here is a report of the Cross Nationals in Rhode Island from my brother marc....
(not my photos here either)
When CX nationals were announced for Providence, my first thoughts were that maybe this would be a good year to check out Natz, and my second thought was hoping it wouldn't be a winter wonderland. As the race approach it seemed likely that there would be snow and hopes changed to wishing for nice dry snow and not a course refrozen into an ice rink. Thursday I skipped out of work early, loaded my gear, and drove my kids up to their grandparents in NJ- so that my wife wouldn't be stuck alone with them all weekend. This detour around rush hour plus road work in CT extended my trip so that I got in late and tired to Providence. I was crashing with Todd Pittman and Kevin McCarthy (and old college chum of joel's), and it was great to pop right in to the official hotel of the race, the swanky Providence Biltmore- kind of odd to see all the bikes being wheeled around and crossers lounging gin their athletic garb. I knew the forecast was for snow overnight, and part of me wanted to just sleep in. My only chance to practice before my 11:00am race would be the 8-9am slot, and I figured I needed to pre-ride more than I needed the sleep. The mantra we used to use was that it was sleep the night before the night before that matter- so getting up a little under-rested wouldn't be a problem. As it turned out, getting out to the course before the crowds was a big bonus- I found a parking space easily very close the course, which allowed me to pop back to the car to swap equipment clothes, and to just warm up. I picked up my number then grabbed my bike for some practice. The snow was coming down a couple inches deep, but riding it wasn't too bad. I called Todd to give him a race report and told him it says something when they are laying down wet leaves to improve the traction. I was a little tentative on some of the downhills and turns, so I decided to change from my usual tufos to Michelin muds, for the extra confidence and traction. I could just barely ride up anything that didn't have barriers that forced a dismount, but I worried that while tired I would want a lower gear. So, after a little internal debate I decided to swap my chainring for a smaller one (I'd been using a 42 x 12-27 all season but changed to a spare 38T I had around). Changing out equipment without a chance to test it can be risky, but I figured I wouldn't miss the biggest gear and going a little lower could be a help. At the start it was still snowing (here's a pict from Kirk reisinger). I'm in the 2nd row, far left My plan was to try to go out hard and be towards the front on the first turn. I had 'earned' my starting spot by signing up early. ( I was number 18, and each row held 14 people). off we go... (I'm in the middle, #18) after the uphill snow covered pavement the course took a hard right into the snow-covered grass. things bunched up here on the frist lap, but I was still ok as we hit the fun roller-coaster section they called the candy bowl. for the most part I was able to stay out of trouble and work my way slowly up the field in the first couple laps. here's some velo news shots from early in my race: After a lap or 2 things were more strung out. Looking back I couldn't really see anyone chasing me. Actually, I couldn't see anything- my glasses were so fogged up I threw them on the side of the trail. I was able to work my way past a few people. Passed John Lux, who was complaining to a by-stander that he couldn't clip in to his pedal (that sucks, but Tim Johnson ripped his cleat out of his shoe and still made the elite podium...). Spectators were telling me I was in the top 25, which sounded pretty cool. By this point the snow had turned to rain, I was just looking to finish strong but without any stupid mistakes. Found myself playing cat and mouse with 2 super-stars of the masters cross scene (multiple CX champ james coats and andy applegate). Coats (the #3 seed) would fly by me on the fast sections then slow to a creep on the turns. apparently he doesn't like snow...as the pace sped up in the last lap I couldn't quite hang with those guys, but finished less than 10 seconds behind Applegate. in the end, 24th of 115 starters in 40-44. (150+ had signed up, but perhaps the weather discouraged some?) Although I really didn't know what to expect performance-wise coming into this race, I don't think I could have predicted a top 25 finish. My fitness is ok but not great right now, and I never really ride on snow much. But I think I was pretty relaxed out there and didn't fight the course. I went in with a pretty positive frame of mind to have fun out there, and maybe that is part of the reason it went well. And maybe the slower conditions suited me. After my race I was pretty wet and worried about getting too cold, so after the race I picked up my clothes and bike from the pit and went to warm up in my car. After changing into dry clothes I came back to watch the 1pm race, the 35-39. The weather for this race was the worst of the weekend- snow turned to sleet and driving rain. Everyone seemed to struggle with frozen hands (except for maybe the guy I saw peel off after the starting sprint- when everyone turned onto the course, he just rode on straight for his car). It was really brutal. I got to cheer on Marc Vettori, who along with me and Roger Masse, managed 24th place. And Chris Scott pulled out a top 20 finish. Todd Pittman had a hard time in the cold and wasn't too happy with his 43rd, but he and Kevin gutted it out while 50 people didn't even finish. The weather was was pretty crazy, and they post-poned the rest of the day's racing after that. The elite race on sunday was awesome- the course was perfect for spectating and the weather was nice. Todd Wells kicked butt on the slick course over a strong but less comfortable ryan trebon and an ailing jonathon page. fantastic watching those guy up close. I didn't stick around for sunday, but katie compton was denied a call-up but dominated anyway.
one year to get ready for next time!