The Cincy CX race is the third and final UCI C1 in the US and is, therefore, the last opportunity to see how you stack up against all the best CX racers in the US (and beyond) before Nationals in December. These factors elevate the event beyond the C2s that compose the remainder of the domestic calendar. The event has some added weight for me in that I totally flopped here last year. Last year we were treated to lots of rain through Friday night and into Saturday morning, which made for exceptionally slick course conditions. The Cincy course makes the slick conditions more difficult in that it includes a substantial amount of twisty off-cambers over and around the lumps of the park, requiring some delicate skill work and balance. Luckily for me, I got a pretty close ‘re-do’ this year, as Mother Nature played the same tune. Saturday was once again a day of slick conditions.
I was staged relatively far back and the first technical section was only 30-60s into the course, which meant the start would be critical if I didn’t want to get totally stuck in traffic. I’m a good starter and took a good number of spots before turning off the start stretch. But, approaching the first pinch point of the course – a series of tight corners and off-cambers – I resolved to stay put and keep my cool. You often see over-eager riders crashing and getting tangled with others while trying to fight through traffic in that part of the course. I settled into wherever I was, maybe somewhere between 20th and 25th and tried to be patient as chaos unfolded around me. I made it through the skirmish without incident but once it opened up the race was already starting to blow up. I was in limbo with no real group to latch onto, so I just rode as hard as I could and spent the following 15-20m of the race figuring out where the traction was on course.
While I did spend a good bit of time dialing lines during in pre-ride, these muddy days cause the lines to evolve as conditions change. The course had gotten slicker than it was in pre-ride, so riding against the tape and staying wide in the corners allowed me to find some grass. Once I gained some confidence in my line choices, I hit a good stride and could see riders a couple of turns ahead. I started catching people, riding with them for a few minutes each and then prying open gaps as best I could. In the final couple of laps, I became the hunted when teammates Caleb Schwartz and Brian Matter, started charging hard behind. This offered a good bit of motivation to leave it all out there and stay on the gas; that’s exactly what I did and was able to hold them off for one of my best C1 finishes to date – 20th place.
The team next heads to Northampton invitational on Nov. 9th and 10th.