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Cross Racing Week 14 | One to go! One to go! One to go!

The Colorado racing season…she is DONE! I can not believe that this past Sunday was the last time this season I’ll here my name across loudspeakers by voices like Larry LG Grossman. It was the last shot I had to use some late season form here in our state and racing series. A final chance to trade paint with some of my best bros. A last attempt to make them feel vomitus as they do me weekend in and out.

The last few weeks I could feel my fitness rising. Growing. Piston’s finally going: ‘braaaaaaaaap!’ instead of blick-um blick-um blick-um. Decent results and more importantly ‘feelings’ on the bike that gave me such confidence that the work was in and my drought was over. It was pure bliss in bad conditions. Our Ridley bikes, PDX tires and my love for crazy-hard technical driving courses sort of getting a chance to do what they do best with me on top of them. Colorado States in Castle Rock would most certainly be challenging. Tons of elevation gain and mud on a course laid out to provide zero (quite literally zero) recovery. I had my work cut out for me.

When we arrived and surveyed, we all knew that this would be a leg burner. Mud everywhere given the snow earlier in the week and escalating temps come race weekend. Even on the climbs would guarantee you’d feel a little slow death every lap…

Greg @ co state cx championships day 1 2011 (1)

The Alpha Bicycle and Frites en Mayo crew got super busy doing their best to make this a hard and memorable event. They applied tons of time and passion to creating and promoting no less than an extremely challenging course as I mentioned, including a flyover that would allow the track to double back on itself. The thing was absolutely challenging. Maybe even (dare I say) too challenging given it’s radically pitched entry and exit ramps (more on this later) measuring some 45 degrees…

Greg @ co state cx championships day 1 2011 (2)

The men’s 35A’s lined up late on Saturday (it was a two day event). All the boys were hungry. Everyone wanted to show their best. I wanted to absolutely crush it as anyone would and thought about my race, how I wanted to give’er as we waited in the start chute (I clearly do my best thinking when I pick my nose…):


Did I have a game plan? I suppose so. Good position on the first lap then expend all my ammunition clips after 20 minutes or so and see what’s what. Michael, Jon C and Timmy would be gunning and gunning hard but the remaining crew of usual suspects were not going to make it easy for anyone. Anything can happen. Even the Kanibal von Baal gets the shit stick every now and again and could make someone a very happy person. “You gotta be in it to win it” as they say. 

The course’s start was a 500+ meter road climb before shooting into the course. It would immediately say hello to you and let you know what the reality of your day would be like. At the whistle the tempo certainly was ratched up more than normal with Timmy bombing in to take the front. I tried to control myself to not dig too deep too early but it was critical to maintain good position. I got in in 9th or so once on course and sat in, digging deep in the muck to stay in contact. I made a critical mistake of not being able to bribe anyone in the pits to work for me and already my bike, while shifting and driving well, was getting caked and super heavy by the first lap. It would be along day.

35081368-CO State CX Championships DAY 1 2011 %28403%29

The leaders starting tearing hard by lap 2, attacking each other to get an early (and big) separation. With one attack to try and get back on to that separating group on the start/finish straight, I knew I’d torpedoed myself. I like to hurt when when I am in the thick of the racing, but this was bad hurt. Like, ‘holy crap, you are really going backwards’ kind of hurt. Dudes were catching and dispatching me as I dropped pace in the slogging mud. Each lap up the paved climb dying a little bit more which is where I lost all my places.

The technical aspects of the course were great. I drove well and the Clement PDX rubber was like cheating. Nary a slip, save for some complete ice sections that I knew were in some corners and would have to dab. Slower but safer. The flyover was a non-challenge for the meat of the race and I’d nail it each time (save the last lap…and, yes, more on that later too)…

Greg @ co state cx championships day 1 2011 (4)

By mid race, some of my friends lining the tape as spectators could see me drifting backwards. One shouted out my placing, something like 19th, and I started to get incensed. Panicky a bit, but for certain pissed. I threw what ever coal I had left on the fire and started reeling guys back in. I was able to assemble some level of focus and one by one I would reel guys in. By the last lap I moved into 12th. The same guy shouting back to me my splits and improved placing and I could hear in his voice that he could see I was fighting back. (Where was that fire earlier, Keller?).

Bell lap. The lapped traffic is coming fast and furious. For the most part, these guys we’re racing with are really awesome at letting the front guys sneak through. Coming into the flyover however was a different story. For many, this thing was a true green monster. An obstacle like they’d never faced before. Steep pitches to get up and a treacherous descent to manage and flow down and out of. Much of the issue I am talking about looked like this…

Greg @ co state cx championships day 1 2011 (3)

The less experienced riders would not set up right to carry momentum in and up the front pitch to get themselves to the top deck and would stall and come cascading down. It was definitely challenging and it felt weird going at full throttle into it as it pitched up so steeply so quickly.

Sidebar: These guys at Alpha and Frites worked their asses off on this event and this structure in particular. I don’t want it mis-construed that the awesomeness factor of their efforts was not noticed. What was a bummer was the fact it could not be used by all races/racers. The design made it so that really only the top few percent could navigate the obstacle and even the ACA limited its use in competition. The USGP and other race promoters leveraging flyovers in many cases build in a staired ‘walk up’ essentially ensuring all skill levels can use the same (or very similar) course including the fly-over obstacle and thus collectively enjoy these very rare course-furniture treats. But I digress. Maybe the permanent flyover I hear the Castle Rock venue will receive from the City will be designed like this. But I digress…

Back to the bell lap. Coming into the green monster I came in hot indicating to a guy I am lapping that I am taking the left side. Well, unfortunately, he drifts to the…you guessed it…left side and performs the ‘leprechaun’ dismount…the leg over the top tube/side saddle dismount. I couldn’t believe it. I have 4 or more guys hot on my tail and as we both converge on the left side of the ramp, I somehow squeak by but do not carry enough momentum as I had to brake and thus had to run up the last few wooden slats. Upon getting to the top I try to do a hurry-up remount as my pursuers are already there on my ass. I don’t get into the pedals and descend this treacherous 45 degree down ramp unglued. I think Annette nailed this pic right at the moment my sphincter quivered and I just barely got my insteps onto my Time pedals…

Greg @ co state cx championships day 1 2011 (5)

I finished out my day in ‘lucky’ 13th, losing a place in the final sprint straight from one of my pursuers. Pretty weak for what I wanted to do at States but I didn’t crash and did the best I could. We all were shattered afterwards…even Michael who yet again took the flowers after a 100% completely dominating season in Colorado and is our master’s state champion…


SO the Colorado season is done. And now it’s ‘one to go! one to go! one to go!’ Nationals in Madison Wisconsin. The season was absolutely awesome. I finished 10th in our regional Masters series which is not quite what I wanted to nail when I laid my goals out, but I am happy. It was radically fun. I learned a lot this year yet again about myself, my preparation, my training. I felt like I drove my bike smooth this year and one of these seasons I’ll put it all together. That’s the drive that keeps me coming back.

It’s my golf I guess.

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