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November 30, 2010

Finally Cold in Ft. Collins

Just when I was getting used to racing in warm weather, Mother Nature finally admitted the summer was over. It’s OK, I like racing when it’s cold and you probably won’t get heat exhaustion when it’s 34°F and snowing. Tim and I had another very early start to the weekend of November 12th when we caught a 6 AM flight to Denver. Everything went smoothly and we were able to stretch our legs at the Boulder Reservoir by early afternoon. This ride marked the first time this season that I had to wear anything other than a jersey, shorts and armwarmers. My collection of winter clothing from Blackbottoms Cyclewear finally got put to use!

The weekend’s races were the third stop in the USGP series. New Belgium Brewing stepped up as a sponsor and the USGP organizers built a challenging course. Snow earlier in the week melted into slippery peanut-butter-like mud making the off camber turns extra tricky. I was excited for the mud because I’d finally get to use my FMB Gripo XL Pro tires in the conditions they were meant for. Although the course itself was fun, the venue doesn’t get high marks in my book for accessibility. Getting from parking to registration required two course crossings and getting to the pit required three course crossings and ducking under the course tape. Tim couldn’t be a photographer this weekend because I needed a pit crew (though he did get some photos of the men’s race on Sunday). He did an excellent job making sure my bikes were clean and working all weekend.

Saturday’s race started off with a large crash taking out several top contenders in the first few seconds. I was lucky to miss the crash and during the first lap moved up into the battle for seventh and eight place. For a few laps Katy Curtis (second at Canadian Nationals) and I traded places several times. She gapped me on technical corners and I would pull ahead on the pedaling sections. Everything seemed set for a top ten finish until I imploded on the last lap and got passed by a few ladies. My legs had enough and pedaling up one of the climbs it felt like they were filled with angry bees. Katy passed me on the finish stretch when I couldn’t even stand up to chase, and subsequently I rolled in for 11th place.

Sunday I was ready to roll again – my bikes were ready to ride after a thorough cleaning after dark in a snowstorm. The course had dried out over night and some new grass sections were added making for a faster overall course. I snuck onto the front row for the start and in the first few seconds managed to blow the advantage. My body wasn’t working right and I was stuck in slow motion for the first few minutes of the race. Racer after racer passed me and I slid back into the low twenty places. Halfway through the first lap something kicked in and everything went back to normal speed. By the end of the race I worked my way up to 14th – not where I’d like to finish, but better than where I was. To make up for a not-so-good race, I got to hang out with my cousin, his wife and their three little girls, and spectate the men’s race.

It was a tough weekend and I looked forward to some time at home to rest, train and prepare for the last few races of the season.

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