Race Report from Russell Harding
The effect of the Colorado Cross Cup has quickly become apparent, as Cross at the River (this year on 10-10-10, or XXX) almost doubled in size from last year. I believe this is partly due to its presence on the Cup, and also the good venue with gracious hosts.
The 1.87 mile course was flat, fast, and gravelly. There were a few fun technical sections including a nice downhill switchback and some bumpy turns, but the course was mostly non-technical. For off bike fun there was one set of barriers, and two gnarly run-ups, one with big railroad tie stairs, and another which was loose and sandy with baby-head sized rocks rolling about to keep you on your toes, so to speak.
The big game changer of the day was the stiff north wind ripping up the course. As the course was fairly exposed and ran mostly north-south along the Arkansas river, the wind really made the day. The slightly uphill/upwind sections became a long, tactical drag, while the downwind sections became fast and furious. Riding downwind, the smooth, narrow walking path was really an experience, and had Elite racers hitting 33 mph!
For the Open Men, the usual suspects (Boulder Cycle Sport) arrived in full force, as observed by local hero and 2009 Cyclocross Worlds team member Matt Shriver on Twitter saying, “Looks like it’s me Vs. @bouldercyclesport today here in Buena Vista CX. Windy, Chilly, Suns out. Nice day to race. Fast course.” The race also attracted a few Masters racers looking for their second race, including Michael Robson (Moots), Ward Baker (Justins-Titus), and Greg Keller (BCS).
The Men’s Open field blasted out of the gates and negotiated the first corner, on a flat 90 degree gravel road, without the crashes which marred many categories of the day. On the S bend corner midway up the headwind, Grant Holicky (Vic’s Espresso-Peerless Tire) washed out and stopped the field in their tracks. With the wind helping keep the chasing hordes at bay, the lead group had been established.
The lead group of four, including Brandon Dwight (BCS), Pete Webber (BCS), Matt Shriver (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory), and J.J. Clark (Wilderness Sports), worked well together and were never to be seen by the other racers again. Matt Shriver got the jump on everyone else, attacking only halfway through the race and braving the wind alone.
Chasing the lead group
Chasing the lead group
I was stuck behind the first lap dust-up and started my second lap about mid-pack. I was able to pace myself well, and picked riders off one by one until the fourth lap when everyone was spaced out a bit more. I could see Michael Robson (Winner of the 35+ Open race earlier in the day), who sat about 15 seconds ahead for a couple laps. On the last lap I was on an absolute tear, passing my target Robson, and then Chris Phenicie (Green Mountain Sports), who I had no idea was even within striking distance. My last lap was only four seconds slower than my first (averaging 16.9 mph), which set me up for a solid 5th place finish.
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