It’s been a couple of weeks since I last updated the race results. The cross of the north series was fantastic, with two good races over two days, and then some family time with Christa’s grandparents too. Since then, I’ve raced at Valmont here in Boulder, and also two days this last weekend in Broomfield and Longmont. Those races have rekindled some enthusiasm; I haven’t driven more than 25 minutes to a race, I’ve seen a lot of good friends, and I’ve been catching up with work and relaxing on the weekends too. I’m fitting everything in at the moment, and it’s been a nice change to the summer where sometimes I feel like I’m a week behind on life.
The race at Valmont didn’t go very well: I didn’t finish. The start and first half were great. I got into a select lead group with Mitch Hoke and Danny Summerhill, and we pulled out over a minute on the chasers. I wasn’t feeling 100%, but I was happy with the pace. Then I flatted: a sprinkler head right in the middle of a corner put a tiny hole in my tyre, and it popped me from the lead group. It didn’t seal, so I pitted and got on the cannondale. Something happened to my front brake on that bike though, and it made riding impossible. I found out afterwards that the tension spring had popped out of place, leaving me with an unrideable bike. I was so frustrated to DNF. I did everything right, was riding smoothly, and there was a good sized local crowd around too. On top of that, getting on the podium each weekend has been keeping me in groceries, and instead I’d be left empty handed. Altogether, it was not ideal.
I generally kept my frustration quiet after that DNF, but negative feelings have a way of spreading. By the middle of the week, my team had rallied around me, getting me a new set of race wheels to use (Thank you Brandon!) and the back-up of another (identical) pit bike (Thanks Chris Case). I had no excuses coming into this weekend, and it also meant I was confident that the fire I had building up could be put to good use.
The race at Interlocken on Saturday is one of my favourites: heavy grass, leafy off camber corners, and a sand section surrounded by unrideable barriers. I got into the lead group with some very fast riders (who normally race nationally, not locally). I was comfortable following lines, and had no desire to burn any matches before I needed to. Unfortunately I got tangled with Spencer, another local rider, during a remount which left us both chasing. We got back on to the lead group, just for another tangle with Spencer to occur. I was pretty annoyed, as I didn’t instigate either crash, but was left worse off by both. I finished out the race riding in alone for fifth, about a minute back on the winner. I put both crashes down to innocent mistakes in the heat of the race – cross is not an individual sport. It taught me that I need to be the one enforcing my own space when I’m in a group. Anyway, I squeaked onto the podium, which is what matters at the end of the day.
A small note of complaint: Two Without Limits events in a row (Valmont and Interlocken) had sprinkler heads in the middle of corners, and really poor course maintenance (lots of course tape broken and flapping in the wind). It’s lazy course marking. I made a comment to the promoter after Interlocken, but he dismissed me without seeming to acknowledge what I was saying. It’s hard to complain as an athlete.
Day two was at the ‘Colorado famous’ Xilinx course in Longmont. A contrast to the day before: mainly dusty dirt, a long road section, mountain bike like turns and not many obstacles to get in the way. I got the holeshot, which always feels good, but got a little complacent in the first 15 minutes. I was sitting 5th or 6th wheel when Russell Finsterwald attacked, and I ended up chasing 1st and 2nd places for the next 30 minutes. I didn’t get anywhere, and had to settle for third. I felt a little ‘too good’, and I think it made me relax too much. I wasn’t alert, and learned my lesson the hard way. I don’t know whether I could have stuck with Danny Summerhill and Russell to the end, but I don’t need to be giving them any advantages either. I held the gap at 15 seconds for most of the race, and only faded in the last lap. It was a positive result for me, as I know I can do better physically. Also on the plus side, I felt so comfortable on my bike, and had an error free race. A relief after Saturday.
Next weekend: a big old Mountain Bike ride on Saturday, and then the Feedback Sports Cup in Golden on Sunday.