Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cincinnati 3 Day UCI Cross Festival

How do you sum up a weekend of racing three UCI races in a row? In three words, hot, fast and fun!

Friday's Darkhorse Cyclostampede had a condensed and afternoon schedule putting us on the line at 5 PM. Regardless of the big races on the East Coast, the competition this weekend was stiff, Wicks, Powers, Parbo, Wells, Baker. The list goes on.

The course was super bumpy and dry, which made the tight corners pretty technical and a lap that had little room for recovery. I made a total rookie mistake on the line and started in the little ring, watching the pack ride away. I made a quick recovery and found myself riding in the mid teens.

With two to go I needed to make a move around a rider. He was slowing a little and two or three riders behind us were trying to catch us. As the first rider finished working to catch us, I stood on the pedals and worked to gap them. I pushed to hold off one final rider and a hard effort to the line. I finished the race strong, happy that I was able to put such a strong effort in late in the race. I finished 23rd of 44.

Saturday's 85 degree race did not go quite as well as Fridays' race did. There was a pile up right off the start line. When you are standing on the pedals, pushing as hard as possible, and the guy in front of you goes down, you are pretty guaranteed are run in. I spent the first two laps pushing hard to race back into the group I am used to being in. The problem was, my chase group contained guys slated for the top ten, and they were pushing their pace. Too fast for me, as with four laps to go I broke down. Riders passed me like I was standing still.

Mid way through two to go, Powers past me and that was it. I had two riders catching me and I pushed what little was left into my legs through the remainder of the lap to take 33rd one lap down.

Sunday topped out at 86 degrees near the start of race time. Two days of racing were starting to take its toll, but the final course of the weekend was amazing. And with a few more places being awarded points the pressure was on. I needed to race smart, strong and within my limits.

I had a great start, everything went right and I was positioned in a group that spanned 16th to 25th or so. This was exactly where I wanted to be. Riding those first few corners shoulder to shoulder is such a rush, and for just a short while you are actually racing right there with the best. I used my skills to make up some time in the sand and technical sections, and hung on for dear life through the open grass.

With four laps to go, as riders were imploding all over the course from the heat, I followed suit and my body shut down. I slipped back a handful of positions as riders flew around me, and I got pulled with one to go. Finished 32nd out of more than 60 racers.

I can't wait for some real cross weather and the rest of the season!

(Photos: Naz Hamid)

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