For me Nationals was a disaster. I went into the race riding the high of a win at the last USGP in Bend and increasing fitness. The course conditions were good for me and I was ready to go. On race day I decided to take one last lap on the course before the race. Dismounting to run up the stairs I heard a pop from my calf and my race was over. A tear in my calf muscle ended my quest for a National Championship before the race even started. Mark had a great race and ran a close 2nd to Pete Weber, learning a little more about how Pete races. Jay and Matt had great races as well and Katie won for the 9th time.
Between Nationals and Worlds I spent most of my time trying to rehab my leg in hopes of racing at Worlds. By the time we were heading to Worlds my calf was about 75% healed and my doctor gave me the ok to race. Actually, he would of preferred another 2-3 weeks to get it totally healed but knew telling me not to race wouldn't stop me from trying.
So off we went to Louisville and Masters Cyclocross Worlds. I'm not going into details on how USA Cycling dropped the ball on this event. I'll just say that from the day we got the the Masters venue to the day the event was over there were issues. In fact, it quickly became something of a joke between Mark and I. No matter what happened we were determined to roll with whatever the issue was and deal with it.
The weather was all across the board from 60 and sunny to 12 and snowing. That meant mud, frozen ruts, and more mud. Qualifying races went well for both Mark and I, Mark won and I got 3rd putting us both on the front row of our races. I wasn't overly confident going into my race with so much time off the bike due to the injury but I was going to do my best. I got a good start but after the first turn it was a struggle. The consistency of the mud was either peanut butter or wet cement and nobody was going anywhere fast. In fact Steve Tilford won our 40 minute race while riding only 3 laps. My race was a battle with myself, after the start I had dropped back to 8th and was slowly working my way to the front of the field. At Worlds only the top 3 are on the podium and it was clear I wasn't going to make it up that far so mentally I was done half way through the race. I did nearly get by the guy in 4th but ended up 5th.
Friday was Mark's race, the reason we were at Worlds. Last year Mark was 3rd at Worlds and this year he had a real chance to win. When we arrived at the venue we walked the course and found it crunchy and frozen on top with soft mud underneath. There were a number of places where the mud had frozen into ruts that were solid as well. While we were walking we discovered the frozen power washers and knew it was going to be a bucket day. At this point we didn't think that Mark needed to ride the course but after checking out later in the day we decided he had to get out on the course. This was about an hour before his race so it was a scramble for Rafal and I to get the back up bike clean by race time. Prior to the race Mark and I discussed when we would pit, tire selection, ect... and then it was time for me to head for the pit. To say the pit was chaos during the race would be an understatement. But we were prepared, buckets, brushes, anti freeze, rags, everything we needed to clean the bikes. Overall I would have to say that taking a bike every lap instead every half lap was a factor. At a half lap we had a functioning bike but by time he came by to take a bike we had a clean bike. Rafal and I busted our butts during the race but to watch him cross the line as World Champion was awesome.
Rafal and I after the race with the winning bikes. I have never been this dirty after a race.
Mark getting interviewed after the win.
I can't even describe how fun the Elite races were on Saturday. So many people, so much noise, and the riders put on a show.
The 360 boys were hanging out
Good to see former KC rider Brad Cole
Good times, time to take a little break and then get ready for the road/mtb season.