Second weekend of USGP racing in Louisville. We loaded up the van on Friday morning and a good crew of Planet Bikers headed down to Kentucky. We had several junior riders come with us which was pretty cool. The Planet Bike team has so much talent across so many ages and it's awesome when a bunch of us can come together and race. This weekend we had Emma (age 12), Jordan (age 14), and Sarah (age 14) plus our Elite junior Kaitie (age 17). Marko and myself both raced Elite and then Bob and Greg came out for the Masters races. Mechanic David and Jordan's dad Jim rounded out the group and helped us out all weekend.
After driving in the rain the entire morning it was nice to see the sun as we crossed the Ohio River in Louisville.
Always a good idea to see the course before the race and we enjoyed the 70 degree temps and got in a preride.
Totally flat course with lots of straight power stretches. Soggy, spongy grass with a few muddy ditches and a couple of packed down sand pits. And who could forget about the Green Monster.
Not really as bad as it might seem - the steps are huge though and hoisting your bike up (when you're short like me!) is no easy feat. You also have to be careful not to clip your pedal on the ramp as you fly down - often unclipped.
We got a little muddy on the preride - we tried to stay clean but at some point we just gave up and tried to have fun with it.
After cleaning up and checking in at the hotel we headed out to grab some dinner at PF Chang's. Had a really fun time with everyone and we even finished things off with the Great Wall of Chocolate - 2 of them to be exact.
We had a little competition - 4 adults vs. 4 juniors - who could polish off the wall first? I'm proud and somewhat surprised to say we whooped up on those kids.
The next morning Jim and the juniors headed off to the venue early for the races. Katie and I slept in, ate breakfast, and watched some MTV - we're lazy Elite racers and drove out to the course a bit later. We were pleased to hear that Jordan won the Boys 15-16, Emma won the Girls 10-14, and Sarah was 3rd in the Womens 3/4. Way to go everyone!
We made it to the course and watched the guys finish their masters races - Greg won the 55+ race by a huge margin. Bob was 9th in the 45+. Not bad for a guy who had spent the week overseas on business! Kaitie and I warmed up on trainers and got ready for the race - the sun even peeked out and with temps in the upper 50s the conditions were perfect.
Kaitie and I both got front row call ups in the field of about 40 riders. It was great to see and catch up with lots of fellow racers - the USGPs always have a good turnout. Off we go and the muddy ditches soon after the start caused a bit of a bottleneck. I had a decent start and was maybe 12th through the first set of barriers. I tried to move through some riders on the first lap and settled into the top 10 by the start of the second lap.
By the third lap I was 9th and saw Sue Butler just in front of me. Sue is a really strong rider and I knew she was having an off day. I tried to pass her quickly and continue moving up. As I heard bell lap I saw Alison Sydor maybe 10 seconds up on me. photo thanks to Dave McElwaineI tried to take advantage of the straightaways and bridged up to her. The possibility of taking 6th place seemed very real and I tried to take advantage. I came around her with half a lap to go but couldn't shake her and she came back around as we headed up the Green Monster the final time. She came back around me and I tried to stick to her wheel through the last twisty, muddy sections. As we came out on the road she turned on the gas and I couldn't come around. I crossed the line in 7th - solid.
Kaitie rode really well and finished in 10th for the final UCI points spot.
The race was a blast - it was just muddy enough to be fun. Bike didn't get bogged down and you still got to play around in some sloppy sections. And being more of a power rider the soft, flat sections suited me well. Kaitie and I post race.
We ditched our dirty bikes and went and cooled down on the clean pit bikes. There's this awesome road near the course that was beautiful with all the colorful leaves.After our ride we cleaned up and headed out to watch the Elite men race.
The junior Planet Bike riders are rock stars. They got up early, raced early, and then hung out on course the entire day to watch the rest of the races. Here are Emma and Sarah during the Mens race.
Marko had a solid race. He wasn't feeling super good but he still managed to finish 13th which is still points for guys at a C1 event. You can see the muddy straights were getting good and rutty by the end of the day.
Post race we loaded up the vehicles and chilled at the hotel for a bit before getting dinner together at a local Mexican restaurant. Another fun night with the team and we relaxed for a bit back at the hotel before calling it a night. So last week we Punk'd Linda by hiding her bike on her and I knew that more pranks would be pulled as the season went on. So I'm crawling into bed and as I sit on the edge of the bed (in the dark room!) I feel all these weird cold things in my bed. Kaitie had put a bunch of juice boxes under the covers - I was pretty confused!
Watch out Kaitie - you're next! Actually Jim got her Sunday morning by putting sausages from the continental breakfast in her boots - eww!
The juniors again made us proud on Sunday with more great finishes - Jordan repeated and won again, Emma was 2nd, and Sarah won the womens 3/4. Greg also won the 55+. Way to go everyone!
Temps were a bit warmer on Sunday and again the sun was out so the course was a bit drier and faster. A few changes to the course had us go through a muddy section with a stair run up and then through a sloppy puddle that had formed from the bike wash near the pit.
Off we go. I had one of my best starts of the year. Clipped in immediately and was sitting in 7th place through the first set of barriers. A group of 5 had formed and Amy Dombroski and I were chasing after them - actually I was desperately trying to stick to Amy's wheel!
By the end of the first lap she had gapped me slightly and I was riding alone. This was pretty much the entire race for me. And I even took a dollar hand up on the second lap - the guy made it so easy! I was feeling slightly worse than Saturday and found myself slowing down a bit and with just under 2 laps to go was passed by Kari Studley.
On the last lap I was trying to stick with her and at one point went through the tape and off course. Luckily I stayed on the bike, lifted up another section of tape, and rode back onto the course. But my hopes of retaking 7th were gone and I just tried to stay smooth and finished 8th.
Kaitie (rocking the white skinsuit!) had another strong race and finished 10th again after attacking Devon on the last lap. Nice riding Kaitie!
Another really fun race! The USGP events always seem to have a good crowd of specators and the announcers also really make for an exciting race. We had some Wisconsin folks travel down to Kentucky also and it's always great to hear people yelling your name.
We again grabbed some recovery drink and clean bikes and headed out for a cool down. This time with Devon for company. We miss having her in the Midwest!
Required muddy leg shot.
We cleaned up and went to cheer on Marko in the Mens Elite race. He was feeling better today and had a good ride to finish 10th.
And that was pretty much the weekend! We hit the road for the 7 hour drive back home and made it to Madison just before midnight. All in all a really fun weekend of racing - great to have such a big crew of PB riders and lots of success for the entire team. Thanks so much to Bob and Planet Bike for the support. Also huge thanks to David and Jim for all of their help throughout the weekend. Most of the photos are also thanks to Lyne Lamoureux - I can't say enough great things about her beautiful shots. I always admire the folks that travel across country covering bike races and putting photos up online. Check out Podium in Sight for excellent photos/reports.
The next couple of weekends will be spent at local events. We almost made the trip out to Boulder for some UCI races but after hearing about the wicked snowstorm that's hit the area with nearly 3 feet of snow I think we made a good choice! It's been a crazy month of travel and it will be nice to stay home before things ramp up mid November into Nationals. Thanks so much for stopping by!