Somehow the USGP season came to a close before I thought it had started. December 4th and 5th marked the classy USGP finals in Portland, and what was promising to be apocalyptic rain and snow in the lead up, turned into dry conditions and sunny skies. A number of Coloradoans boarded the United flight to Portland on Friday afternoon. With Waldek's United status I received a First Class upgrade, my first ever. Either that or Waldek wanted that sweet taste left in my mouth for my final races with Luna. Either way I enjoyed limitless water and tea, warm & salty nuts, a salad, and...milk and cookie!
When we arrived to the venue I was happy to see mud caked on people. Saturday held a portion of this mud but wind, zero precipitation and sun dried it up quick. Apparently any good luck evaporated for me too. After one of my better starts of the season I was plagued with mechanicals, crashes, and some pitting practice. The final straw was colliding with a devil on the course and I decided it just wasn't my day. Frustrating - yes, but my legs were good and my start (something I have struggled with all season) was improving. I shoved the hard luck in a black box, latched it and punted it off the coast of Jantzen Beach. The lovely thing about USGPs is there are two days to every race. That night I was lucky to spend with a group of friends who have been instrumental to my life so far as a bike racer. Tim, Chel & Henry embarked on a cross vacation to Portland and Bend. Portland is also home to my ex-mechanic and python vet, and of course the friendly Brits are always keen on super-sized cheese curds.
Sunday was a new day and I was adamant on making something of it. I'd say I had my best start of the season. It was as if I felt the trigger of the start gun being pulled; heard the shot before it was fired. Katerina soon powered to the front and I was quick to grab her wheel. I saw the white leader jersey of Georgia on my shoulder and noticed we were quickly pulling away from the rest of the riders. Finally, the final race of the season we put the Luna train to work. I bobbled and Georgia came around me and I tried as hard as I could to stay latched to their wheels. But both were too strong and too smooth and I eventually lost ground. I kept my head down the rest of the race and rode a race I am proud of. I finished 3rd, while Katka and Georgia took 1st and 2nd, respectively. With the frustration I felt on Saturday, Sunday's race felt like a mini-victory as I would have that to sit on through the week in the build-up to Nationals.