Monday, December 3, 2012

Illinois State CX Championships

Every year Montrose is a great race, a lot of local racers target the State Championships so everyone is on form.  Combined with a tough course including some killer sand sections and *usually some ice, snow, and freezing temps its always a great event and challenging race. This year was certainly warmer, but the sand seemed a little less forgiving.  

Scott McLaughlin leading Brian Conant, Paul Mumford, David Reyes, David Lombardo and I through the sand Photo: Brandon Elliott

I wasn't doing myself any favors out there, a slipped pedal at the start, a couple bobbles in the sand and I found myself chasing the leaders all too often.  I kept reminding myself the sand was going to catch everyone at some point, and Im usually strong in the last laps of a race, so I kept pushing to get back to the front.   David Lombardo, Brian Conant, and Paul Mumford were all putting in some good attacks, but every now and then the pace would settle just a bit and Id push through the power sections to bridge back up.  With two to go it was down to Brian Conant, David Lombardo and I.  I kept the lines through the sand clean and focused on riding a smart final lap.  I took the lead after the finish with one to go so I could set the pace and keep a clean line.  Brian and David were both right on my wheel and Brian nearly came around before we went  under the bridge into the final straight.  My legs were absolutely cooked, but the end was in sight so it was one more brutal push to the finish. In the end it came to a sprint finish with David coming around from 3rd wheel...

David Lombardo and I through the finish.  Photo Amy Dykema
I held on to the win by about the width of a tire.  Having focused on this race I was really excited to get the top step.  David Lombardo rode a smart race and nearly took the win, but I am absolutely certain he will be on that top step in the not too distant future.  At the end of the month he will be heading to Europe to race at the EuroCross Camp and the Chicago CX community couldnt be more excited for him.  Hes a great guy, an incredibly talented rider, and couldn't have been more gracious after the race yesterday.  The season isn't over yet, we have a few more local races and then Nationals and Masters Worlds to look forward to, but this was a great cap to the Chicago Cross Cup. Thanks to all the volunteers and race organizers for another great season.  

1/2 Podium with Brian Conant and David Lombardo Photo: Alison Ramelb

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A win.  That's a win with a "." rather than a "!".  Been a long time since I've won a bike race, 15 or so years.

Despite a very gloomy morning the sun came out and made a perfect a 'cross day-cold and muddy.  Each week the club parcours in Utrecht becomes a little more technical; a new off camber tightrope and a few quick drops mixed to the normal menu today.  A smaller turnout than normal meant a four man group forming at the start and waiting.  Finally an attack at half way-one forward, two in the middle and one out the back.  I came across with one to go, heel clipping a barrier in front of the small crowd.  That gets a shout.

At the muddy run up starting the laatste ronde a choice--go now as my rival stumbles or hold for a big push at a half lap?  I went.  Then 3/4 of a lap with those remembered thoughts of when you haven't been off the front in years.  Just focus, push smoothly forward and don't look back.  Maybe glance when the course allows.  No arms up at the finish, Saturday club race requires a subtle finish.  Or maybe some karma balancing from a beyond last place in Belgium two weeks ago? 

So why just a "."?  A win is a win, right?  I'll take this one for what it is-a hard 50 minutes at the club series.  Six races in the book and a slim lead in the overall klassement, we'll keep it a win with a "." for now.