Photography Credits Below
I’ve known Bill a long time. And homie speaks the truth when he says: "I pulled a Keller! I won the hole shot and hero’ed for a lap or so before imploding and getting passed by by like 10 guys…”
I’m still up to my idiotic race start tactics so Bill’s words were a good reminder that I’m not nearly fit enough to even come close to playing power plays against guys who are FLYING. But alas I re-played them for all my bros to see…again…to use me as a launch pad for their smarter efforts. I’ll get smart one of these days. Let me get back to that in a sec.
This weekend was the first Colorado Cup race, 2 hours and 45 ‘glorious' minutes away out in Buena Vista CO. And, yes, it was a ‘good view’ making the drive worth it. The ‘Collegiate’ 14’ers all around us at a park adjacent to a beautiful river…thus it’s namesake: ‘Cross at the River.’
Boulder Cycle Sport was in the house for the 35A race with the previous days winner at Interlocken, Mark Wisner, in good form and an always strong Brian Hludzinski raring to race (he’d spent the whole day prior as race promoter at his Interlocken race). Our ‘ringer’ Timmy the truth Faia had a nasty crash at Interlocken the day before and needed a day to rest to come back stronger next week. We’d face the Moots duo of Michael Robson and Glen Light and a cast of other strong characters like Clay Harris, Jeff Cospolich and our State Champion Ward WB Baker.
The pre-ride showed us all that this would be a crit style race. The wind was howling and the course had essentially straight slogs into the wind, then recovering somewhat with the wind at your back. It had some interesting features like some run ups, a barrier set and a great sand pit. Yet I think they will be able to do some really interesting things with this course in the future as there is plenty to work with. A few more twists and turns and this could become a staple of the early season calendar, somewhat like Frisco has become for us. ACA racers should ensure you input opinions to the apres-race survey!
We took to the start grid, lining up from last year’s standings. The start chute, while long, apexed hard right onto the course between a gate and would present a challenge. The appropriate words by Mr. Robson to take ‘er easy as gentleman’ before the whistle blew were understood by all.
At my current state, I feel raring to go. I am hungry to lay it down…but my eyes and mind are biting off too much for me to chew these days. On the gun, I settle in nicely behind Michael and Glen as they tear into the sketchy first turn. We all make it safely as we head into the first obstacle, a rutted sketchy run up. We all pile into this obstacle and I fly up the right side over rocks and essentially run past Michael and Glen…literally laughing and doing the Simpson-esque ‘ha-ha’ laugh as I remount in front of them.
Oh shit. The wind.
The moment I remount and start to drive, I can feel the snot getting sucked back into my head with the wind howling in my face. I drive into it setting what I think is a conservative tempo. I’m looking back occasionally to see who will come by and start to work with me (pa-leeze Greg). As we are pushing the pace, a tree limb was hit by someone behind me that swung back and apparently caused a nasty crash…taking out my team mates Wisner and Brian. Arrgh! Some made it through with our group but created a huge gap. So I go harder. By the start of lap two, my ‘moto pacing’ services were done and Michael is off…off to the races basically from there all the way to the finish. Amazing. He crushed it basically from the GUN!
As the race wore on, I of course need to pay back the huge withdraw I took out to mortgage my race. I start to unravel and I proceed to get passed. And passed again. Just too worked from the early efforts and nary a moment to feel recovered. As the snotcicle started to form and my head and shoulders began to slump, I thought about the day before at Interlocken as I am trying to dig deep and I found the motivation through the absolute bravery my son showed me at his race. He is such a hard little man, doing what he can to show me he can do this. It will forever stick in my brain to never give up and I am lucky to have filmed it! If you know how deep this grass was, you’d be amazed. This is a non-trivial course for adults, for kids its murder. I saw kids weeping…
So all the lessons I need to re-learn aside, I pushed hard and I ended up taking 11th on the day. I continue to learn and working hard to evolve my skills and needs to really read races, gauge efforts and use the things I have to make me faster.
With that effort in our legs, me, The WB and Robson decide to pin up again and race the Opens. If we’re driving almost 3 hours to race, we’re going to get every pennies worth. Webber (left) and Dubba were raring to go as was another new teammate of ours, Ross Holbrook. My plan was to start smart and literally practice chase/bridge/recover/chase bridge/recover. I would use this race LITERALLY as a ‘live fire’ training ground. You just can’t mimic this in training so doing a double, even if just part of it, is huge for training and trying out new things.
I lined up at the back and the start was pandemonium. Dudes going through tape on that first sketchy apex turn, flailing around, botching run ups, wheels slamming into my helmet…so I literally throttled back. I wasn’t going to let some young whipper snapper take me out! When we settled in, my legs started feeling OK. I found Ross and practiced my first bridge and effort to get to him and then simply stop and recover. Hmm, funny how that works…and feels good! From there we started working. We had a strong Courtney Gregory from Mafia Racing with us and the three of us traded blows. 3 or 4 laps of attacking, bridging, recovering and I could honestly say it felt great. 45 minutes in, 2 to go, I’d had the perfect amount of work put in and pulled the plug. Frankly my IT bands and sciatic nerves were yelling at me loudly and I decided there was no need to go any deeper into the hole. The efforts were put in.
Anyways, fall is REALLY here in Colorado. The Aspens are blowing up and I’m REALLY looking forward to Chris Grealish’s Aspen Lodge race next weekend in Estes Park, one of our state’s most scenic areas. It’s the 2nd race in the Colorado Cup series so people will be all fired up. I’ll have family in town to come watch the spectacle as well so it’ll be a super fun day.
Finally, have a gander Rod ‘Colorado Perma-fit’ Yoder’s video from the 35’s. You’ll get an idea about the course…although it belies the strength of the wind.