The time had finally arrived for my first ever CX World Cup. I had raced here last year but it was not classed as a world cup and that meant all but 1 of the top 20 UCI ranked riders would be attending. Usually I would sit in my room late at night watching the live feed of the riders that I was about to take on and race against and they are fast.
We arrived at the Desert Breeze Soccer Complex nice and early in the afternoon, making sure we had plenty of time to relax and practice the course. We then checked that our bikes were set up perfectly for the conditions. Lucky enough Focus Bikes USA set up a tent in the team’s area letting us base our self out of it for the night. Our tent was right in between the Telenet Fidea and Raleigh Clement, putting us in prime position to see what the bigger teams do prior to the race. Soon enough the sun started to set and the crowd flooded in the gates, building the atmosphere for the industry races.
The elite men’s race was due to kick off at 9:30pm making for a very long night. I started to get ready at 8:15 pm making sure my tire pressure hadn’t changed with the drop in temperature and putting my number on my kit before I started to go out for a long warm. I knew that they would be calling us up about 15min prior to the scheduled start time as there was a lot of riders to get through. I warmed up behind the team’s parking area where there wasn’t many people other than staff and volunteer’s because trying to ride near the course is almost impossible as there is too many spectators.
The call up began and as I expected I was going to be on the back row having very few Elite UCI CX points to my name. I was called up around 60ish and knew that I was going to be a very tough race to even finish. I looked around for some familiar faces that I had seen on race footage previously and I could see Ryan Trebon and Adam Craig nearby so my main goal for the first lap was to stick by them and follow were they were passing riders. I knew that these two had posted great results in the past so I was hoping that they were up to that again.
The countdown was on and we had the starting lights half way down the start straight. It was like a V8 supercar race with all the riders waiting for the green and then bang it was on riders going everywhere people missing pedals and slipping gears. The crowd erupted as we raced past I moved up around the right side trying to get onto Trebon’s wheel.
Making our way around the first lap it was all together and very dusty in the peloton. Coming down into ‘the bowl’ and up the SRAM stairs someone had crashed causing people to get off and run. I tried to keep my cool and not waste any energy knowing that I would need every little bit for the last few laps. It was all single file the leaders were not really getting any more gap and no one was really dropping the wheel in front but the pace was on. The whole first lap I just wanted to stay out of trouble and keep it rubber side down until I could see a chance were I could make up positions. Coming into the start of the second lap I used the riders in front to sit on as there was a very strong headwind and then at the end of the straight I would pass when they were starting to slow and make my way to the next rider in front.
Half way around the lap and I could see I had not lost any ground on the front group as I could see Svens fluro bike going past in the same spot as the lap prior so that gave me a positive boost and I continued to try and save as much energy as I could, while not losing contact with the group that was starting to form in front. A couple of laps passed and I made my way past a few more riders trying to keep as close to the front of the race as I could. The year prior when I competed I got pulled out by the 80% rule with one lap to go and this time I was making sure that this was not going to happen. I Pushed on the climbs and tried to ride every set of stairs as smooth as I could. Coming toward the final set of stairs of the lap I managed to get caught up in my pedal as I was dismounting to run. A rider fell in front and I got tangled up and tripped at the bottom of the stairs. Luckily I wasn’t hurt but the crowd loved it and then started Heckling.
With less than four laps to go there was a very excited group of men on the far side of the course near the tree major climbs and they had some of the best Heckling I have ever experienced in a CX race. From the ‘drop in our Aussie Dollar’ to ‘Getting a new PM’ and also ‘that we had to catch a 12hr flight to get here’. As much pain I was in it was almost a distraction from what was going on around me.
Two laps to go and I was feeling great I had got some energy back and started to really move along. I attacked the group I was in and started to catch the riders in front feeling strong on the climbs and also riding the stairs smooth and fast but that didn’t last long as the bell was ringing in my ears it was almost like the lights had been turned off. I found myself cramping in the quads and not bunny hopping the stars properly. My legs decided that they didn’t want to move anymore. A few riders passed me including Geoff Kabush a very respected Canadian MTB rider, As I made my way to the finish I was greeted by some excited folk yelling ‘jump it’ as I rolled up to the final over pass. Because I was nearly at the end of the race I thought it would be a great idea to get a little air of the downside of the over pass. I ended up landing at the bottom of the down ramp (a very big drop on a CX bike) and the Spectators loved it but my body didn’t.
I crossed the line in 49th place and still finishing on the lead lap. I was happy with my result as these are the best in the world and it is there job to ride a bike. I now know where I stand in the big picture and look forward to the hard yards ahead trying to achieve that dream result.
Until next time
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