After nearly 37 hours of travel three flights a temporarily lost passport and visa issues we had finally made it to the United States. It was going to be a great couple of week traveling around the states racing with my team mates Tom Chapman and Jack Hogan. Our first races would be only two days after arriving at Rochester in New York State which meant we could have possible jet lag. The race course was about a 30 minute ride from our accommodation in the city. We would have to carry anything we wanted including wheels pumps tools and water on our backs as we couldn’t afford to hire a car for the whole duration of the trip.
Lining up on the start line on the 5th row back looking forward and seeing the guys that I would normally watch at home on my computer was another thing and then I realized that I now have to race them. Trying to focus on what I had to do was a struggle with 40 degree temperatures coming from the Australian winter was a huge shift. I snapped back to what was happening and were I was just as the gun went off.
All of a sudden a momentous rush of adrenalin flooded my body giving me extra energy as we sprinted up the start straight and onto the first climb. I held myself back knowing that if I don’t I will end up blowing up as I wasn’t quite acclimatized to these racing conditions yet. There was riders everywhere one that stood out was Cody ‘the kid’ Kaisser (see his video here). I knew he was a solid rider so I found his wheel and stuck to it like glue making sure that I didn’t lose any positions. The course was very hilly with one major climb that took over 3 minutes to ascend. The locals called this race the Alp D’huez of CX due to its huge elevation gain every lap.
As we turned to start the main climb I realized very quickly that everyone her was good not just the top 10 like back home. Even siting in a top 20 position was tough as most of them were pro and this is what they do day in day out. Although my heart rate was through the roof I tried to stay calm and hit all my lines not letting any gaps form in front of me.
Coming around for the second lap it felt like there was a fire in my throat and I couldn’t put it out as I was one of the few racing without a bottle. (Bad mistake on my behalf) I struggled on for the next few laps going back and forth with a number of riders as we would find our stronger points on the course.
Coming into the pallet steps and uphill barriers I tried to ride them every time as it was too hard to get off my bike and then get back on. When you would ride a technical feature on the course the crowd would go nuts even if you’re not the leaders because you showed that you have the skills to do it and that’s what they loved.
As the race went on I started to really struggle and was not holding the early pace that I set myself. This may be from the Jet lag or heat or no bottle but whatever was happening it was like someone flicked a switch and my lights went out. I was cooked and had no fuel left in the tank.
The leaders were getting ever closer and I was starting to fall into the 80% rule. Coming around with two laps to go I was pulled out by and official just behind Jonathan Page. It’s tough getting pulled out of a race when you’re not in a good state. I left the pits and headed to find some water and sit in some shade to try and work out what just happened and how I was going to fix this before tomorrow’s race.
Once I cooled down and could think straight again I realized that it was a combination of things that lead to me ultimately being pulled and I would need to address these prior to and during the race tomorrow. All in all it was good to be pulled out as it made me take a step back and have a look at what was really going on.
Tomorrow is a new day, new strategy and new race so I’m going to go out there and put these ideas into practice.
See you tomorrow
Check out my course preview video below !!!