depending as I'd been in a group of 4 at the time. Today I added a n-gear jumpstop to my bike. I was able to install it in a manner which works well with the front derailleur and should prevent such an issue from occuring again at Jinglecross or in the future.
Overall, I'm very happy with my progress in cyclocross over the last 6 weeks. I hope I have time next year for the full season. This may be the one discipline of cycling that I really do "full-time" while it's on in the future. It's definitely worth it fun wise and I can really see the benefit of doing more of the races. It also can't be beat that spectators can actually come out and SEE the race.
Wish me luck at Jinglecross- I'll be starting on the front row and riding as aggressively as I can.
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