Here I was lamenting the rapid end of the ‘cross season, and thanks to one Beatles-haired teenager, we got another chance to get all “Belgie” this past Sunday.
Skyler Trujillo of Fort Collins made the podium at Nationals last month, which resulted in a spot on the USA world’s team. Badass. And to send him to the race in the Czech Republic, his dad and sponsors organized a race with the help of the oh-so-bike-friendly New Belgium Brewery. What’s not to like about that? So Rob and I loaded up all our junk and headed up there, where we found several of our Blue Sky Velo peeps.
Rob can’t believe Andy Harmon ripped off his tall-sock racing method.
Here’s Rob cruising to an effortless second place.
The four BSV punx dominated the Men’s B, sweeping the podium in vigorous fashion. Our man Bill Teasdale took the win.
Then it was time for my race, just as the day got warmer and the course got muddier. It was a super fun setup, with tons of tight turns, snowdrifts, and punchy climbs. I felt a bit out of it, since I hadn’t raced cross or even ridden the mountain bike in weeks, but during the warmup lap I started to feel the vibe.
The whole turnout for this race was rather small, so I wasn’t surprised to see only five women on the start line. Me and my teammate Kayla were the only Blue Sky-ers, since our fast chick Susan was out with a torn hamstring. (She was everywhere on the course cheering, though, which was pretty killer.) There were two ladies on the start with mountain bikes, which weren’t a bad choice for the conditions — except for being heavy.
The start dude hit the siren button on his megaphone and we were off. Historically my M.O. at cross races is to sprint off the front, blow up spectacularly, and free-fall back to 15th like a spent rocket booster jettisoned off the Space Shuttle Atlantis. You could say that it’s the first sign of insanity, to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. But basically, sprinting is the only thing I’m good at. And let’s face it, it feels good to do something you’re good at. But I never have the fitness to back it up, and exploding one lap into a cross race feels like hell. So I’ve finally stopped charging off the line like it’s a drag race.
I let the fat-tire twins lead out, and tailgated them mercilessly in the turns. When we got to a big snowfield along a dirt road, I let my skinny tires cut through the slush and made my pass. I was starting to get overly excited (as racing does to us all), and I was sure that one of these girls would pass me back at any time. But I pulled ahead and seemed to be staying there.
My legs didn’t feel like all that, though, and neither did my back, so subsequent laps found me on foot up the muddy run-ups.
Sure enough, I was starting to get a bit redlined. The second-place girl got within 15 seconds of me while I slowed down to recover, and I was pretty sure it was all over but the cryin’. But I concentrated on all those things you think about when you’re suffering: Relax. Breathe into your belly. Pedal in circles. Look where you want to go. I should have invested in Apple stock. Hey, pay attention, dumbass.
And eventually, I began to widen the gap again. To my extreme pleasure the last lap was upon me, and I felt like I could give whatever was left. I pulled into the finish with a decent lead. It feels very weird to win a race, even when I know it’s just because (a.)not many people showed up and (b.) the course was technical enough to suit me. But hey, I’ll take it!
Eddie Clark interviewed me for Mountain Flyer….I tried not to sound like a jackass, but I probably failed. I have zero ability to be on the wrong side of the camera/audio/video.
Check out Eddie’s work here at Mountain Flyer.
After the race we blasted our helpless gears and bearings with the powerwasher, drank some beers and failed to win anything in the raffle. Best of all, we got to hang out with our race-day buddies, which we don’t often see in the off-season.
And lastly, best of luck, Skyler! Rip some legs off.
And now back to our regularly scheduled base miles.