Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 4 and 5 at Natz

Its been 'cross all day everyday. What an awesome week so far. On Friday, Connie and i got up early to get out to the the frozen tundra of a course to see Emma White (CBRC) and her brother Curtis (Clif Bar Cyclocross Development Team) race. Emma's race was early.... 8 AM, and it was like zero degrees out. Emma got a great start and the race quckly turned into a two person race between Emma and a girl from Albequerque New Mexico. Emma came out of the wooded section in first place and then crashed on an easy left hander just prior to crossing the road to the 'lower' part of the course. The two girls battled back and forth. Each taking turns sliding out on corners and taking over the lead position. On the last lap, Emma was in front but crashed hard approaching the barriers and the other girl took over first place. On a snowy uphill approach to the road that linked the course to the steep icy uphill, the girl from NM slid and was on the ground, Emma was just about to go around, when Emma got caught up in a tape post at the same troublesome spot. Now all that was left in the race was the tricky uphill 'horse shoe' climb, a bumpy icy downhill and then a pavement blast to the finish line. NM girl had maybe a 20 meter lead on the pavement, but Emma was charging. At the right hand turn onto the finish stretch, Emma had closed the gap to about 5 bike lengths and she was smoking. Emma finished about a bike length back for a well deserved Silver medal. This race turned out to be one of the most exciting races of the day.

Next up was Curtis. Curtis was lined up in the 4th row due to some inexplicable computer glitch. No matter, because after the gun went off, Curtis had blown through rows 3 and then row 2. He was top ten after the first corner. He and team mate Nate Morse rode cleanly through much of the first part of the race, taking some chances, pushing hard, but limiting encounters with the icy ground. After a couple of laps, Curtis had moved up to fourth place, but still had a large gap to close, which he did, eventually catching the wheel of the 3rd place racer. In the last 500 meters of the course, Curtis marked his target. In the same location where Emma and her competitor had bobbled, Curtis made a move and attacked the 3rd place guy, getting around him before that tricky uphill horse shoe hill. Curtis knew that he needed to be ahead of this guy on the hill and he made that happen, and that sealed 3rd place for Curtis. Another great race.

At 11 AM the single speed dudes raced and that brought the biggest and loudest crowds so far. I am still trying to understand the whole single speed thing. I think next year i'll try it. It may stick, and it may not. What a gorgeous day though.... brilliant blue skies, frigid cold, loud boisterous crowds, and cross, cross, cross.

New Yorkers Ruth Sherman ( Corning Race Team) and Margaret Thompson (Hammer Nutrition) each earned bronze medals later in the day. New Englander Jonny Bold took the Championship jersey in the Men's 45-49 race.

Later in the evening we dined with the White family at a very cool place in town called McMenamins.

The schedule for day 5 allowed Connie and i to sleep late and have a nice leisurely breakfast at the hotel, and the rest of the morning was a good time for me to pack up the bikes. My race on Thurs was in such frigid weather that my bike was free of any real mud or grime and the pit bike was spotless. The bikes went into the box a whole lot easier this time and soon we were off to the afternoon races. Today (Saturday) was quite a bit warmer. The temps had climbed up to 40 degrees. The course was now getting greasy. No real mud as the ground was still frozen hard from the previous week's extreme low temps. We watched Danny Summerhill win the U23 mens race. In the Men's 35-34 race, Nathaniel Ward ( / Joes Garage) had a front row slot on the start line and took advantage of it by taking the hole shot. Nathaniel was in first place after the first few turns of the race. About midway, N Ward slid on the grozen grass and his right hand shifter snapped in half when it enccountered a pole. Tough luck for N Ward. New Englander Matt Kraus (Richard Sachs RGM Watches) had a great ride taking 9th place in a race of almost 150 racers.

Night time events: closed out of the World Premier of The Cyclocross Meeting, a film to be shown at the Tower theatre in downtown.... sold out! ... bummer. Dinner was take out from the Typhoon, a Thai resturant! So unlike me, but it was good.

Tomorrow, its Women and Men Elite.

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