I’m not going to dwell anymore on what happened. Here’s my memories from Sunday. USAC screwed up the numbers for the Elite race. They are supposed to be in UCI point order, but they weren’t able to complete that task. Even just 15 minutes before the race, the call-up order was wrong. It was going to be the difference of being on the 2nd row or 3rd for me. Anyway, the UCI official fixed it on his own pretty quick.
The conditions were pretty bad at the start. Frozen ruts with wet mud everywhere. I decided to go with the Dugast Rhinos with a little over 30 psi. I knew it might be a risk with the sharp ice, but it was Nationals. Anyway, I got a pretty good start and left the pavement in the top 6. I passed a couple more guys at the first corner and settled in to getting my “sea legs”. It was mayham pretty much. I was riding around 6 or 8th the first half a lap and then disaster. I went into a rut and came out of it with no air in either tire. It was not far after the pit, so I had to ride the majority of a lap on two flat tires. Riders were going by me in droves. I came out of the pit in 54th place. I was thrilled to here that number. But, it was a solid line of guys in front of me. I rode pretty steady the next two laps and Trudi said that if I passed the next 10 guys I would be in the top 20. I passed a bunch of riders at once. They all seemed to be going so slow. Even those that were in the top 20. I’d be gaining a ton on them on the downhills, so I thought that they must be riding the uphill sections fast, but that wasn’t correct either.
Anyway, with 3 laps to go, I was 12 seconds out of 15th. I was kind of surprised I’d moved up that much having to go so slow around other riders. Now, I was thinking of still a top 10 result. Then, disaster number 2. Double flatted again. Same place, different rut. I’m not sure what the deal was. I wasn’t riding any different there than anywhere else. This time I was riding clinchers with Mud 2’s on them. That lap to the pit was pitiful. I had to walk nearly all the uphills and fell a few times since I was riding mainly on my rims. I got my other bike back with Dugast tires again, but I wasn’t so motivated anymore. I spent the last lap and 3/4 trying to watch the front of the race to see if Page was going to catch Johnson. Obviously, he didn’t.
I’m not sure if it was just bad luck or I was riding too heavy on my bike. I do know the conditions, especially the last half of the race, were perfect for me. I could get enough traction to climb the hills off my seat and the descents were tricky/slick. I looked at the results yesterday and realized that I was going pretty good. That is really all that matters, unless you win. I’d rather finish badly and be riding good than finish OK and be riding badly. There is one place at Elite Nationals. 1st. Everyone in contention knows that. So, til next year. Each day, Thursday-Sunday, the course changed significately. It was interesting. Next year, dry, fast grass I bet!
Pictures below- T.J. following me first half lap. More to come.