2015 KMC Cyclocross Festival
Last weekend was the official kick-off for my 2015 cyclocross season. Okay, I raced the local Thursday night Creek cross series, but as far as big season racing, I made the trip to Providence, Rhode Island to race the KMC Cyclocross Festival (KMCCX).
Providence has been a staple on the US cyclocross scene for almost a decade. The venue at Roger Williams Park, just south of downtown, has all the features you’d want in a cyclocross course. With a top notch venue and being in the hotbed of American cross in the Northeast, I wouldn’t be surprised if Providence was a World Cup event in the coming years.
KMCCX is also a part of “Holy Week”, the term given to the week between the Craft Sportswear Grand Prix of Gloucester and the KMC Cyclocross Festival, including the Night Weasels race on Wednesday night. This year is my first year racing any part of Holy Week and I was stoked for the opportunity to test my legs against the nation’s best.
Saturday - Day One
I woke up on Saturday morning, welcomed by the gray skies of New England fall. Having arrived in Boston at 11p on Friday, I was thankful to have all day to get situated before race time. After some fine hotel breakfast, next to Mr. & Mrs. Katie Compton mind you, I built up my bikes, packed my suitcase and headed to the course.
While the skies were gray, the weather was refreshing, with temps in the 50s and some strong winds here and there. It wasn’t entirely pleasant and I got real bundled up before hitting the course for some laps, but to have a break from the Texas climate was a nice change. And nothing beats fall in New England!
Checked-in and early laps of the course complete, I had a bit of lunch and just hung out before the 5p start time. With no UCI points and a relatively low ranking compared to the competition, I was called to the line around the 5th or 6th row (after the first two or three, the rows become hard to define). There was no start loop to the course, so a good start and getting to the first chute run up would be imperative. However, in typical Tyler fashion, I was a bit tentative off the mark and got to the run up to see everyone at a dead stop. It was at this point that I reached down and secured my rear wheel in the dropouts before disaster struck, and found my spot in the back of the line.
I came through the pits for the first time third from last and had to use most all of my energies hopping through groups to move up in the field. I rode a pretty steady race and was able to pick off a lot of riders who either blew up or had mechanicals, finally crossing the line in 52nd with 3 laps to go.
Though it wasn’t my best race ever, I was happy to make it that far in my first race of the year but I was definitely left wanting a bit more.
Sunday - Day Two
Waking up on Sunday, I thought I was still dreaming, as slivers of daylight broke through the curtains of my hotel room. The forecast all week had called for rain and mud but on Sunday morning the sun had alternate plans and stayed out all day. Spirits lifted, I had a good morning packing up and got to the course for some early laps again.
Sunday’s track was a reversal of the day before, and what was a run up the day before, was now a steep chute for the Pro Men, Women & Juniors to slide down. Amanda Nauman described it like waiting at the top of a waterslide as the people in front of you go over the edge. That’s a pretty accurate description to what I felt in practice and in the race, with my butt so far back, the saddle was in my stomach.
I was a bit farther back in the grid today, about 8th row – as punishment for my poor start and finish yesterday, no doubt. This time there was a starting loop and I sharpened the elbows a bit to ensure that I could move up as quickly as possible. I got caught behind a bit of traffic, but with some alternate lines and a little “argy-bargy” I moved up in the bunch. I found myself riding with Adam Myerson, Luke Keough and some other top riders for the first lap, before the power sucking course made me slow down a bit.
Recovering as quickly as one can, I eventually caught back up to the remnants of that group, riding with Canadian champ Mike Garrigan a bit and passing riders who were coming back from the front. They may have been on bad days, but I was still stoked to ride with them! As the laps ticked down, I kept telling myself I could make it one lap farther than I did yesterday. After I made it past the 3 laps to go, I had a small sigh of relief and kept pedaling to make it one more lap.
“Make this your best lap!” I told myself and when I got the bell with one-to-go, I was totally surprised (and a bit tired) that I made it to the lead lap! I’ll be honest and say I slowed a bit on the last laps, trying to keep everything smooth and clean. But when I crossed the line in 45th I was pretty dang stoked to have finished my second race of the year, at one of the biggest events of the season, on the lead lap! I even celebrated with pizza and cookies =]
Providence was a BLAST and if you haven’t raced here before, I’ll encourage you to make plans for the 2016 edition! The course, the crowd, and the event as a whole is one of the best I’ve ever raced. Thank you to all the staff and volunteers that made it possible!
This weekend it’s off to Baltimore for the Charm City Cyclocross Fest, another UCI C2 race! Hopefully, the legs will be better and the engine ready to carry me to some good results and some UCI points!
Check out the coverage by In the CX Hairs of both the Women's & Men's Pro races!
Saturday Replay is here for your viewing pleasure!