Sunday, October 26, 2008

From Belgium to Kentucky: USGP Derby City Cup, October 25-26, 2008


Aside from one day of pouring rain, I can't complain about being in KY. The fall colors are spectacular, jet lag was much better coming this way, I have a delightful host and it appeared I would be wearing #1 for the weekend. Kind of a scary thought. But that is what doing an early world cup does for you. Lots of UCI points. So, because of this number, I had to be present at the number presentation on Friday night. A new experience for me. I expected no one to be there, but I walked into a room that had upwards of 100 people. Hmmmm. I guess having number pick up at the same location helps attendance. So, I received my #1. Yep, I would line up front row and center. I hoped I could do the number a bit of justice, even if it wasn't #1.
My number presenters. On the right (my left) is Edie Webb, cyclocross' future.

USGP#1: Saturday
Although it poured rain for hours on Friday, the course was definitely not muddy. It was fast and dry. Damn. I went early and made the quick decision on tires (as if I had a lot of choice with me), got my bike dialed at the Cannondale booth (thank you!!!) and then on the course for warm up. Riding prior to the masters race, I ended up going full speed, face first into the sand pit. There was a huge hole and I was avoiding the girl on my right and BAM! I was down. My bike stopped, I went forward face first into the sand and the saddle came down right on my butt, leaving a very tender spot. Someone asked me if I was o.k. I said, "I don't know, you tell me". My face hurt, I was spitting out sand, blood came out of my nose, but I was fine. A bit sore, shaken up and now scared of that damn hole! Wearing #1 apparently also carries certain expectations from organizers. I guess in reality, I was a podium contender, because someone from the race organization came and told me about the podium presentation and where it would be directly after the race. I was flattered.
Call ups were like none other I have experienced. I had first choice. Oh, what to do??? Front and center, I positioned myself for a good start, but oops, that didn't happen. I was slow off the line, not even close to getting the hole shot and worked my way through the first few corners aggressively enough to make that front selection. I knew Georgia and Katerina would be joining the front soon, so I figured I had better get myself positioned. By the barriers, it was a group of 5. Not too long after that, it was a group of 4, then the attacking started in earnest and then there was a group of 3 and I was not in it. I couldn't respond again, and I got popped. In the wind, by myself, trying to hold on and push through the pain. I felt myself slowing on the last laps, but I did maintain a comfortable 4th. My best USGP finish ever, but it left me wanting more.
Day one in the pain cave.

USGP#2:Sunday
No warm up crashes today. It was a bit warmer, the course was even dryer and just changed slightly from the day before. I almost had a great start, attempting to get the hole shot when I just about bit it after I came out of my right pedal. Note to self: tighten right pedal. I recovered nicely, didn't take anyone out and didn't take myself out. WHEW. And I made the initial selection toward the front and then we got to the barriers, and down went Amy D. I swung to avoid her and almost took myself out in the process. Catastrophe #2 avoided. Devon Haskell had gotten out front and led for a while and then at the first opportunity, it was the same four off the front. I sat in, mostly in 4th, just trying to do as little work as possible, but that meant getting yo-yo'd on every corner. I stayed with it, but then it happened. Popped again. It was on the green monster, I think, or maybe not. I really don't remember, but I do know that there I was again for over 2 laps by myself, in the wind. I kept telling myself, 'anything can happen' and tried to push even harder, but it was in vain. I would finish exactly where I was the day before. Yes, a comfortable gap on 5th, but in no mans land by myself in 4th. It is great to be riding in that front group and I stayed a little longer today. Perhaps I will sometime be able to stay the entire race. One can only hope!
Day 2 before the real pain started.

My gracious pit crew: Drew! Thanks!

The super fan was there! They have one in Louisville.

These guys were an awesome cheering section for me! Great Halloween spirit too!!!

And my gracious host, Kiet! Thanks Kiet. You can tell from the look on his face that hosting me was quite a task!

2 comments:

StevenCX said...

Congratulations!

Kiet said...

Seriously, I don't remember you taking that pic!! Too much wine I guess... :-P You are always welcome back in the ville or wherever my domicile resides... Take care :)