This first December CX nationals in a few years would see a rotating cast of characters- there would be 6 days of racing so people came and went depending on when they would be racing. Three of us arrived on Monday late afternoon- upon landing we found out that the number pick up was at an airport hotel so before we even got to our rental house we went to pick up our numbers. Across the street was a bowling alley that advertised :" $1.00 bowling on Monday." - We would return.
Eric Brown, Kathleen Bortolussi, Brendan Lehman and I went to the course next day to pre-ride. It was very cold in the morning and much of the ground was covered in frost. There was very little mud and nearly all of the course was rideable. This would change dramatically by the afternoon. Kathleen decided to do the non-championship race to get to know the course in advance of her Thursday age-group race. She wound up crashing many times as the course had gotten very slippery after the frost melted. This, too would change over the rest of the week in a very big way.
Usually we have big team dinners at the nationals but with only four people there was more than enough food to go around- a customary pasta a la Amatriciana for the night before the first championship day. Eric, Brendan and I would race in age group races on Wednesday.
Eric and Brendan would go first in the 30-34 age group- both of them got good starts with Brendan coming by the pits in 4th and Eric in the top-10. Brendan would have bad luck with a fall and a mechanical . He would have a 1/4 lap run and fade to next-to-last. He was able to pit and ride back up to 13th with Eric finishing 12th. It might not have been quite the result that either of them wanted but it was enough to get a good feel for the course .
Next up was my race and starting in the back of 69 riders really took the pressure off of me. I knew that I had nowhere to go but forward - I managed 54th after a coupe of falls. Eric and Brendan did stellar work for me in the pit- I wish I had taken more help than I did taking only one bike change. Even on Wednesday the bikes were really loading up with mud and grass. This would get worse as the week went on after Thursday.