Two peanut butter cups for two great races in Derby City!
Day 2, Pan-American Champs. Race Report:
As I rode up to the starting line of the Pan American Champs, I made a beeline for the far right side, best spot on the 2nd row! Prerace, I had assumed that I would have a 2nd row call-up (same as the day before in that field). So, all of my mental race prep started there (pun intended). When my name was announced to roll up, I did see the empty spot on the far left of the front line, paused, but then decided to stick with my plan: take the first position on the 2nd row to the far right, and forego my spot in the front row.
Why? It was not, as I joked on the starting line, to avoid having my bike (Van Dessel #FTB), my tread (Clement "Donnelly" PDX), and my pearly whites (Smile p/b Chesterfield Dental) Instagrammed by @cyclocross Magazine! Instead, 3 thoughts went through my mind:
1) My start from the same position on the 2nd row in Saturday's Derby City Cup was one of my best ever, because of my line choice on the first sweeping left-hander.
2) I'm not exactly known for my fast starts, but I do have a #Van_Deisel engine that burns hot.
3) Mental race prep is paramount!
When the whistle sounded, Sofia, an up-and-coming rider for DNA-Pivot, who then got to line up on the front row instead of me, did not disappoint (she and I along with Claire Honsinger from Team S&M mixed it up at Jingle Cross for the podium earlier in the season). From her position, she nabbed the hole shot. And, I van-dieseled my way into a top position at the first corner, and an even better position as we hit the stairs for the fly-over.
By the end of the first lap, after getting jammed up a bit by a two-person tangle of riders in front of me on a sloppy climb, and bobbling my remount after the first off-camber, I was "off to the races", as they say, just outside the Top 10 in a loosely formed group of four riders. I began railing through the banked and muddy turns, powering up the heavy earthen endless climbs, and flat out running and sailing back onto the bike after every dismount. I moved ahead of the group and starting looking at the race in front of me. I heard and saw #DougEFresh in the pits at every pass calling out my position relative to the riders in front of me. Moving up 1-2 spots per lap. And then, with one to go, I made contact with 6th, with 5th in sight!
The race became slightly tactical after that, with me pushing my strengths early in that last lap, and Maghalie Rochette gapping me just a bit with her superior mountain bike-honed downhill skills when we approached the backside of the course. But I remained dogged! And didn't give much up on the climbs until just before the last set of barriers when she found her reserves and motored a gap. We finished 6th and 7th in a race filled with attrition.
Endless thank yous to Edwin at Van Dessel and all my Van Dessel teammates who showed up to race in force this weekend! Also, I never cease to marvel at the ease of throwing my CX bike up on the @FeedbackSports Omnium Trainer before and after a race like this one when proper warmup and cooldown are so important. Props to @trijones and the rest of the Kuat Racks team for setting up a home away from home at the race venue. And, because I know you want it...
Here you go!