Saturday, December 22, 2018

Nationals-part 2

After Wednesday the crowds got larger and the women's master fields  were on the course . Katheen got another chance at the course but now it was drier and faster as she was racing in the late afternoon. With the very last call-up she would have to pass a lot of riders to get into the top-15. This she did , riding a clean race and finishing 12th.
 The next day was all about the men's master fields and the collegiate races. Kailin Waterman had one of the last call-ups in the 75 man 40-44 age group field and rode to 30th place. Alex Work rode from about 79th to 23rd place out of 111 riders in the mens 45-49 race.
 Noah Hayes rode for UC Santa Barbara in the collegiate sport race- for some reason the USAC did not publish the results from this race but Noah rode well.
 Saturday was all about juniors and single speeds . We had only one junior making the long trip to Kentucky but he would prove to be a great representative for the team. Dan English had to start on the 8th row of the 13-14 age group race. There were 91 kids in the field- Dan was in 10th place in the first half lap. He wound up finishing 6th- this might be considered the ride of the week for the team. I asked Dan how he managed to pass about 50 riders in the first 5 minutes......he didn't really have an answer. It was amazing to watch.
 In the single speed mens race we had 4 riders: Kailin Waterman, Brendan Lehman , Alex Work and Max Judelson. The rain was falling and the course was deteriorating rapidly. Much of the lap was now unrideable.
Max got to start in front with Brendan on row 3, Alex in row 8 and Kailin in row 22. That's right...there were 170 odd riders in this race. From the gun Max was in the lead and he held it for the first 3 laps - first by himself and then with Justin Robinson. The two looked to have an unassailable lead but gear troubles for Justin and some crashes for Max saw their lead shrink. Brendan raced up to about 15th but the mud was thick and the rim brake bikes got so heavy with mud that they became nearly unrideable. On the start line Alex got taken out in a crash. Brendan seeing Alex on the side of the course yelled: "I need your bike !". Alex ran to the pit and we began washing bikes for Brendan. Kailin came into the pit and said that he wanted his bike to be available for Max- now Alex and I were pitting for two riders. This really helped both Brendan and Max to finish- I really wish that we had extra bikes from the start as this could have had really helped both Max and Brendan to get better results. That said, there's no doubt that they both left everything on the course riding as hard as possible. This is what everyone on the team did- nobody held back.
Alex and Kailin donating the use of their bikes to Max and Brendan was an illustration of what makes this such a great team. When things get critical people on this team really step up. Max finished 6th and Brendan 30th.
 Sunday was the last day in the event and the rain had stopped. This would make the mud thicker and make the bikes clog faster- the work in the pit would get very intense , having to give the riders a fresh bike every half lap. This would prove difficult as the line for the bike washers would get long - some times a rider would come into the pit only to find that his replacement bike was not cleaned yet.
First to go off was the U-23 field with Noah Hayes . He nearly finished on the lead lap winding up 32nd. He was changing bikes every half lap, using my bike as his second.
 In the women's elite field it was all about Caroline Nolan who has been having a career season this year. With a second row starting position she had a fair chance at seeing the front of the race but the mud and a couple of mechanicals made the going rough. She was unstoppable, though- clearly not having a good time she still fought on the finish 20th, on the lead lap with most of the 46 women not making the cut. It was a gutsy ride.
The men's elite race was the final event of the week. The course had been re-routed to give the riders less deep mud and more turf to ride on but the bikes were still getting clogged with the thick peanut-butter like mud. With two riders in the field we were very busy in the pit. Max Judelson had a third row start but Brendan Lehman was near the back of the 46 man field. The mud, the craziness in the pit and the caliber of the leaders made it so that only 20 riders finished on the lead lap with only 10 more finishing a lap down. Max finished 32nd while Brendan finished 42nd. It was epic conditions and some of the most difficult racing conditions I have ever seen .

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