Monday, November 21, 2011

Louisville USGP CX

Wow… what an awesome trip. Mary Ann and I had been looking forward to this trip for a while. It is nice to just get away for the weekend. We loaded up the Fit and headed out Friday morning to Louisville. The weather was great and we only had one traffic issue in Cincinnati on the way down. We headed straight to the venue and I geared up to take a few laps of the course. It is exciting to see the sport of cyclocross growing to the point that they are building dedicated venues like this one in Louisville. The course was challenging with a few 2-3’ rollers, some technical sections in the trees, a flyover (Permanently installed), a steep off camber section, a steep run up… and lots of bumps! We stayed with Mary Ann’s friend Laura and her family. It was nice, as breakfast was a non issue and they even cooked us a homemade meal that night. The next morning came quick. I was a little nervous as this is a big time event and I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t register until the Monday before the race and since riders are called up based on when they registered, I was in the back of the 100+ field of CAT 2/3 riders. I could barely see my fellow Michigan riders Mark Caffyn or Ryan McKinnie who were towards the front. We didn’t move for a bit at the start being such a big group, but were soon under way. It was like a big slinky on the first lap as people slowed for the obstacles… first it was the couple roller bumps, then the barriers and lastly the flyover. Based on the data, I stood still for 20sec waiting to go over. After the flyover things were strung out. I passed a few people and soon could see Ryan Mckinnie and pushed to catch him but ran out of time. At the finish, I put it in my head to get around the 2 people in front of me and even thou it was for 90th place… I sprinted and won. After a nice dinner with Laura and her husband Jesse at Mitchell’s, day two was upon us and I was warmed up and at the starting line. The course layout changed a little and they made us climb a hill after a 180 which separated a lot of people. I didn’t think this tight little turn they put right before it was the best idea as there was some yard saling going on as the not so skilled bike handlers tried to get through it. Some guys dismounted and ran up, but I stayed on the bike and rode to the top passing about 4-5 people. I must admit that this helped with the congestion at the flyover as there was a much shorter wait. I was feeling good and was leap frogging forward from group to group. I was feeling good and started to see Ryan Mckinnie, so I pushed harder. I caught him and passed him, but got behind a slower rider and he passed with a train of guys. I jumped on and got around the group and never looked back. With one lap to go, I also saw Mark Caffyn and pushed to catch him. I had a good racing going with another rider and had fun being aggressive on a pass and also attacking before the final technical section. I again sprinted to beat the guy ahead and ended up finishing right behind Mark in 79th place. Watching the Pro’s race was really cool and educational. I learned a lot on how to attack different sections and recover. Major props go out to Mike Wissink from Michigan who won the Master’s 35+ class on day one with an incredible ride and placing 3rd on day 2 when he could have gone for the win. I was amazed at the Michigan contingent at the race, it’s nice to see. I will definitely be back to another USGP and Mary Ann is starting to get the CX bug... she is a little crazy like that!!

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