Per usual, blog is coming to you a bit late. After Worlds I had to jump back into school and catch up on everything, which meant this took a backseat.
On January 5th, I drove from Wisconsin back to Indiana. Then on the 7th I flew from Indy to Phoenix for a training camp with my coach Brian Matter, in Prescott, AZ. At the end of the second week we headed back down to Phoenix for Bear Pro Team camp. Click the barely visible scroll arrow on the right side to see more photos.
It was great to get acquainted with new teammates, hang out with old ones, and stack some more solid miles in the sun. On Monday the 20th I flew home to Indy, Tuesday I went to class and packed everything up, and on Wednesday I flew out for Europe.
After some smooth travel across the pond and two days in Sittard, NED where USAC has their home base, we headed to Hoogerheide on Saturday the 25th. Pre-ride was crazy fast and Challenge Chicanes were the tire of choice.
Sunday it was full gas. Right from the gun I got boxed out by a guy and was at the very back. I managed to avoid a crash on the start straight but had to slam the brakes and lost a few spots.
After pit one I was about 5th from last out of 48 riders. In the next off camber and subsequent right hand corner there were two big pile ups. I was far enough back at that point I missed them and was able to ride through cleanly, making up about ten spots.
The rest of the first lap was brutal, but I avoided the carnage and soon found the legs were strong. I moved up steadily a few spots each lap. The pace was so high and the course was so fast that it was essentially pack racing. With a few laps to go I found myself almost up to the large, strung out front group and inside the top 20.
The legs were still strong and going into the final lap I caught up to Gage Hecht, with Eric Brunner right behind me. We managed to keep riding clean and avoid more crashes ahead of us. Up the final climb just after the barriers I hit the gas around Gage and another rider or two. I went into the final drop and stair-set with a small gap on him, but ran into the back of two Belgians and got stuck. As a result Gage made an incredible pass on the big off-camber and he finished 13th, I was 14th, and Eric was 15th. In hindsight I should have ran right around those two Belgians on the stairs and sealed the deal for what would have been 11th or possibly 10th place. But at the time I was pretty far in the red and didn't want to push it so hard that I crashed in the final off-camber. Nonetheless, the possibilities of what I could have done just a little better haunted me for a few days.
All in all, I could have hardly asked for a better race. After six weeks since my last race including a two week break after nationals and then basically mtb base miles I was not sure what to expect. In fact, with it being my first U23 World Cup, I really had no expectations and sometimes that can lead to a great day on the bike! (All Hoogerheide photos by Ethan Glading)
Dubendorf World Championships
On Wednesday after the World Cup everyone piled into the USA Cycling vans and we drove the six hours south to Switzerland.
Thursday I went for a spin with Gage, Friday I pre-rode and then Saturday it was all in.
The course was not the most exciting thing in the world to say the least. But either way, I had to race and so did everyone else. When it comes to something like that there's no use wasting energy griping about it because you can't change a thing.
I started in the 4th row and when that light turned green we took off like a rocket. I got pushed back in the first corner off of the pavement, but that likely kept me from getting caught up in some crashes in the next few corners. Unfortunately I was wayyy back in the field and needed to get to work.
Through pit one I was right around 40th place, going into lap two just outside of on the top 30, lap three the top 30, and lap 4 the top 25. In the 5 and 6th lap I I tacked myself on to the back of the group of four fighting for 18th. Unfortunately right before they caught the next group which was fighting for 14th place I had a small dab in an off-camber and lost them. In the final lap I nipped one more rider at the line to finish 21st.
(Above photos by Lewis Gregory. Hit the barely visible scroll arrow on the right to see more. ) It was certainly a good day, but I was still a little disappointed. I didn't go to the World Championships looking for a good day, I was truly hoping for a special ride. But, I rode smooth and consistently with no major mistakes, and the legs were solid but just not exceptional. All things considered I'm happy now with how my first U23 Worlds went. With essentially no European U23 CX experience I had a lot to learn, and learn a lot I did. The fire is burning bright for next season.
With this post my cross season is officially concluded. Now I have to give a huge thank you one more time to my friends, family, my coach Brian Matter, my team Linear Sport RT, Violich Farms, Englewood Grass Farm, Challenge Tires, Mike’s Mix, and JM Coaching Group as well as Trek, Bontrager, Wheel & Sprocket, Styled Aesthetic, and David Hobbs Honda.
Special thanks to Steve Welk and Julia Violich for the amazing team support which really made this season possible. Thank you to Chad Brown for helping me make it to Europe for this block. Thanks to Michael Kubancsek, John Hoopingarner, and Dean Peterson from Marian University for their mechanical and logistical support. Finally, thank you to Jesse Anthony and the whole USAC staff for making this trip so memorable and well supported. The Mud Fund is doing great things.