September 30, 2005 – Last weekend I got my cyclo cross season rolling with a couple of UCI races around the Detroit area.
With the double weekend I expected a larger turnout than in previous years and was a little more than surprised with the calibre of the riders who showed up.
While I was sitting in the car getting my number pinned my partner in crime mentioned, “Hey look, there’s a rider for Skittles.” I replied, “I know I can take the Skittles cross team and maybe the Snickers team, but that fellow is on Jelly Belly team and is pretty good.”
Yes, Jeremy Powers had shown up with the likes of Tyler Johnson and Jon Baker, along with a handful of other top cross racers. It was going to be tough to get top ten.
The course was pretty flat and mainly grass with two pavement drags, a ton of 180’s , and a bit of off-camber. The first day was bone dry and I got called to the start so positioning would not be much of an issue. Off the gun it was hectic as always and I ended up fifth wheel. There was a group of 15-20 riders for the first two laps then the selections started. At the 3/4 point I was in the lead group of nine. We had a good margin over any chasers and I felt pretty good. There were several attacks but all were dragged back as Power rode a hard tempo at the front for most of the laps.
With 2.5 laps to go I got separated from the leaders thanks to a rider who tried to take a corner really fast and wiped out. But I was able to stay up and rejoin the lead group only to get gapped again, only this time I couldn’t make it back. The lead six continued to gain losing two more riders until finally Powers took the win. I got nipped at the line and rolled in 8th, 1.38 back.
The next day the course was modified a bit but remained essentially the same. However this day the start was really hard and the pack of 35 riders was split very early. To further add to the selection there was a huge crash on the pavement section. Ben Turner and Tyler Johnson hit the tarmac while in third and fourth, and I was right behind them and barely got through. Others were not so lucky.
In the end we had a group of 10-12 riders at the start of lap two which whittled down to eight by mid-race and that is when the rain hit. The last two laps were raced in a complete downpour and the course was super slick. I’d gambled that the rain would hold off and ran tires for dry conditions, so I was having a hard time maintaining contact and eventually came off with 1.5 laps to go. I backed off as I had no grip and rode the last lap with another rider and took the sprint placing 7th, 45 secs back. It was Power, running a crazy 30 psi in his tubulars (he borrowed my pump that’s how I know), taking the win again.
Also at this race was California cross racer, Brent Prenzlow, who competed again Lance Armstrong last year at a cross race in SoCal. Prenzlow said it was pretty cool to line up against Lance and he held on for 10 mins.
Also in attendance in the women’s race were Tara Ross, who looked strong both days finishing 2nd, and Lesley Chown who had a fifth and third and displayed some pretty good sprinting power. On the men’s side Ontario’s latest cross secret, Neil Ross, had a first and second in the always competitive Killer B race.
The races were well run and the course was awesome.