Thursday, December 15, 2011
USGP Finals- Bend OR
In 1998 or 99, my wife Jen and I were living in Santa Cruz Ca.and struck out on a road trip with a camper and our dog headed North. The ultimate goal was Victoria, BC but relentless rains stopped us dead in our tracks in Portland, OR consulting maps. We picked Bend as it was on the lee side of the Coastal Range and bound to be drier.We immediately were smitten with the size of the city, awesome views, a great vibe and climate. So returning ( both years ) for our CX National Championships was an easy decision. This year I've opted out of Nationals but was looking to participate on both sides of tape at one last large event of the season so when Bend was announced to host the USGP finals on the same track as Nationals, again, an easy decision was made. I would be returning from a Taiwan/China excursion and Jen would come along as it was her first trip back since our road trip. Our Sram NRS ( neutral race support ) sage of wisdom, Jose Alcala was kind enough to drag up my ride and a spare set of wheels.
After the past 2 years of epic conditions ( packed snow/icy ruts and last years freezing cold mud fest ) this year was strangely bone dry but very loose and fast, much like Colorado. I managed to pick up a nice head cold /flu thing while travelling in Asia and was still expelling all kinds of junk out of my lungs and sinus. Nevertheless, I was in Bend and bound to race. Day one felt super good, not a great start but consistently picking my way through the field on each lap. It might have also been the shortest race I've done in awhile, for some reason, I think we're were shorted one lap. I came through the start finish expecting 3 to go and saw 1 one to go! Head down and picked up a few more spots and remained smooth. Came through in 26th out of about 56 starters. The Elite race was on par with the Trebon/Powers battle at Ft Collins. I thought Tim would finally take the big win of the season as both he and Powers came around the last corner before the straight pretty much wheel to wheel. Powers kicked to the finish although almost celebrated a little prematurely..such great racing!
Sunday was noticeably colder and the course had taken a beating from all classes on Saturday. Lots of blown out ruts and super loose. I spotted lots of torn skinsuits and forlorn riders picking themselves up after stacking it in the duff.
I felt like I was working way harder on Sunday, and sure enough dumped the bike on a flat sharp left hander- just a dumb asleep at the wheel type move. I immediately lost 3 places and picked myself up to begin the chase. Slowly reeled one in and absolutely charged the last lap trying to catch 2 more and came within about 10 meters but ran out of race, rolling through for the day in 28th. Still pretty pleased with the effort. Bend has yet to disappoint, we had a great weekend soaking in the Oregon hippie/hipster cross vibe and hope to return for more.
This Sat marks the conclusion of my 2011 season. It's shaping up to a brutal day,we had a late in the game venue change and will now be racing on potentially a mix of ice, snow, dried grass and clay mud. the type that immediately doubles the weight of the bike. Should be interesting. fellow SRAMmies Braden, Brian B, and Jim are all on board. Wish us luck
by: Chris at 7:56 PM