Monday, November 03, 2008

Crank Brothers USGP Round One and Two

Sorry it is just a little late. Day One: When we finally left the hotel room after a late nite arrival, we learned the course was 500 feet outside our door. This was rad. We all walked over to the course, I picked up my numbers and I was number 20! The course was super fun and fast with four sand pits, a railroad tie run up and the infamous green monster fly over.

With all the PRO racers converging on one venue for the race weekend I was rightfully expecting some super fast and aggressive racing. The start straight was called the "wholeshot of death" and that was because after the flat pavement straight it made a left hook and the course quickly narrowed. If I thought my start on Sunday in Cincinnati was good, my start on this first day at the USGP was great. I followed Trebons' wheel into that first turn. I was off the pavement well in the top twenty surrounded by guys I am very unfamiliar racing with. It did not last long and things shuffled and settled in, but for that few hundred feet, it was pretty damn cool to be right in the thick of it.

I really focused on riding a consistent race. And it showed. With every pass of the pit Sam was calling out 26th to me and I was riding in the same group for the first four or five laps. Then the group started to fall apart and I was riding to hold my position. With some familiar riders in front of me I kept on the gas trying to catch them. With the lap cards coming down, I could see that a few riders in front of me were slowing down and I was riding with a couple new riders. I was trading pulls with Will from the Richard Sachs team and felt pretty good to be riding with him. We were representing the two best cross frame builders in the matter of a few feet. So with two to go, I turned it on as best I could. Not a whole lot changed in the standings, but it felt really good to push the pace again at the end of the race instead of slowing down.

I crossed the line well on the lead lap at 24th. There were 56 starters, so I felt really good to finish in the top half, in the money and without having blown up at 40 minutes. It left me excited to race again the following day and maybe pick off a few guys who may have gotten tired from today.

Day 2: The course for the second day of the Louisville USGP was much the same as the first. Hours turned into minutes after a bunch of warm up laps, it was go time.

The second day always seems a little bit more relaxed. But after a not so stellar starting position forcing me towards the fence I had to back off the pedals breifly. That couple seconds was all it took for much of the field to surge ahead. Not the end of the world, as I was probably in the top half.

I was not being aggressive enough through the first half of a lap and it cost me. By the time we were passing the pit for the first time, I was riding at about 32nd. A couple of bad moves later and I was even further behind. It was time to put some of those guys behind me, so I set up to make a pass through the barriers. We all rode into them hot, and where the guys in front of me slowed a little stepping through, I didn't let up, hoping for a hole and an opportunity to slip through. That hole never appeared and I ran into the back of another rider. I tripped and hit the ground hard. Next thing I saw was the blue sky, and I had that panic... was I hurt? My bike? The other rider? I stayed down for a second and then everyone started yelling at me. "Get up! Go get them!" By their call everything was ok, so I got myself together the best I could and pressed on.

As I hit the ground one of the cantilevers released, spun on its' axis and was rubbing the rim. The design of Paul Components brakes is brilliant. Where other brakes probably would have broken completely and more than likely damaged the brake mounts in the fork, Paul designs the springs in his brakes to release when they are forced the wrong way. I babied myself and the bike the short distance to the pit. Switched with Sam again and rode out of the pit with Adam McGrath. I was pretty convinced my race was over at this point, but Adam was wearing the U23 leaders jersey. I turned around and told him that I wasn't sure how long I could go, but that I'd help him out and to tuck in behind me. It turned out he was having an even worse day than me and was not able to hold on for long.

So, I am sitting in no mans land in 36th place. But the more I rode, the more I loosened up and felt good on the bike. The course was still a super fun time to ride and there were so many sections that were meant to be railed. With five to go I started catching guys. I stayed on the pedals and kept pushing. The laps kept coming down and I was still slowly getting around riders. I finished strong and rode the remainder of the race after the crash pretty smoothly. So again, I finished on the lead lap and in 26th place. Not as good as I had hoped, but I am pretty confident had I not crashed like an idiot, I could have been more in the range of 22nd.

It was a super fun weekend. And it felt great to finish strong in such a fast field. Photo by: Amanda.

1 comment:

liquidwrench said...

Sick Ben! Now you're getting it!