Monday, November 12, 2012

USGP - Derby City Cup Day 1 and 2

One of my favorite weekends of racing over the past few years has been the USGP of Cyclocross Derby City Cup in Louisville. Not only do you get the hang out in a lively and beautiful major city, but you get to race against and watch some of the best cyclocross racers on the planet. And to top it all off, you get to race on the actual course that will be used for the Elite World Championships in February! Throw in about 20 or so MISCENE racers and a few old friends from Rouge Racing Project from Louisville, and you have the perfect storm for a perfect CX race weekend!

This year the course was brutal! It was the test run for the Elite course that will be used in a few months. There was a 100 yrd + Sand chute for running, or riding if you had the power. 2 brutal and steep hill run ups that included broken concrete on one, and logs on the other. The Green Monster flyover 2 long off camber sections, 2 steep punchy hills, 2 long starts. A blazing fast paved start/finish section, and 1 set of barriers. It was almost more like Cross-fit rather than cyclocross! And to make it even harder, I raced in the single speed class along with several other Michigan racers. JB Hancock, Jim Goerlich, Mike Seaman, and Mark Wolowic.

Day 1 - I got a front row start and lined up next to Craig Etheridge. There was around 30 in the class, and everyone was itching for the hole shot. The gun went and we exploded out of the chute! A guy on a mountain bike grabbed the hole shot followed by Craig, then me. The pace was incredible! Soon we were surrounded by about 10 others as we dismounted and ran up the log stairs and directly into the sand. I chose to run, and was soon getting passed by anyone that could make it. Bad choice, but it was early and I was not worried. However, this caused me to lose contact with the critical top 5 group. I worked my way back up to around 6-7th. and realized I was in battle once again with Greg Heck. We tried to push hard to bridge the gap to 5th just ahead. In the end of the 2nd lap, JB was able to bridge up to us and put some pressure on both of us to try and pull ahead. All 3 of us stuck like glue. Half way through I was on the very edge of the red zone, but could tell that Greg and JB were too. Jarod Makowski was riding along the long straight away near the pits and encouraged me to attack. I did! I figured I could out power them both and pull away. It worked. I opened a quick gap and round the corner through the barriers. Remounted and sprinted again out of the saddle. I had about a 5 second gap heading into the start finish area and was looking to open it up more, and then a girl stalled on the last steep climb and I could not get around her! POW! I smashed right into her rear and found myself tangled up on the ground. JB instantly caught me and so did Greg. Greg then attached JB and took control. I was now chasing. I got back on to JB's wheel by lighting an untimely match. We stayed with each other until the last lap. Greg was try to shake us both and I tried to same move I did a lap before. It un-hitched JB, but I could not shake Greg. He then made one last move to get around me heading into the last off camber section and 2 punchy climbs. This was a great move as he knew I could bobble the top of the last climb and he would be free. It work. Greg took 7th. I took 8th and JB finished 9th.

Day 2 - I was still looking and hoping to crack the top 5 before the week ended. The gun went and I found myself drifting back fast. JB grabbed the hole shot and planned to hang on to the top 5 group as long as he could. I was sitting somewhere around 10-15 now. And then I began to make my move. I could see JB just a head. He was my carrot. Then soon I found myself chasing down Greg again. He was riding strong but just out of reach. I used the power flats to claw seconds back on him lap after lap and he knew it. With 3 to go, some guys on the side line from Don Walker racing put a hand out with a dollar and said you can keep this if you catch him! I grabbed it and sprinted out of the saddle in pursuit! I caught Greg and settled in on his wheel. We went blow for blow and continued to close in on JB for the last few laps. We were killing each other and it was great! This is racing. I know we were both trying to find and plan the final attack, and kept each other on our limits. Then with less than a quarter lap to go, we entered the 100 yrd sand death march. I knew after this section the course was the same a yesterday and would be critical till the end. After the sand, there was a short leg searing climb, paved flat, the technical off camber section and 2 punchy hills. Knowing what happened the day before, who ever got to the off camber section first and could get just a couple of feet gap, would beat the other. Through the sand we were both running almost side by side. I felt like I could puke. My heart was pounding out of my chest! Greg made it to the exit of the sand first. Mounted his bike and began to pedal up the hill. I followed less than a second behind. Greg could not clip in his pedals clean and bobbled slightly. This allowed me to pull along side him at the top of the turn. As soon as we crested with my legs on fire, I dug deep one last time and opened up a sprint to pull ahead. I might have got 5 or 10 feet on him but I was bound and determined to make sure it would be enough! I took every risk I could through the hair pin turn of the off camber section, kicking my leg out and tail whiping the turn! I pushed as hard as I could to clear the top of the last 2 climbs clean. As I hit the pavement, I looked back and saw the plan worked. I opened the gap and crossed the finish line in 7th place. One spot better than the day before. JB had a stellar race, and finished just ahead of us in 6th. Way to go JB! And Great job racing for the entire weekend Greg!

Congrats to the Lil Pony for double wins!
Mark Wolowic for a win and a 2nd!
Jim Goerlich for cracking the single speed top 10!
JB on his 6th and 8th single speed finishes!
All the Michigan folks who came down and raced. We all represented our state well!

Thanks to Jarod, Jeff, Surly Bastard, Big Mac, Seaman, Pete, Andy, Alex, Mark P, All the Wolverines, All the Flying Rhinos, Card, Rouge Racing, and all the rest of the Michigan folks for a great time and for cheering me on! Felt like racing at home. Awesome!


jbhancock said...

Another quality CHUNKY write-up! Great weekend of racing!

Paynful said...

Nice job this weekend!!

100yd+?? LOL!! more like less than 50..., but I am sure it felt like 200 by the end!!

TP said...

Mad props and brotherly, love!!! ROCK - N - ROLL!!!!

Surly Bastard said...

Gut times, as Gunter Vogler would say. You are a twisted individual.