2015 Georgetown Cyclocross Festival
Last weekend I headed back down south to Georgetown, Texas for the 2015 Georgetown Cyclocross Festival. This was my first cyclocross race in the state of Texas when I moved here in 2013. I had some good results then and I was hopeful that I could continue them this time around.
Saturday – Everyone came to play!
I elected to forego my usual Friday night travel and have a night at home, rather than spend it on the road and in another hotel. So Saturday began with a quick stop for some local coffee and then a smooth trip down to Georgetown. The weather looked all the more threatening the closer I got to the venue and I was secretly hoping for a lack of precipitation. I like racing in the mud as much as the next guy, but I really didn’t want to deal with any bike clean up afterwards. Fortunately for me, the weather held out until after the race (my teammate Adam was not so lucky though) !
The course itself has some very distinct features that are used each year. There is a long sandpit that was a little longer than usual this year; some crosses through a drainage ditch, challenging riders to make a quick down and up transition; and of course, a steep run up to put you a bit farther in the red zone. Even with those technical features, there is still plenty of room to open up the throttle and pedal a ton. I won’t say that it’s a roadie-specific course, but it certainly tilts to those with more than enough power.
The field was pretty stacked and a who’s who of the top riders in Texas. I was really excited going in because I hadn’t been to an event this year where the top talent in the state was all in one place. While there were a few players missing, the field was plenty strong to serve as a good measuring stick for my form.
We shot off the line down the wide open start straight and I took a bit of initiative to go to the front before the first turns. With clear air, I was able to ride my own lines and be as smooth as possible through the corners, without having to navigate any traffic. I punched it as I excited the dizzying series of turns and lined out the field a bit.
Moving towards the first set of barriers on the steep uphill, Tristan Uhl (Giant South) found it a good time to come around me and show his technical prowess by hopping the planks. I elected to run them and was able to move my feet fast enough to not lose too much time. Coming around to the sandpit, I caught back up to Tristan and we powered through the sand, with no discernable line to follow. With another set of barriers immediately following the sand, Tristan again hopped the planks while I ran. This would prove an advantage throughout the race.
By the end of the first lap, we had pried a bit of daylight between the rest of the field and ourselves. We carried on, Tristan at the front and me glued to his wheel, until we hit the sand for the second time. This time through, I made the mistake of being over geared and was forced to run the last third of the pit. As Tristan hopped the planks, I was forced to chase again and as we flowed through the ditch section, I slid out and opened the gap for good.
I tried to collect myself and bring the gap back, but there was little I could do. Rather than competing for first, my mindset shifted to preserving second – my third mistake. I kept riding and trying to pedal hard when I could. Local cycling legend, Colin Strickland (Elbowz Racing), was starting to catch up after riding through the field. That alone was enough to light a fire under my ass for the latste ronde. Fortunately for me, I was able to cross the line in second and not end it with a sprint.
I wasn’t super pleased with my race as a whole, but being 2nd place against some tough competition was alright by me!
Sunday – It’s ALL Backwards!
The rain had held off long enough to let me clean my bikes after Saturday’s race but started to pick up on my drive to the hotel and continued through the evening hours. It was clear as I headed to the course on Sunday that the track would be very different from the day before. The course was backwards on day two and a few pieces were moved here and there, but overall the situation was the same.
I went through my usual routine and I was looking forward to another good race today. As we got called up to the line, there was a bit of controversy (in my opinion) as one rider rolled to the line in his teammate’s call up spot. No need to name names or call anyone out – it should be the promoter or official’s job to monitor, right? – but it definitely changed the complexion of the race a bit. We fired off the line again, but rather than go to the front, I got caught fourth wheel in the first turns. Tristan had gone to the front and already was opening a gap through the first series of turns.
I’m not sure if I mentally quit at that point, but I definitely started to lose hope that I would be on the top step. Still, anything can happen in cyclocross and I kept plugging away. As we neared the end of the first lap, the gaps were clearly beginning to form between the top four places. Tristan was off the front, followed by Colin, followed by me. Over the course of the hour, there would be little change in the gaps between us and we rode as if tied by a string. No one losing time, no one gaining time.
Though I was third wheel, I wanted badly to catch up and overtake Colin. Easier said than done. The dude is a diesel engine (if you read my CX7s post you’d know) and I was not so confident I was going to catch the winner of the Red Hook Milan crit on the flats. I tried my best to be faster in the technical sections, but my weekend troubles in the sand persisted and I maintained my position in third place from start to finish.
Overall it was a good weekend of racing! I was on the podium both days and scored a case of High Brew Coffee on Sunday. Score! While there were definitely some areas of improvement, the racing was a good indication that my form is coming around just in time for the last big races of the season (*knock on wood*)!
This weekend it’s up to Oklahoma for Round 1 of racing in Tulsa at the Cyntergy Hurtland Cross. See y’all north of the border!