The third stop of the USGP came and went like a flash. In August it seems you've got this long season in front of you, after an already long road or mtb season. The first few races drag on a bit because they always seem to be the most painful, when you change from converting your balls-to-the-wall effort from the final 5k of a 70mile jaunt to the first 500m of a steeple chase. They're always a cluster too, because there is so much to remember...so many details, so many things to sharpen spot on.
But here I am looking down the barrel of the gun at the final USGP in Portland in a couple weeks, and then Nationals. So it's Monday and I've got the post-race depression going on. When, for three days you're in a bubble of bike racing friends, overly caffeinated and pedaling is on the mind. Then it all comes to a close Sunday evening as I'm stuffing sleeping pills down my throat to kill the caffeine buzz, shut the adrenaline pumps down, switch the brain to buzz mode. But no, I still didn't sleep and now I'm three espresso shots into my day and feeling like mashed potatoes.
Other than the couple of local races I did back in CO last weekend, this weekend was the big breakout of new equipment and kits. I won't lie - I was feeling some pressure on these races - even if it was just an abundance that I was weighing myself down with. The conditions on Saturday were identical to last year- peanut butter fudge slog. NOT my favorite, just crawling around the course, pedaling hard in the 25 or 26 on the downhill and almost going backwards. Going backwards was just what I did. After a strong start, sitting about 3rd wheel coming off the pavement, I couldn't do anything right. The lines I was riding while warming up were beyond me and the fencing seemed to keep reaching out and pulling me aside. My legs felt like a pile of air which was no match for this course of brute strength. It was quite muddy and I was happy to have great pit help because I was taking a bike twice per lap. Everything was great except for the rider! I don't think I need to dwell on that race much more...it's in the books, though I think I'll rip that page out.
With some good recovery post race, consisting of curry and peppermint-brownie gelato, I shut my eyes to the world and actually slept. When I woke up Sunday things felt different, back to normal. I got a great warm-up in and everything went smoothly...you know when you get all the minutes down exact, all the t's dotted and the i's crossed? With my i's crossed I had a fairly terrible start, going off the pavement probably 15th wheel or so and narrowly avoiding a big pile-up. Somehow, dissimilar to yesterday, I was able to float around the course, brushing the fencing instead of colliding, dancing around bobbles instead of criss-crossing. 15 people back I had more carrots to chew through, and before I knew it I was inching my way onto Katerina's wheel. When I finally got to her wheel is when I began to hear the crowds, some booing, mostly cheering...but that kind of energy really helps! I made sure to be on her wheel on all the fast, straight power sections, when drafting could matter most. But it was all I could do to stay there, and a couple times she moved aside for me to pull through but I wouldn't. So she put in another wicked acceleration leaving me in her dust.
There was a hard-charging Miller and Gould behind me, and with those two bad-motor-scooters, I had to keep the gas on. I was pleased to keep Nash within 12-20 seconds for the remainder of the race, though was never able to quite reel her in again, and finished the sunny day in 2nd. I found the course much more to my liking as the rain had stopped and it had dried up. There were still some slog-ish sections, but for the most part is was quite tacky and much faster than Saturday. Plus they shortened the laps, making for a more fast-paced, exciting, and crowd-friendly spectacle. Oh and the sun decided to shine and I like that.
The USGP promoters had their work cut out for them this weekend with the unpredictable weather from Hurricane Ida. Again they put on another first-class event without a glitch. Thank you to my generous sponsors for making this weekend possible, Primus Mootry, Schlamm, Clement, Excel Sports, Ollett Coaching, Reynolds, SRAM, FSA, TRP, Oakley, KneadEd, I/O Bio Merino, Pearl Izumi, AceCo Sports Group, Ritchey, Lazer, Hudz, Rotor Components, USWCDP, pHit Pills