After our disaster on the road in New York, it was good to finally get to the race venue. I've raced the Cycle-Smart twice before, once on the old course at Amherst College, and the other time at the current venue. This time, we raced in a little corner on the other end of the park, kind of hidden away from everyone else in the park. It's weird, having huge expanses of grass, but we're off in the weeds and trees tucked away in the corner.
But the course was fun, with some real runups, and some tricky root sections. 'Cross bikes are not very compatible with roots, and you really had to watch out for damaging your rims/tires/nose while riding through these sections. I do much better at courses with longer straightaways, where I can ramp my speed up and leave it there for a long time. This one was ALL corners, so it didn't really suit me. Strike one.
I was not feeling killer after a week of stressing out about the drive and the truck, and I think the USGP was the beginning of a little downturn for me. Strike two. It's OK, I need a little rest time anyway, and I had scheduled the following week for some real recovery. All I had to do was hang on for this weekend, and it should all be good.
The race was scheduled at the same time as the NACT races in Boulder, which meant a much easier field: no ringers! But this also meant that everyone thought they could win, so the racing would be really intense and hairy. I knew the races would be good for me, even if I wasn't at my best.
The second race was even twistier, and even harder to get away... It was a real battle line to line, and it got pretty gnarly at the end! Dan Timmerman set out from the start and wanted to ride away from everyone. He got a good gap, because he was nailing it! Eventually he came back and it was a four-man group at the front. Each of us took our turns trying to kill each other, but no gap was formed until Timmerman dropped himself onto the ground in second wheel. I think he almost broke he nose, I guess he hit it on his bike.
Anyway, the gap opened up behind Driscoll and he hit the gas. We chased our tails off, but even a 8-second gap was too much. With one lap to go, it was obvious that JD wasn't going to get caught, and we all got coy trying to go for second. The ENTIRE last lap was one big attack, we railed it all the way in to the line. It wasn't that anyone had any more to give tan anyone else, we were all at our limit. It was only a matter of how bad you wanted it. I went up the steep ride-up with Matt White leaning HARD on me, the crowd was going nuts. I chopped him hard a few corners later, and led out the sprint. Matt White came by me in the last 25 meters, so I ended up 3rd on the day. At least I held onto the podium, Timmerman has out-sprinted me a couple times, so I'm glad to not lose more spots.