Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Elite Men National Championship - Kansas City, MO

Dec 14, 2008

Day two of nationals for me was the Elite race Sunday afternoon. The nice 50 degrees weather of the previous day was poised to take a nosedive. All the weather reports suggested that a cold front would roll in sometime in the afternoon. As I was packing the car at 10am, it was almost 60. When I left the hotel at 11am it felt like 50. Ten minutes later, parking the car at the race, it was about 30 degrees and still very windy. So much for a normal weather weekend in Kansas City. I felt a little tired while warming up, which did not bode well for a power course against the fastest racers in the country. Fortunately I had a large cheering section of sharks.

So instead of thinking how slow I was going and how cold I was, most of the race I was smiling and laughing at the crazy fans all over the course. A bunch of St Louis racers were gathered on the last run up, urging us on. Thanks for the big cheers!

How do you stay warm while wearing only short shorts? Push ups seemed to work well.

With a lap to go, the front of the race caught up to me. I placed 46th, and Josh ended up 55th. Not the best result ever, but overall this season has been my best yet. I look forward to some rest over the holidays before starting to prepare for next season.

Thanks to Mike Dawson for photos!

Monday, December 15, 2008

30-34 National Championships - Kansas City, MO

Dec 13, 2008

I arrive Friday night around 11pm in Kansas City. Saturday morning I got up to check out the course at 8am before the days racing began. The venue was new this year, at Tiffany Spring Park just south of KCI airport. The course was on the side of a hill, and it felt like 90% uphill/10% downhill. The mud of a few days ago dried into a smooth, tacky surface with lots of traction. Temperatures were in the high 40's even in the morning. The wind was gusty all weekend, from 20-30mph constantly.

At 11am Josh and I lined up for the Masters 30-34 race. I was on the front row thanks to early registration, while Josh was a few rows back. The start went really well for me:

I got into the first turn in the top ten riders, and passed a few guys before the climb began. My group started to pull away and by the end of lap one, I was sitting in about 5th place.

Josh was a little further back in the teens or 20's, held up by a crash at the start.

With 3 laps to go, my group was racing for 5th place, the final spot on the podium. The 4th place rider was about 20 seconds ahead, and the next group was 30 seconds behind. I needed to ride smart and somehow get a gap before the pavement. Winning a sprint with the other two would be unlikely.

With 2 laps to go I was second wheel, trying to conserve energy for the last lap. As we started the final lap, I moved to the front and tried several attacks on the climb. I did not quite have enough to get a large gap, and the group came back together.

Going into the barrier section, which is about not far from the final run up and finish line, I sat third. The group slowed a little, and I attacked with everything I had left! This resulted in a few seconds gap exiting the barriers. The next section was an uphill/downhill/uphill into a run up. I was caught near the run up and was back to third position. Entering the pavement I did not have anything left for the sprint and finished 7th place. Here is the sprint below:

In hindsight, maybe I should have waited until that run up to attack. Or maybe I should have just saved it for the sprint. But I gave it everything I had and am very happy to have placed in the top-10, one of my season goals. Josh ended up 14th, a few groups back.  Next year if Josh and I start well, I think we can both compete for the podium.

One more day of racing left- tomorrow is the Elite race.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Claw at Nationals

Here is Chris Clausen, aka "The Claw" being chased by a pod of blood (beer?) thirsty sharks.

As seen on Velonews.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Departing for Nationals today

I am leaving for KC after work today. If traffic is not too bad, I will get there in 4 hours. Here are a couple of sites to follow the race results (in order of best coverage):

CX Magazine



I have good starting spots for both days of races. In the Master's 30-34 race, I should start on the first row. For the the Elite race, my number is 41, which puts me in the 6th row. Josh is further back, due to later registration. If the course stays dry, he could move up pretty well if there is room to pass.

Current weather forecast is for warming temperatures, up to the 50's by Saturday afternoon and Sunday. There is a chance of rain both afternoons, but only 20%. It looks like a cold front is moving in Sunday evening, dropping temp's to the 30's.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Missouri State Championships - Hermann, MO

Dec 7, 2008

The second day in Hermann was the big race. It served as both the State Championships and the final race of the Bubba Series. The field was mostly the same as Saturday, with a couple of riders opting to race in different age group categories instead. I felt much better warming up and was ready to go.

The start:

By the sand section about half way into lap one, I had a gap . Only Joe from KC was able to close it down. Josh was stuck behind a crash and was chasing hard about 15 seconds back.

I was able to ride the sand every lap and gained about 5 seconds each time.

By lap three, Josh was getting closer, but still about 10 seconds back. I was able to get an advantage over Joe on the technical sections and decided to attack after the off camber section again, just like yesterday. This time I picked a careful line through the gravel and charged up the stair run up. By the time I went through the start area, the gap was up to 10 seconds.
Josh continued to chase and eventually caught Joe late in the race.

I was able to increase my lead to 35 seconds on the last lap. I focused on riding smart and smooth, to avoid the flat tire of yesterday. The crowd cheering on the stairs kept me going every lap.

I crossed the line with plenty of time to celebrate:

The final podium (1st- Nate, 2nd- Josh, 3rd- Joe):

I look forward to my final race weekend in Kansas City for the National Championships. My goal is for a top-10 in the Master's 30-34 race and a top-25 in the Elite Men's race.

Thanks to Jeff Yielding and Mike Dawson for pictures!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bubba #9 - Hermann, MO

Dec 6, 2008

The final weekend of local racing took place in beautiful Hermann, Missouri, an hour and a half's drive west of St Louis. This small town is home to many wineries and B & B's. It hosted a stage of the Tour of Missouri and the season opening cyclocross race under the lights back in September. Compared to last year, the weather was very nice- partly sunny skies and temps in the 40's by the afternoon. The field included handful of Kansas City racers, plus the usual St Louis group. Here is the start:

Early in the race, a group of six formed. The course was open to strong winds that were blowing around and several technical sections would cause splits in the group. Here is a tricky off camber turn that would challenge everyone all race:

The sand section was about 75 feet long:

The stair climb:

Eventually the group was whittled down to Josh, myself and Joseph Schmelz (Trek KC). About half way through the race, I got a gap on the tricky off camber turn. Entering the stair run up, I took a different line and SMACK! An unnoticed rock was in my path, causing a pinch flat on the front tire. It slowly started loosing air, but I was able to maintain my lead until the pit. I hopped on my spare bike and got back on the course as Josh and Joe passed me. I was pretty pissed about flatting a $100 tire on only its third race (fortunately later that night I was able to seal the puncture and raced successfully the next day).

After a few rounds of attacks and counter attacks, Josh and I were free on the final lap and crossed the line first and second (note the course tape blowing in the strong wind):

The final podium (1st- Josh, 2nd- Nate, 3rd- Joe):

Thanks to Jeff Yielding and Mike Dawson for pictures!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Videos from Jingle Cross

Elite races Saturday and Sunday:

From the Cat 2/3 race on Sunday (lots of crashes):

Another angle of the crash in the video above: