What would a trip across Western Kansas be without a picture of the wind turbine farm. The fact that when the blade went to the top it would be obscured by the low cloud deck gave us a clue as to what the weather would be like for the trip. Hit a little rain on the way but the real clue was the falling temps.
We arrived at the venue in plenty of time to get our spot for the trailer and get the tents up before the course opened up. We had a prime spot where the course went right by the tent and the pit was just on the other side. Sure makes shuttling bikes much easier. The pre -ride had me a little worried. With a bit of snow on the course and a prediction of above freezing temps it was going to get muddy. The other issue was the climbing, lots of climbing. We got out on the course and got some laps in and then a few of us decided to ride back to our host house. Pretty amusing ride. With sunlight fading we rode off with sketchy directions...........and each one of us thought the other had a phone, DUH! Naturally we got lost and ended up begging a high school girl to use her phone to call Logan for directions.
Saturday arrived and we found the course to be loaded with frozen ruts and with the rising temps, a bit of slimy mud on top. Just like the Louisville USGP I was going into the weekend hoping for a miracle. The knee was better but a bout with vertigo/head pain the past week had kept me off the bike and on the bed/couch for a week. Warming up I was pretty flat and just had a hard time getting the legs going. After a good start I was running in the top 5 when I got cross rutted and went sailing over the bars and through the tape. Hit my head and was pretty dazed but I also jacked up my knee and shoulder......again. It took a lap to get back up to speed but I worked my way back into the top 5 before crashing again. Trying to make up time on the leaders when the course is muddy, rutted, and frozen is rough and I think I fell 6 times, hard to tell, it's difficult to keep count after a while. By the last lap I had worked my way back to the front of the race and passed 3 guys at once to slide into 3rd, only to fall near the end of the lap and give the positions back. Ended up 6th and feeling pretty rough. A little fuzzy in the head, a knee that wouldn't straighten, and another shoulder injury. Then it was time to get to work for the rest of team in the pits and prepping bikes.
Shadd on the course Sunday.
Sunday, for me the day dawned with a killer headache, a really sore shoulder, and a improving knee. The organizers had made some changes to the course and as I pre-rode it seemed to suit my riding style a little better than Saturdays course. More of a bike handlers course that rewarded line selection. Off the start I slotted in 6th or 7th coming off the pavement. In the first turn the the leader crashed and took out 2nd place. A few turns later the new leader fell and slowed the other riders ahead of me so I jumped and got into the lead. From there on out I just focused on riding smooth as I knew I couldn't afford to fall on my shoulder. With just one slow speed crash and consistent lap times I managed to pull away for the win. It's nice to win and I needed it. I had dropped to 3rd in the overall series after Saturdays race and the win put me back in 2nd.
After my race it was time to get to work and get the guys ready for the 35+ race. We had 5 riders in the race I figured it was going to busy in the pits. As it turned out we didn't have much action as the race as course conditions had improved. The race itself was pretty fun to watch. From the pits we could see that Shadd was battling for a spot in the top five for most of the race and in the last 2 laps was catching 3rd place. In the last lap the battle was on for 3rd place and with a well planned attack Shadd rode away to take the place!
Shadd standing on the podium with a current and former National Champions, could this be the year?
Unfortunately, the weekend ended up on a bit of a bummer note. In the Elite/U-23 race Joe crashed and hit his head hard. Pretty scary moment and the decision to take the ambulance ride to the hospital was a good one. In the end in was determined that he had a serious concussion but was able to travel back with us.
Overall the weekend was a success for the whole team. The riders rode well in challenging conditions and everybody pitched in help when it was needed. I really have to thank my teammate Logan. He's off the bike after hand surgery but he was the go to guy for everything. In the muddy conditions he was our key guy getting bikes washed and ready for the next exchange so I could focus on keeping track of the riders. On top of all the work he did for the team he also let us set up camp at his house for the weekend. I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to have the whole crew in the same place where we can cook, hang out, and generally do whatever we want.
Last but not least. I want to say thanks to all of the former and present folks from Neb/Kansas who were out cheering at the races. I had a great time catching up with all the folks that have moved to the Denver/Ft Collins area. It race had a bit a hometown feel to it with all of the familiar voices in the crowd.
So now it's a week off to heal and then Jingle Cross, Portland, and Nationals!