State Championships, Monroe CX
The weather had cooled off nicely for the final 2 races of the series. I think it was around 34 when I got to Criswell Park in Monroe. I like to get to the venues early so i can ride for about an hour on the course and then warm up on the trainer.
The course was very different than last year. Gone was the top grass field that had 2 barrier sections. UCI rules eliminated multiple artificial barriers this year but that did not stop Jay from coming up with a very technical course. The start was on a narrow, long slightly downhill paved section that merged to the left on a grassy/sandy section that led to a steep grass downhill, a 180 around a tree, and then back up the other side. The hill was rideable in the big ring but I had to be in the 27 each time. After this we traversed a short grass section, more pavement between ball fields, a nice sharp 180 and back on pavement. We then had to go across a wood chip section that was part of a playground (dismount) and then over into the challenging adn controversial woods section that was really not up to UCI regs but fun anyway. Andy Johnson would have a huge advantage here on his mountain bike.
After the woods we had to dismount 2-3 times over the same ditch. I could ride each ditch but it was too risky in a crown. Again, Andy would have an advantage on his MTB. After this we meandered on grass to the final uphill paved section that would be the finish. Each lap was very long and it really gave my back a pounding.
On the line were myself, Perry, Dub and Dave. In additionto us (among others) were Brady Rogers (past state champ), Tony Scott (multiple masters state champ), and Andy Johnson (former National and state champ). Each of these guys could have been comfortable in the A category, but they were of age and could ride in masters also.
I went out hard and tried to be off the front a little through the first 180 turn where Perry and Dub crashed. I led about 40 yards for the whole first lap, jumpting the ditches. I was soon caught by Brady, Andy, Perry and Tony. We stayed together until lap 3 where in the woods, Andy accelerated and dropped us all. Tony soon jumped on the paved hill and tried to bridge. Pery, Brady and I were not able to follow. Soon we dropped Brady and were trying hard for Tony. Tony soon sat up and Andy was gone. Tony did not hang on to Perry and myself for very long and then it was just us chasing Andy.
We soon realized that Andy was not coming back and Perry tried to murder me a few times and I had my eyes popping trying to hang on to him. Towards the end of the race he and I were in rhythm and knew on the last lap that the uphill finish would decide 2nd and 3rd. After the wooden barrier section, I pulled along side of him and accelerated. We were side by side up the hill and then I was able to pull away for second.
Now, some said that it was bad form for Andy to ride this race and win the jersey. Some said he was a sandbagger. I used to get mad at the top caliber riders for doing this and many simply would never think of it. But, they are of age and are within their rights to be there. I also think that they were undertrained and at just as much risk of losing as Perry and myself. I will let the A riders criticize these guys for being there. I do not feel slighted and was happy with the race I rode and the result.