Cyclocross National Champs

CX Nats 2017Photo: Catherine Fegan-Kim (fb) @cottonsox (twitter) @cottonsox_photo (instagram)

I finally made it back to a cyclocross National Championship for the first time in nearly five years and what a race it was. Now normally I’ve already had a month off and am starting my base training but with the PROXCT not starting until April in 2017 and some forced time off the bike not having to train for any big stage races this fall it was a great opportunity to get back on the CX scene.

I had a late start not jumping into my first event until the NY Supercross Cup around Thanksgiving but then I got in some good racing in early December with Ruts and Guts plus the Resolution Cup. I felt like my form was building well and I had hoped to be able to race all the way to Nationals but with 3 weeks of no National level racing I had to improvise. I did a great weekend of racing in Phoenix at the AZ state champs and left 2 weeks of Tucson group rides, The Shootout and Tuesday ride to get my suffering in. I did achieve a lot of suffering and was optomistic heading to Hartford about my chances. The one thing I was worried about other then not having raced any big CX races for a few weeks was the weather. Normally I do well in mud and snow but being in Tucson leading up to the race I was hoping for slightly warmer temperatures. It’s tough in the winter, you want to be acclimated to the cold for the races but in order to get in good training it’s help if you can ride outside for more then an hour at a time.

I arrived in Hartford late Thursday night to dry roads and coldish temperatures. By Friday morning the roads were covered with snow and it was maybe 28 degrees. Saturday it snowed all day dropping almost 6 inches and the mercury didn’t break 22 F. The course was treacherous and after training on Saturday evening after the days races it was entirely ice/snow and nearly un passable in some sections, even on foot, I think ice skates would have been more appropriate. That night Myron did some modifications to my shoes.

The sun managed to come out on Sunday and turned the icy Bonk Breaker hill from ice to ice and mud, turned out I didn’t even need the screws for traction. They did take out most of the hill that required crampons from the previous day even after the snow softened up though. It was the coldest day yet, high of 18 and by the time the race finished, the sun had gone down and I’d be surprised it if was above single digits.

So let’s get on to the race. I had a 3rd row start which isn’t bad but isn’t optimal. We hit Bonk Breaker hill about 1 minute after the gun fired and I knew I was in trouble as I was standing still at the top as we funneled into the single track. I was probably around 20 and I think the only guy that had a worse start then me was JPows because he was right in front of me and had started on the front row.

I managed to move up through the first 1/3 of the race making my way up to 8th place before I could no longer see anyone in front of me and the guys behind were dropping into the distance as well. I kept my head down and pushed on for the rest of the race but would eventually finish 8th, 2:49 down on winner Hyde, nearly 1 minute behind 7th place Jonathan Page and I think nearly a minute in front of Kid Kaiser in 9th. I spent most of the race by myself which really sucks in CX race, the best part of this type of racing is duking it out with the other racers.

img_20170110_130038Big “Thank You” to Troy Lee Designs customizing my lid for the race.

A lot of people have asked me if I was happy with my race. After you’ve won a race, especially a few times you’re never totally satisfied unless you equal that result. I knew it was going to be tough to win but I really wanted to be part of the race. I would rather be attacking, chasing, making the race and then blow up and not be able to finish then just ride around and not factor which I what I ended up doing on Sunday. I was healthy going in, had a great build up, felt good, didn’t have any crashes and my bike worked flawlessly in tough conditions. I stayed focused, pushed the whole time and had amazing support as always so for that I’m satisfied.

Bike Setup: Scott Addict CX, SRAM HydroCX1 42 11/32, Mud tires front 24, rear 26, Zipp 202s, Ice friction treated chain(worked perfect in frigid conditions) Crankbrothers Egg Beater 11s(worked perfect in the ice, many other people were unable to clip in by mid race even forced to swap bikes to get their pedals to work, no problems for me).

I have officially partnered with some new companies for 2017 and I used nearly all of them this weekend. I’ll start with Julbo, used the Aero glasses with the Red Zebra light fire lenses. Worked great in the low light and snow, also didn’t have any fogging problems which can plague me in cold weather since I run it pretty hot.
CX Nats 17Photo: Catherine Fegan-Kim (fb) @cottonsox (twitter) @cottonsox_photo (instagram)

I’m also officially onboard with Topical Edge. I really believe in the benefits of lactic buffers and this is by far the easiest and most effective way to load it I’ve found. The company is great and has the science to back it up, I don’t need to see the science I can feel it work.
I have joined forces with Ice Friction for all of my racing, not just big ones like Leadville and Breck Epic. I feel like I’m getting even more spoiled riding around with a super slippery white chain, cassette and chain ring but I’m not complaining.
I’ve been working with the guys at Sound Probiotics too since I had to spend some time this fall on antibiotics, I wanted to make sure I got my gut straight. I think if you’re looking for a probiotic they’ve got the right mix to keep your stomach good which in turn keeps the rest of you healthy.

So that is my 2017 update, the rest is staying pretty much the same. I can’t thank SRAM, Scott, TLD, Clif Bar and all my other sponsors enough for their support. Feeling very honored and blessed to continue to be able to chase my dream, do what I love and call it a job in 2017.

I’ve got a little break planned before I get going with my training for the upcoming mountain bike season. Coop, Meg and I played a little golf yesterday to get it started.

I’m off to Northern California for the Bear Development Camp on Friday, it’s so cool to see so many passionate people involved in our sport. Always feel lucky when I’m invited to ride with the future generations of mountain bikers. Hope they take it easy on me. After that I have a little more downtime before I ramp up the training and host my mountain bike camp here in Tucson with the Cycling House the first week of February. From there maybe I’ll start my season here in Tucson on the road with Colossal Cave or the TBC. Last year Lochlan Mortan won the TBC, now he’s on Dimension Data, not a bad way to start the season riding from my house to a race with guys of that caliber(though painful). And then I get back in the dirt with the first PROXCT in CA.
I wonder how much snow Purg got this week……..

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