Smartwool Cup This is the third year that the United States Grand Prix (USGP) series has held October races in Ft. Collins, CO, an hour north of us. Fortunately, that’s Carl’s hometown and his Mom still lives there, so this is a favorite venue for us! The races are held in a large, sloping field in open space south of town, which results in a course that feels like it’s constantly either climbing or descending, with very little flat. Since it offers UCI points, the fields are large and fast and it gives us a great checkpoint as to where we are for the season.
What a difference a week makes! Last week’s performances left me really demoralized, and this is a tough race to look to for redemption. Friday evening and Saturday morning called for rain, and I was hopeful since otherwise the course would be really dry, bumpy, and dusty. We got some rain overnight, and in our preride early Saturday morning, conditions were tacky and fun, and the course flowed really well.
Since the 35+ is a premier event, it was held in the afternoon as the lead in to the Elite races. About 11am, the wind kicked up and it got really cold with heavy rain during the 45+ event. I felt a bit nervous about the conditions and whether I had enough warm clothes. Once I started my warmup, those disappeared as I felt really focused and confident. I took my place in the 8th row ready to rip.
Conditions on the course were really slick and muddy, and the key was to not follow the obvious line, but corner on the grass instead to get better traction. Numerous times I was able to rip past guys that had slid out in the turns. My Rhino tires were hooking up perfectly, allowing me to make up quite a few places throughout the race. In the end, I rolled in 62nd place, with fully regained confidence.
Sunday dawned clear and sunny, the course was slightly changed, but it was clear it would be fast and furious. During warmup, my legs were definitely tired from yesterday’s effort, but I tried to just put it out of my mind instead of inventing excuses. Once again I lined up way back. My start was not great, and most the field was ahead going onto the course. But the Typhoons were the perfect tire on the day and allowed me to rail the corners, gaining spots steadily through the race.
I’d slide back a bit on the climbing sections, but more than make up for it on the descents. In the end, I rolled in 60th place, again feeling really good about my ride.
I feel like I dug really deep in both races, and my legs are sore today, so I’m sure I’ll get a fitness payback for this effort in the coming weeks.
Last year during this weekend I rode in the Men’s Singlespeed event since I didn’t want to buy the extra license needed to race the Elite race. This year, I had the license BUT I had so much fun in the SS race last year I decided to do it again. Both days I had a front row callup…fairly wasted on me in this race but it did provide some great exposure for our sponsors and team! The guys were all very nice and encouraging, although there was definitely a little smack talk going on with my friends in the field!
Saturday was “hero” dirt, that made for incredible cornering. I had this for just over 2 laps and then the rain started to fall and make things slippery. I had a few guys around me so really tried to keep the pressure on. I managed to “chick” a few guys and race hard. Good day!
Sunday the course had dried out a bit and was FAST! I think that was the theme for all the races that day. I’m really amazed at how fast these guys can go with ONE gear. Truly impressive. I had another great day and was happy in general with my finish.
Overall it was a great weekend of training for me. But my favorite part of the weekend was hanging out with our friends in our racing community. Both days I had amazing support all over the course. Thank you to everyone for your voice and encouragement! You gave me wings.