Thursday, October 23, 2008

ChiCrossCup: Taking on the Local Crowd in the Windy City

It was strange to roll up to the line and feel like a marked man. This was the first local Chicago race I had made it too this year and the first time I would be racing against some of the local fast guys. It quickly shaped up to be a great day so I wasn’t worried.

At the start, as much as I didn't want to, I took the hole shot-- those UCI starts just get under your skin and stick with you. I lead out the first half of lap, then traded pulls with Scott from the SRAM factory team a few times. After a lap or so, Scott asked me to pull for real, as if he sensed I was not totally on the gas and we were making a gap on the rest of the field, so I turned it on a little. Though the second lap, he was falling off my wheel through the corners. I had intended to try to work with him, but later I'd learn I was putting time into him on the barriers and through the sand and he was pushing too hard to close the gap after them.

So with two of ten laps down I settled into a solid pace, riding alone off the front. And it was super solid. I managed to make the gap bigger with each lap, topping out at about 30 seconds on second place. The cover band was playing welcome to the jungle by G'n'R and I was loving the course. With 4 to go, I was at the point where I normally was loosing speed and fitness, instead feeling incredible. I was passing lapped traffic and everything was going great.

Then with three to go disaster struck. I washed out in a corner and a lapped rider who was riding my wheel ran over my back end and slashed the sidewall of the tire in the process. I had a good lead on second place at this point so I rode the flat into the pit and grabbed the "B" bike.

Disaster number two. I had not pumped up the tires in the "B" bike before the race. So what would have been my ride to a win, was a ride on two practically flat tires. I will never make that mistake again. Julie was on the backside of the course and I told her what was wrong so she went to the pit to find a solution. A new friend lent her his rear wheel and my bike was ready for me the next time around. That saved my race and gave me a chance to catch Scott, who had slipped by me. I grabbed the bike change with one to go and a 20 second gap to close to take back the lead. I laid it all down. Half way though the final lap, I had 10 seconds to close and at the line he had beaten me by five seconds.

Either way, the course and race was fantastic. It was such a great day. I am super happy with how I rode. It felt great to ride that last lap and make up ground on Scott. To know I still had that effort in the tank. This weekend, racing with all the big boys at the first round of the USGP in Louisville Kentucky.
Photo by: Amy

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