Monday, December 19, 2011

USGP Derby City Cup

This past weekend (SORRY, THIS WAS HALF WRITTEN AND NOT POSTED FOR A WHILE) was the USGP Derby City Cup and guess what that means? This one weekend each year, we Louisvillians don't have to drive to the big race - the big race comes to us! That's right, just 4.2 miles from my front door! And guess what else?! The course is in the same park as the 2013 World Championships!

To get right to the results part - did I do it? Was I able to beat the Race Predictor? Yes and no.

We begin with the Yes on Saturday. On the start line, excuse me, from well behind the start line in seventh row I was mentally and psychologically not interested in racing. My body felt fine with an easy-ish week after Cincy3. I lined up on the left after watching the Elite Men start at Java Johnny's the previous weekend and from the gun all that mental and psychological bullshit went out the window. Instinct took over and I stomped on the pedals picking my way through holes along the left edge to the front. Within 200m I found myself seventh wheel leaving the pavement and quickly moved up to the front group before the flyover a third of the way into lap one.
Rachel's Drop © Tom Moran
By the end of the lap it was a two man battle between Thatcher Hurt and me. We worked well together to extend our gap to Josh Prater over the next lap and likely would have played nice until the final half a lap had I not stopped thinking and overlapped his wheel in an uphill sandpit. That opened a small gap, but enough for him to pull away and end my hopes at the top step for the day. In all honesty, he was stronger in the straights while we rode together, so I'm not sure the results were changed any by the wheel overlap.

With one lap to go there was a sizeable gap up to Thatcher and what seemed to be a manageable gap back to Josh so I time trialed, that's what cross is right? Then with half a lap to go, Josh was catching me - but that was ok, I knew I just had to come onto the pavement with him and odds were in my favor. Only he wasn't alone - a group of two caught him at the same time and they pulled up beside me. I looked over, realized it wasn't Josh and thought, "Oh shit!" The game plan suddenly had a wrench thrown into it and I struggled to hang onto the group. Eventually I fought my way into the middle of the group, only to have one of the guys make a questionable pass with less than ten turns to the finish.

I knew the last three turns and final run up well and knew I had to make my move on foot. I made one pass over the hump before the run up and coasted up against the back of Josh and another guy as we dismounted. I dug in and instead of remounting at the top of the hill, I kept running - right past both of them and remounted into the penultimate turn where there was only one decent line. From there I just had to keep it upright through the last off camber turn and let it rip for 180m. And that's just what I did for my second consecutive 2nd place finish on a Saturday in a pretty stacked 2/3 race!
Saturday's sprint for Second © Tom Moran
The predictor said 12th so I'm +10 places....until Sunday, when it said 13th.


Sunday, the predictor was off by one place, and not in the direction I'd hoped. I got a decent start, and even managed to get within a few seconds of the front of the race (Jason Monk). At some point there was a small mishap in the rideable sand causing a dismount and (not sure if it was before or after) some issues with my rear derailleur. It got to the point that I couldn't stand out of corners not knowing if I was going to drop a couple gears or not, so I went in and had a clean pit exchange. As I exited, I began to wonder how I raced my B bike last year and loved it. It's too long and a good bit heavier than my race bike, and honestly I was thinking too much. Implossion. Mentally, physically, the whole deal. I slid from top five to almost 25 in a lap!

I got back on my A bike with just over a lap to go, refocussed and let it rip. I managed to take back a few places from friends, including Ian McShane (I could sense the grin on his face when he passed me earlier) and kept charging forward finishing 14th. It wasn't what I wanted for the day, but to finish back to back weekends and five races with four top fives, it was a dream weekend!

We capped the weekend off with a bottle of SRAM Force, as Myerson called it....

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