The Alma GP is a race that has been on my radar for a long time. It is perfect timing and also a perfect little town to base myself out of for the week leading up to the ‘Cross Vegas world Cup’.
About 5 months ago JB (the race promotor) contacted me in regards to coming over to the US and doing his State level race prior to WC#1. At first I was skeptical and asked a few of my fellow Australian friends if they had also been contacted. Soon plans were made and flights were booked, It became evident that JB was very enthusiastic and would do anything to support us for our stay at Alma. The hospitality and friendly locals were amazing. Helping us with anything and everything we needed. We cannoth Thank them all enough!
We held a skill clinic and rode a ridiculous amount of laps around the course prior to the race so that it was all warn in for the competitors come race day. It was good to get a few skill sessions in during the week with consistent days on the CX bike making it feel like and extension of your body.
That day had arrived, after many laps around the course and trying to get a sub 5 minute lap it was time to see what we could really do. Riding into the event site we had our own ‘Aussie’ tent set up so we could catch some shade prior to the race. This is where we spent most of our time preparing our bikes and talking to local riders before the race. After a couple of laps and adjustment to my tire pressures I got Garrett from The Cyclocoss Network CX Team to check over my bike and adjust the gears so that I could focus 100 percent on the race at hand.
I completed my normal warm up and followed my nutrition plan prior to the race as I would not be using a drink bottle this time. I headed to the start area where everyone was already assembled and stayed outside the tape knowing that we would be called up pretty early. Soon enough the call up started and I was first so I chose my line careful making sure I was on the warn race line. After a few minutes of commentary from Scott Deadenback we were in the starters hands.
‘Bang’the gun goes off.
I got a great start, calming the hole shot and taking a very wide line into the first corner, hitting the apex before lining up for the next tighter corner. For the first Lap I was on the front setting the pace until I swung off letting team mate Tom Chapman set the pace. We had a small lead of three second back to third, fourth and fifth. As the course flowed around the venue we managed to keep an eye on the gap that we had and were doing just enough to keep away until the rider would eventually start to fatigue. The gap opened up a little and give us a little breathing space to work with for the next few laps.
Lap after lap we got faster and faster starting to shave time off every lap getting closer and closer to that allusive sub 5 min lap. A few attacks later and running into lapped traffic started to make it a very tactical race. Trying to time an attack with a gap in the traffic was starting to become hard with very even gaps forming across the field. I watched carefuly, noting were I felt strong and where Tom didn’t or seemed like he was breathing heavy. I kept in mind that in a certain section of the course I was going a little bit faster and then in others I was slower.
The laps ran down and with just over three to go I launched an attack managing to get a few bike lengths. We were both on our limits and you could hear the tires rolling underneath as they were only being held on by the glue on the rim. Up and over the rollers and running the steps trying to do everything perfect. I crossed the line with one lap to go managing to pull out the fastest lap of the day, A 4:58. Charging for the finish line trying not to make a mistake with Tom less than five second behind. All it would take was a small slip and he was back on. Making my way into the last few obstacles I took it extra careful and a little slower making sure that I stayed upright before heading into the finish straight and taking the Victory.
It was a hard fought battle with Tom and it was great training for both of us heading into the Cross Vegas World Cup on the coming Wednesday. Thanks again to everyone that helped us Aussies in Alma and we all hope to see you next year.
Cheers Chris Aitken
Check out our Vlog from the Alma GP below
Have a look at the race documentary too.