Thursday, October 13, 2011

USGP Fort Collins

Last year, Fort Collins proved to be one of the only single weekends to provide real precipitation during the entirety of the Front Range cyclocross season and we seem to be on track to repeat it. With not a lick of moisture on the ground, weather certainly did arrive in time to make for a story within the story. Just getting to the race became more challenging than negotiating the course. I set my alarm for 6am and woke to a series of frantic texts from fellow SRAMmies who had left town 2 hours prior looking to start the Cat 4 race at 8am. All were turned back by snow and ice conditions on the 2+ hour trek North, eventually it was being stuck behind a massive pileup on I-25 that had them turning back to the Springs, unable to participate.
I was planning on leaving the house at 7am for my 45+ start at 11:30 when I rcvd another text noting that I-25 was closed because of the wreck and road conditions. I quick checked the interwebs and didn't see any road closures so jumped into the car and headed up the hill. Super sketchy conditions greeted us immediately but traffic was moving,albeit slowly. By the time we reached Denver, it was more a mix of rain and snow and by the time we reached Fort Collins, just light sprinkles and the course was actually dusty and dry. That however did not last long. What we had driven through followed us North so by the time we started staging, temps had dropped into the high 30's, the wind kicked up and rainfall was coming down hard. I couldn't have been happier, while I may not be a true mudder, I absolutely relish racing in these conditions, this is what epitomizes the sport.
It took forever to stage and I handed off my warm-ups too early, I was left 2 rows from the back in a 60 something deep field ,super cold and wet. The first few laps were a blur, the course immediately started becoming super greasy with a thin "cake frosting" skim layer of mud starting to form at the surface. By 2 to go, poor tire choices and/or pressures starting to send some of the front runners backwards trying to deal with conditions. I quickly starting to mingle with riders that I typically don't see during these races. I was feeling better as each lap progressed and wishing we were racing for the full hour. In the end I rolled through in 27th and quite possibly suffering from hypothermia; Jen handed me my jacket and I fumbled with the zipper for a bit as my hands were frozen blocks. As the girls waited for Jim to come across I ditched everything and ran over to borrow the salamander heater in Stu Thornes Cannondale Trailer. After warming up there, it was back to the car to put on everything I had packed and sit in the car with the heat on full blast until I stoped shaking( an hour later ).
Sunday was the polar opposite, the sun made an appearance , we enjoyed balmy temps and the track dried up to provide incredibly tacky, fast conditions. While I had a smooth, drama free race, the speed was absurdly high and I suffered a bit out there wrapping up the day in 33rd. We stuck around for the Mens Elite race which was a full on barn burner between Trebon and Powers with JPows coming back from a crash and at least a 20 second deficit to pass Trebon with a lhalf lap to go and take the win...pretty impressive stuff.

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