Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 Nationals, Hartford

The team, a small group of six this time made the cross country trek to Hartford, Ct. for what promised to be a real winter cyclocross event. The week lived up to the promise in a big way. This is the house where we stayed during the race, the six of us all in the first floor crammed into three rooms ! We economize  when possible-it is bike racing, after all.
 First to arrive and race were Rick Ortenblad and myself. We did the pre-ride on Tuesday in the rain. Th course was very slippery and we both wondered if we would be able to survive the next day's 60-64 race . The next day was sunny and much warmer so the soupy mud of the previous day turned sticky and in spite of a great start from the last row both Rick and I had mechanical issues that slowed us and occasionally stopped us, me for several minutes trying to free a jammed chain. I'll have to fire the mechanic....wait, thats my job ! Rick finished 40th and I came in 53rd.
 Max had arrived so it was time for the first big team meal. Campbell and Brendan arrived and we ate well for the next days would be taxing for racers and support alike.
 Thursday we did not have any of the team racing but Friday we did and we woke up to a very steady snowfall. This was the day of the relay race and Brendan , Campbell, guest riders Ben Gomez-Villefane and Amanda Schaper would hit the course for a four lap contest between about a dozen teams.

 Brendan opened up the race with a strong ride putting the team into second place. Here's Campbell turning on the speed solidifying the second place.
 As you can see the day was snowy and the temperatures were below freezing by a good margin.
 Here's the team on the National podium getting the silver medal, two places better than last year.
 The team celebrating near the starting grid after a medal winning performance. Now we would go home with some hardware for the sixth year in a row..
 Nothing like a big team dinner to celebrate the medals and replenish the calories before the elite and single speed races.
 Both Campbell and Max Judelson had front row starting positions so we had high hopes for more medals or at least top-ten finishes in the men's and women's single speed events. The conditions were changing from hour to hour and as the races went on the course got slippery and the lapped traffic was an issue. Max got tangled up with a lapped rider and crashed hard while in the top-5. He eventually finished 7th which will give him a first row start in next years single speed race. Campbell Steers rode in the top-5 for along time but crashes slowed her in the final laps but she held on for 7th and another front row call up at the next nationals.Brendan Lehman had to start near the back of the 148 man field and did his best to move up. He had a crazy fast first two laps and was probably up to the top-35 when the traffic and icy conditions took their toll. He would eventually finish 44th after passing over 80 riders, a super human feat.
 Nor-Cal representing !
 Max, out suffering in the frozen conditions.  the next day would be even colder.
 Sunday morning we loaded up the rented mini-van for the last day-the elite races. We had Campbell in the women's race and Andrew Juiliano with Max Judelson in the men's race. Brendan and I would be working support in the pit.
 Andrew was hoping to improve on last year's 25th place and Max just wanted to survive after getting pretty banged up the day before in the single speed race.
 The start was murderously fast and both Max and Andrew had starting positions pretty far back. Both riders did well to move up as the race went on. There were many crashes and lots of mayhem during the race as nearly 50 riders worked frantically to try to not get too far back and get pulled before the last lap. Max was doing much better than last year but the fast pace of the leader meant that he and many other riders were pulled with a few laps to go. Max would get 29th.
Andrew was able to survive a bit longer and moved up into the top-15 for a time, eventually getting pulled with a lap to go. He would get 18th and have his best nationals finish to date. Both riders greatly improved over last year and although this time they did not make it to the finish before getting pulled, neither did 3/4 of the field. It was that fast. All in all, with a smaller crew and difficult conditions I would consider this trip a great success-medals coming home, two top-ten single speed finishes and nobody DNF'd.  The team was great.