So this weekend Matt Baroli, Jeff Weinert, and I headed down to the UCI races in Ohio. I drove down to Matt's house on Friday night so we could get an early start on Saturday morning. The ride to the Java Johnnie's UCI race Saturday went faster than I thought. Saturday would prove to be the first time I've had to wear my LS skinsuit because of the temperature. The course was twisty beyond belief, which didn't exactly suit my riding style the most.
I got a great start (3rd into the first turn) but quickly the two juniors from Papa John's put the hammer down and I slid back to the chase group. There were only one set of barriers to navigate, and they were on an uphill section meaning there would be no braking while racing into the barriers. Down and up another hill brought you into the sand volley-ball pit with a 90 degree turn in it for fun.
When I was with a group I managed to do ok through that section (not great...just ok) but I would find out watching other races that there were much more efficient ways to get through all that sand. Check one up for the "learned something" box.
At the end of the day I finished 7th out of 30 or so, which was respectable. I was hoping for a top 5 but I just didn't have it on that course with those competitors.
Sunday brought about a HUGELY different course than Saturday's course. Harbin Park is 1) Gigantic and 2) Hilly and fast. This course had a very difficult off-camber turn within 300 m of the starting line, so I pretty much knew the top 5 would be a necessity on the first lap. I applied some good advice from Saturday's event to Sunday's start, and sure enough I got the whole shot. 1st into that corner definitely helped, but I would soon fall victim to the two Papa John's juniors again.
This course was crazy fast, and even though it had some nice power sections, there were enough technical fast turns to make it not my favorite (but better than Saturday's!). At the end of the day I ended up with a group of 3 others racing for 8th place. I lost that battle in the sand on the last lap (again...sand gets me) and took 11th. 11th doesn't sound so good, but when you line up with almost 60 guys it isn't so bad.
Important thing #1 from this weekend was that I had an absolutely great time. Important thing #2 from this weekend was that I learned more from this weekend than I have all 'cross season. Knowledge is everything when it comes to 'cross. I guess fitness is important too. And bike-handling skills. Ok knowledge must be up there pretty high anyway.