Thursday, November 19, 2009

Muddy Jersey

The third installment of USGP racing in New Jersey last weekend. Left on Thursday with Kaitie and our buddy Chris (who served as our mechanic for the weekend) for the 15 hour drive. Big Beaver Falls, PA served as our resting place for the night before finishing up the drive on Friday and picking up Marko at the airport in Philly. Linda also flew in and met us at the course for the preride. The preride was actually cancelled but we were on the road all day and did not realize this . . . so we rode anyway :)

Rain all day had left soft grassy ground primed to turn into thick mud. If the course had a chance to dry out it would have been flat, fast, and all about power. But it misted rain all night and we knew this would be a sort of deja vu experience from last year in NJ.

Headed into downtown Princeton for some tasty pizza at Cafe Theresa. It was a hopping place and we even ran into Meredith and Cody from Cal Giant who also decided pizza was a good prerace meal choice. Alas I forgot my camera but the highlight was Mark getting a pizza that had egg on it - called the Uova - it was pretty impressive.

Saturday we woke up to more misting rain and reports that the course was a mess. Bike changes were going to be key today and we were ready although poor Chris was a bit worried about having to help 3 of us in the womens race. This would be tricky. This year at least more of the course was rideable but there were still a couple sections you had to run. It was thick, grassy mud that quickly bogged down the drivetrain and wheels - ick.

I'm going to keep the report brief. Huge field here this weekend - except for Compton - all the top riders were present. Getting anywhere near a top 10 would be awesome. I had a great start - clipped in, up in the top 10, and then we hit the muck. I was doing alright and just trying to get through the mud. I was in the top 15 for awhile but decided to not take a bike change until the third lap. This was likely a mistake as it was getting clogged up. There were about three sections you had to run and this was definitely slowing me down as well. I was at least happy to not fall down at all today. I was balancing fairly well through the slop and my lines (while not fast!!) at least kept me upright. I ended up 19th on the day with Linda finishing an impressive 12th and Kaitie 14th. Not super happy with the result but so it goes. I'm trying to improve my technical, muddy skills but that's a slow process for me! Thanks Chris for all your help in the pit! Trying to help out 3 ladies in one race is a feat and he did a great job!

We cleaned up and watched the guys race. Another slogfest and Mark finished 19th.

We then headed over to Linda's friend's house for dinner. She cooked us up a bunch of pasta which was awesome.

Thanks for the dinner Anjou!

We headed back to the hotel and made ourselves some dessert. Smores!

Sunday the sun was out and the course dried out a bit. It was definitely tackier and would make for a faster race but it was still soft and messy. Luckily dry enough that the bikes didn't get bogged down and getting bike changes would not be necessary.

Another good start for me. That has long been a problem for me and I was happy to have a weekend where that wasn't an issue. I didn't exactly get the hole shot but going into the grass in the top 10 is good enough for me. A muddy 180 turn with a slight hill caused many to dismount and clogged things up a bit. I picked off a few riders and just tried to take advantage of the straights. There were some muddy turns that I was taking awful lines through. I felt ridiculously slow and after the race Kaitie told me she was running them. She was riding like a rockstar, by the way, KFA is her new nickname. Doesn't quite have the ring to it that KFC does but you get the point. She ended up a very strong 10th place and nabbed the last UCI point spot. Linda passed me on the last lap to finish 13th and I was 14th. An improvement and given the field of tough riders I'll take it. Check out the team blog for more pictures, links to various reports, and full results.

PB girls post race

We cooled down, cleaned up, and watched some of the guys race. Marko in action

The fans were pretty good throughout the weekend and by the stair run up the cheering was great. During the races they stuck chips and dollar bills in the mud for riders to grab. Odd but funny.

Dorito and dollar bill alley

We had to hit the road right after the mens race so that we could drop Mark off in Philly and he could catch his flight. A quick stop at a Chipotle after that for some burritos and then began the long drive home. Made it to Akron, OH on Sunday night and then finished the rest on Monday.

And now we're hitting the road again! This time to North Carolina for some racing in Hendersonville. These are UCI events and are generally not attended by lots of people so it's a good opportunity for us to go after some points. Kaitie, Linda, James, and myself will make the trip down. We'll be staying with my KENDA teammate Kat for the weekend and I can't wait to see her!

Thanks to all of the sponsors for making all this travel and racing possible - Edge, Lazer, Ridley, TRP, and especially Planet Bike. Thanks also to Chris for all his help this weekend!
And thanks to everyone who still checks in to see if I've posted yet - sorry to be such a slacker about updating!

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