This race was originally scheduled for a mostly grass course at a park in Aurora, but due to snow, was moved at the last minute to a more natural park in Castlerock. We were psyched, since grassy courses don't suit us that well, but once we got to the venue and saw the course, we were really excited! The course featured lots of short, punchy climbs, and many 180 degree turns. Just the technical type of course we enjoy. Carl raced Saturday, while Nick and Kristal were scheduled to go on Sunday. Carl's Report:
When we arrived at the venue, we learned that the large flyover they had built was going to be out of play for my race. The morning categories had tried to ride it, but it was covered with astroturf and since it was damp, was completely slick. Riders were making it halfway up, the sliding down backwards. So, the morning races wouldn't use it until they bought 1"x2"s to nail across it for traction.
The course featured the same 1/4 mile paved climb for the start as the race earlier this season at the same venue and I was determined to not let it beat me before the race even started. Due to timing, I decided to race the 45+ Open race. Since I had only done 1 other race in this category, I didn't have any callup points, so ended up on the back row out of 50 riders. No problem--I was primed and ready to go!
I dug hard at the start and tried to make some progress. I was about mid 30's by the top of the climb when we dove onto singletrack. I rode a very aggressive race, passing at every opportunity, knowing I needed to make progress fast before the front of the race rode away. I probably didn't make any new friends, but made my way steadily forward. Soon I found my good friend Harold, and knew I was with the fast guys now. I managed to dice it back and forth with riders in the top 20, and finally finished in 17th. Given my start position, I'm happy with that, and feel like it sets me up well for Nationals, where I'll definitely have to be ready to pass people!
For the kid's race, they ran the course only on the lower half to avoid the big climbs. They still had muddy conditions to deal with however. Nick got a great start, heading off the pavement in 2nd place. He soon paid for that, though, as he blew a bit and drifted backwards, having some trouble breathing.
We were able to watch him on the twisty far side of the course and he was amazingly smooth on the descents! Both laps, he gained about 50' on nearby riders in a 200' turning descent. Guess he has Dad's skills and small engine. He eventually rolled across in 12th place, which secured our team (which is just him) 3rd place in the overall standings in his category.
States…this race has been a mental nemesis of mine over the last few years, I haven't had good races. This year I was determined to break this cycle. I knew all the fast girls, including several pros, were going to be there. The steep flyover (30°! Steeper than most black diamond ski slopes) was going to be part of our course.
So on Saturday when the course was opened I prerode and tried the flyover…several times, but didn't make it. I was about 3' short from the top each time. I received numerous tips and lots of support. I went home that night visualizing the course and particularly that flyover. I knew I was going to get it.
Sunday morning I was excited and raring to go. I headed out to preride, focusing on the muddy conditions and that darned flyover. I came into it with a good amount of speed and believing I could ride it…I DID IT! After 2 more times, I completely believed I could ride it during the race.
As expected, Nicole Duke, last year's champion and incredibly fast mom (#2 ranked in the country), was there, along with several other fast girls. We took off up the long paved climb and I was in around 10th. The course was made up of incredibly thick mud that provided no rest. I began to move up through the field and found myself in 4th. In 3rd was Flora Duffy, a pro triathlete who I've been very competitive with all season. I thought for sure I would catch her but she rode a terrific race for 3rd. Well done Flora! I rode a clean, hard race and was very happy with my finish in 4th place.