When Trek decided cyclocross was too big to ignore, they jumped in with both feet. First, they started up the Trek Cyclocross Collective and hired Katie Compton. Then they stepped up to save the USGP series last year. The USGP folded this year, but Trek picked up the old Planet Bike Cup. The twist is, they moved it to the Trek HQ in Waterloo, about 12 miles away from the old Sun Prairie location. (As a side note, I think it’s amazing that a UCI ‘cross race used to happen 12 miles from their HQ and they had next to no involvement in the discipline.) Anyways, I was pretty excited to check out the new course and registered pretty early to be a part. I tried something I’d never done before, and signed up for 3 races over the course of the two days — 2 singlespeed races and 1 geared race. The geared race was my first Cat 2/3 race, which was going to make the whole thing even more interesting.
Number pickup was a breeze with the extra bonus of getting to geek out over all the cool bikes Trek has in their atrium: Katie Compton’s bike from Louisville, Fabian Cancellara’s Roubaix bike, Jan Bakelant’s Tour de France bike… Good stuff! It was also great that they used the same numbers if you rode in the same race both days.
So, the Saturday singlespeed race. It was amazing to see so much Twin Six and METAL in that race. There was even another guy riding the Raleigh Dark Horse SS frame like mine. I actually led out the eventual winner, Craig Etheridge, for all of 100 meters before he blew by me. I had a terrible start, like I always do. Then I started to pick a couple of people off here an there until I settled into 15th place out of 25. A singlespeed lady was just ahead of me for a huge chunk of the race and while I could have passed her during the last lap, I chose not to. Her supporters were just all over the course and telling her to post up for the clean win. So what was I supposed to do, sprint past her to screw up her victory picture? Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen.
All told, I was happy. Given that it was only my third singlespeed race ever, and that it was against such tough competition, I was completely pleased.
So my wife and I returned to the car, ate a sandwich and took naps. I got ready for the next race and they lined us up. I knew I was in trouble pretty much from the whistle. Most people flew past me and I just wasn’t feeling it in my legs. As the race progressed, I was slipping back and back and back. I started wondering if I was going to get pulled. Part of me didn’t want to get pulled — I had paid for that race! I was trying as hard as I can! A bigger part of me was simply thinking, “I feel awful. I will finish this race if they let me, but I would be pretty okay if I get pulled.” Sure enough, with 2 laps to go, the officials ushered me off. After such a successful year last year, cleaning up in Cat 4, it was some considerable humble pie to get so completely schooled in that race.
What went wrong? I think I was tired from the singlespeed race. I think it was an incredibly fast field. I think it’s possible that my brake was dragging, but that’s just me looking for some kind of excuse. I was running my Kenda Slant Sixes at 27 psi front and 28 psi rear, which seemed pretty good.
After a good night’s sleep, we were back at it on Sunday. I don’t think the temperatures were that much warmer on Sunday, but the sunshine made a huge difference. I’ve always had a better race on Sunday than on Saturday. This was no exception. I ended up 13th and felt much better. Everything worked really well together, though my hands were getting pretty raw from the SRAM hoods on the Dark Horse.
Trek pulled out all the stops for the kids. Bouncy castles, face painting and even a mechanical bull. I wouldn’t hesitate going back again. I would however, choose just one race per day. I just can’t handle more than that!
So thanks, Trek. Thanks for a good course, for a great experience, for putting some of your considerable resources into ‘cross. I’ll be back — and I’ll be ready to handle that Cat 2/3 race next time!