27 Sep Planet Bike USGP 2010
Planet Bike USGP of Cyclocross, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Sunday Sept 26th: This was day two, round one, of the USGP Cyclocross series in Sun Prairie Wisconsin.
Many Thanks to Bob Downs and Planet Bike for their high level of commitment to the discipline of CX, bringing us this great event with two fantastic CX courses. It is a real treat being able to watch the best CX racers in the country go head to head. I hope the CCC will take a page out of the UCI/USGP course book making our series tracks more like the Sun Prairie courses. Less twisty turny adding more uniformity and balance, which would help everyone in the Chicago area become better cross racers.
I missed the Saturday race because of watching my youngest daughter, Rachel race a 3 mile CC race instead, or I would have race both days. Turns out I made the correct choice given the outcome of both events. Rachel had a great race coming off a cold and a down week, besides I love to watch her run races.
I arrive 2 hours before my start time, roll over to registration and pick up my number which is 5. I am thinking bonus, front row on the grid, could be a good day. Seeing the course is open I decide to take a lap in my street cloths and slide out on an off camber turn going slow, laughing I stop and let some air out of my tires, nice form. I am pleased to find the course similar to last years Sunday layout with the steep hill in play with a difficult dismount forcing you to run up the wall, which is good for the old guy, kind of like sprinting for a puck in the corner. Doing my warm up I did not feel good or bad, this left me feeling slightly unsure about what kind of day I would have, but that is something I cannot control so off to staging. Front row banter is loud and clear with Mike McShane, the 2009 series champion, telling yesterday’s winner Tom Price that he should watch out for me. I laugh reminding Mike that Tom rides with Tilford, with Tom responding usually not for very long, we all laugh. I make sure my bike is in a medium gear for a fast hole shot and we get the 30 seconds warning, the gun sounds and we are off. It takes me a second to nail my cleat sitting about 8th place when we hit the dirt with a ton of speed. I quickly slide up a few spots to 5th and decide to sit in this spot watching how the pace goes. Tom Price is at the front drilling it with McShane not hold the wheel very well, having to close little 1 second gaps here and there. I do not like this since Price could slip away if Mike is not careful. Sure enough end of the first lap Price has a 5 second gap so I quickly bridge on the road section, alone! So here it is, a 2 man break within the start of lap two, as I decide to watch Tom’s lines and see where he is fastest, and weak. He pulls for the entire lap holding a really nice/fast pace, nothing that is hurting me, but we are opening the gap, maybe 15-20 seconds. I slide to the front to help keep the pace, though taking a soft pull which Tom is not fond of, he moves to the front again and starts to up the pace trying to drop me. My mind is saying confidently, no way dude you’re not dropping me, realizing I am on a good day. Middle of lap 3 and I notice his pedal stroke is starting to show signs of laboring and in the gravel transition section he goes down. Just sliding by on his left I am entering the fast power section of the course and go full gas for the remainder of the lap and as I pass the lap counter I have 4 to go. I check my gap when I have a chance seeing it is about 20 seconds, I decide to soften for a lap. 3 to go and I see 1 guy trying to bridge. It is Troy Karuse from Nebraska who finished 2nd last year in this same event, so I keep a close eye on the gap letting him get a little closer, maybe 10 seconds. Now he has taken the hook, with 2 laps to go I go full gas for half a lap opening the gap again, I know he is feeling a little confidence when he closes so my game is to crack him mentally, with my plan of the fastest lap of the race being my last which works, I opened the gap back to 13-15 seconds on the last lap giving myself enough time to enjoy the victory salute crossing the finish line solo.
I am quite please since the main chasers were all just 45 or 46, with Tom Price making the podium in the 2009, 45-49 National CX Championships in Bend. Not a bad day for the old guy, I am sure that Enzo’s ButtonHole Chamois Cream keeping my bottom comfortable is a contributing factor when hunting for the podium.
Next post, The new team merger is finalized with an official announcement coming soon.