16 Nov USGP Louisville 45+ Race Report
I am finally recovered from the long weekend, working the USGP expo, racing both days (bonus) and spending Sunday evening in Indianapolis visiting our oldest daughter Nicole. Heidi and I arrive at the course about 2:00 Friday as I start looking for Joe who will tell us where to set up the tents for the weekend. It takes me a while to locate him since he is also in charge of setting the course, which is not yet complete. After Joe gives us the tent location, it is time to pre-ride this year’s course, seeing what changes await. It felt good to be on my bike after sitting in the car for 6 hours.
The most noticeable change/challenge this year is rough terrain, stopping to reduce more air from my tires. The ground is dry and quite hard, combined with many bumps, it is clear this is a big man’s course. The same reason big men do better on the cobbles; little guys like me are not able to keep our bikes connected to the earth’s surface at a high rate of speed. I feel like a skipping stone bouncing on the water’s surface. All in all I love the layout, it has all the requirements of a true CX test. Technical turns at speed, tight turns in the woods, steep power sapping walls, very rough fast power sections, 3 sand pits per lap, and a 150m pavement, sprinting section, to the finish. After an hour of this I know what tire pressure I will run if the conditions continue to be dry. I return to the car thinking about food, drink my post ride drink, change heat toward town for some eats.
Heidi and I spoke to a few people about a good place to eat, since I still have not found a great dinner restaurant in this town. We are told there is a relatively new Italian joint call MOZZ’s and decide this will be our trough for the evening. Good call, because this was one of the best Italian restaurants we have eaten at, ever. Heidi orders the lasagna and I the spaghetti with meat balls. Great flavor combined with huge portions. Good thing we walked 12 blocks from the Galt house where we parked the car. I do not know if I could have driven being so stuffed. Dave Towle saw Heidi’s left over’s on Saturday, he said, that could feed a small village, laughing because it was not a joke, the left over’s were HUGE.
Arriving at the expo early, 6:40am Saturday, Heidi, Rob Curtis(PSIMET) and I unload the two cars, setting up both tents. The wind was quite strong 20-25 mph already, which was somewhat of a challenge. After nailing down everything Rob makes a good call skipping his race, due to lack of sleep during the entire week. The people looking for free Embro apps were few given the warm temps, high 50’s at 8:00.
The 45+ race will start at 10:20 so I slowly start getting ready. This works well being able to pre-ride the course 1 lap in between races. I am not feeling great and start riding on the trainer, as to loosen up the old body. 10:00 I head to the staging area not wanting to miss my call up, being bib # 7, front row, sweet. The official talks for a minute and says 1 minute, then 30 seconds, then the gun and we are off. I miss my pedal 2 times but do not panic, now being about 15th I see my opening on the left along the barrier fence, filling the hole while on the gas. When we make the left onto the grass I am on Mike McShanes wheel 5th position. This is good since Mike is the current 45+USGP Series leader, clearly a good wheel to have. At the first set of barriers the burning lung sensation begins though the pace remains high. I am not feeling great though not bad. I am good for 1.5 laps when John Card passes me going to the front of our group, the top six. Next thing the speed increases and I am not able to respond, I am watching the lead group of 4 slowly rolling away. This is frustrating, unfortunately the correct thing to do. Recovering over the next lap we pick up a few more riders, increasing the size of the chase group. I am able to increase the speed slightly and drop all but 1 person from this new group. This is how the race plays out though I give up the lead on the run up, slipped pedal and lose the sprint for 5th by half a wheel. Not feeling great about this race. I congratulate John Card for the W and his great ride, and then head back to the tent, to cool down on the trainer for a while.
The rest of the day goes well; we talk to many people about Enzo’s products, and seeing a number of friends from the area also. We wrap up the day and take Rob to Mozz’s for another test of this new menu, which did not disappoint.
Day two the pre race prep was similar and I head to staging about 10:00, though I did feel better during my warm up. The group receives the 30 seconds to go, then the gun. I nail my pedal adding gears until I am in the 11 and spun out. Tim Butler and I are exchanging blows for the hole shot as I hit the grass first. I stay on the gas to the barriers then give up the lead moving backwards to about 7th place. My lack of racing at this level in 2011 is glaring, since I really needed to be more chilled at the start. There was no reason to take the hole shot and my lap times show this. My first lap was my slowest of the day with my second lap being the fastest of the entire race, faster than John Card’s. This is why I am in Louisville, testing the National level waters, a great reminder that racing is not about emotion, it is a chess match. Today I lost my match by being stupid, this will not happen again, at least during this CX season.
Anyway, at the end of lap 3, I bridge up to the Mike McShane group, which is 4th, 5th, and 6th, I instantly attack them hard. Mike is the only one that responds and we are now a group of two. He attacks me going into the technical section gaining 2 seconds, then 3. I have never been a great bike handler, good but not great. Now I check behind only to see Keith Lucas closing the gap. Keith is wearing bib number 6 and finished 7th on Saturday. Keith is a MTB racer and pulls a McShane pass on me through a technical turn section. I am good with this since I looked at the final turn well during warm ups. I would not make the same mistake as yesterday, being too cautious on this final corner. We hit the pavement together and Keith nails the gas, I think no freaking way and click gears until I am even with him at 15 meters to go, bummer for Keith as I take the sprint by a wheel. He says dam roadies, at the line and then we both laugh through our heavy breaths. Hard breaking going into the grass section, we shake hands saying good race to each other. Back to the staging area to say a few last words to David Lombardo, to stick to the plan and have fun.
The rest of the day was spent talking, making new contacts, watching other races and enjoying the CX atmosphere at this awesome USGP event. There are two races I really want to watch, the junior 15-16’s which David Lombardo is in. David finished 2nd on Saturday and when I spoke with him and his dad Chris, asked how the race played out. After which I asked if he would like advises on how to approach Sunday. He says yes, and we talk about a different race strategy. Chris thanks me for the advice to David, since he totally agrees with me. So we, Chris, Rob, and I watch the two juniors battle each other, as this is a two man race. The rest of the field are 45 second back, I am not sure of this but they are not a threat. At the end of the day David wins the race, and is very excited, well excited for David, which is a large smile.
The pro race was awesome, though Ryan Trebon rolled a front tire during his warm up, hurting his leg. He still raced but was not the normal animal we are used to seeing, I think he finished 10th. Troy Wells and J.Pow did put on a great show with Powers attacking again with 1k to go, winning by a 2-3 second margin.
I want to thank Rick Mace for the race photo’s since we forgot our camera, not such a good thing. You can friend Rick on fb to see all his photo’s. Rob Curtis Psimet, for working the pit and building such great wheels. Heidi for doing all the free Embro apps, people are loving this at the races. The USGP crew and Joan Hanscom, the head of this race series.
Hope to see many of you at the Norge/Psimet race on Saturday, the prize list is increased, which is nice. Check out the payout break down people, it is worth the drive. The 1-2-3 race may have a few guest riders, top 10 finishers at the USGP Sunday.
Safe riding to everyone, see you this weekend.