2016 Prologue Cross
It’s been a long time coming but #cxishere! Before I jump into a recap of the first race weekend of the season, I’ll provide a quick update on the month of August.
Before heading to the Cycle-Smart Cross Camp in Northampton, MA I spent the first weekend of the month at the inaugural Natural State Criterium in Bentonville, Arkansas. For a first year event, the event was awesome! Super fun courses and great attendance. I hope this race will be around for many years to come. From Arkansas it was off to Massachusetts for some cyclocross action then back to Texas for a weekend of training, and finally up to Wichita Falls for the annual Hotter N Hell race weekend.
Hotter N Hell is a Texas tradition for most, and one that casual riders and racers alike look forward to each year. The men’s 1/2 field was particularly loaded this year with Lawson Craddock and Nate Brown of Cannondale-Drapac fame, and Nate’s younger brother Jonny Brown of Axeon-Hagans Berman gracing us with their presence. From the start of Friday’s race, the field was lined out. About 15mins into the race I remember looking up wondering who was make the tempo so damn hard. It was Lawson riding at, what I assume was, a steady zone 2 pace for him, and hypoxic anaerobic pace for us mortals (or at least me). Fortunately, those guys would ease up a bit and I was able to finish the crit in the top 20. Saturday’s road race was hot and heavy from the gun, and I was excited to be in what was the winning break. But my excitement dissipated when my rear derailleur suddenly exploded - literally a JRA (Just Riding Along) scenario. But I made up for it with a top 10 in Sunday’s crit.
Labor Day weekend offered a bit a much needed R & R at home, prepping for the upcoming cross season. The Oklahoma edition of Cycle-Smart Cross Camp was a great last weekend before the season. It was truly awesome to see the progress all of our campers made in just a few short days!
KC Prologue Cross
With road season in the rearview mirror, it was time to get started with the cyclocross season. While many of my friends were heading to Madison for the Trek CXC Cup or out to Pennsylvania for the Nittany Lion CX, our team headed to Kansas City for the KC Prologue CX Cup.
Held at Blue Valley Park, the rolling hills and beautiful vistas of the surrounding valley provided a prime setting for a cyclocross race. The course itself made great use of the natural features of the land, with flowing downhills and several off-camber sections that required the most delicate of approaches. A well-balanced course to say the least.
Saturday’s race was hotter than usual cross conditions but a generous breeze offered some respite. The race started fast with Ben Stover of TradeWind Energy Cycling Team setting a fierce pace at the front. By the end of the first lap, the lead group was set at five – Dylan and I of Renewed Pro CX, Garrick Valverde and Ben of TradeWind Energy, and Britton Kusiak of Team Colavita/ Parisi Coffee.
The laps ticked on and the group slowly whittled down to Just Dylan, Garrick, and I left at the head of the race. With 5 laps to go, I put in a dig and opened a gap. I kept riding hard to increase my lead and with about 3 to go, Dylan made his way across the divide to join me at the front of the race. My early move left me with little energy left, but just enough to ensure the second spot on the podium. It was an awesome way to start the season, going 1-2 for Renewed Pro CX! Smiles all around, we called it an early night after a Mexican feast.
The sun broke of Day 2 and there were some moans and groans as we wobbled down to breakfast in the morning. “Cross back” is a real thing my friends! The course had a few changes that required some special attention. The barriers had moved to a slower, uphill location, and some slick off camber turns were added to the track.
The temps were about the same as the day before, requiring modifications to the long-sleeve skinsuit. The start of the race was a bit more tempered, with everyone looking around at each other trying to coax the other to make the pace. I put in a dig three laps into the race in an effort to separate our group of four – Ben, Garrick, Dylan, and myself – away from the rest of the pack. The laps wore on and eventually the leading group was three, just as the day before.
Dylan and I traded some accelerations trying to shake Garrick loose. But each time Garrick battled back to the wheel, refusing to let us get away – Chapeau to him! Dylan went to the front and set the tempo, putting in some accelerations through the technical sections. I had to battle back to the group, trying to ride smooth through the technical sections to catch the leaders.
Finally, with two laps to go I made my move, pushing from the back to the front just before a technical chicane. With some fresh air, I was able to take some fast lines and ride at a smooth tempo, hammering the hard parts of the course to get a gap. My efforts were successful as I made the final turn for home with enough time to zip up the skinsuit and post up. Dylan put in a big move on the last lap to push into 2nd place and make it another Renewed CX 1-2 finish!
There really wasn’t a better way to start the 2016 cyclocross season! From the support of our friends Chris and Dustin in the pits, to family, friends, and team sponsors, I was stoked to give something back in a race. Of course, results aren’t everything and I still have some things to work on. But for now I will rest easy and take some positive vibes from the first race of the year.
Next up is Jingle Cross in Iowa City. My first UCI cyclocross race two years ago, I’m looking forward to venturing up to Iowa and giving it another go – with two more years of experience – then line up with some of the world’s best cyclocrossers on Sunday and hope to not get lapped!