The beginning of November is a tough time for a cross racer. It’s never-ending purgatory; the season stretches out in both directions. I managed to stave off the midseason staleness with some good results. For the past two weekends the fields have been relatively light. Many of the faster riders away racing on the east coast, making it slightly easier to get on the podium. Steve Stefko and I have had a couple good battles in the past weekends, and I’m happy to say I’ve come away triumphant both times.
Blue Sky CX in Longmont was on a new course in the middle of Longmont’s urban sprawl. The course would have been more inspiring had the wind not blown so hard. But the elements are alway a part of cross racing, and it meant that my fast start came to nothing as Stefko reeled me in. We played cat and mouse a couple of times as he tested me at the end of the race, and I bobbled plenty. He couldn’t escape however, and it was left down to a sprint. My worst nightmare. I lead through the final corners and into the finish straight, where I hit it hard enough to open a gap, and cross the line ahead. For my first win of the season, it was great to have it be a proper battle.
The next day was one of my favourite races of the year, Interlocken. Right next to the highway on the way into Boulder, the course hides some fun features between the high-rise office blocks. The field was a little stronger than Saturday, but no Stefko to do battle with. I started well and narrowly avoided a big crash that took down some good riders. After a lap or so I came to the front and managed to pull out a small gap on the chasers. The gap didn’t grow as much as I would have liked though, and I ended up spending most of the race dangling 10-15 seconds ahead of the chase group. It was only in the last few laps that I managed to really string things out and hold on for the second win of the weekend.
I skipped the Feedback Cup this year in favour of a Mountain Bike ride. Although the course in Golden has its positives, I’ve raced it enough that I felt a day in the hills would be better for my mental health. Christa and I had a great ride watching a storm swirl on the high peaks above us.
We then both raced the Lucky Pie Grand Prix in Thornton the next day. On a disused Golf Course, the course was original and fun. I lined up next to Stefko as usual, and it was quickly clear that it would be a battle between just the two of us. I wasn’t feeling good on the big sandy sections of the course, so I felt it would be a good idea to avoid leaving the race to a sprint. When there’s a chance you’re going to make a mistake, it’s better to have a cushion to fall back on than ending up having to close a gap. I kept the pace higher than normal and succeeded a few times in putting Steve onto the ropes, but he kept coming back. We entered the last few turns together once more, and that’s when I did make my mistake. He came around me and accelerated hard, but I had it covered. Not knowing how it would play out, I sucked his wheel. A final sweeping corner decided the race. Steve came in hotter than normal and instantly washed out. I went around him and kept the power down to the end. Another win, but a little disappointment that our hour of tactics didn’t have a clean resolution.
I’m sure there will be plenty more opportunities to race him this year!