CX Nationals Race Report – Kent Hammond
Master Men’s 40-44 and Mens Single Speed
Cyclocross Nationals was really a tale of two races. One smooth and steady and the other not so smooth or steady. Both ended up being quite fantastic.
Master Men’s 40-44. January 11th, 2:20 p.m.
Things began with being called up in the 28th position, which had me standing on the fourth row next to a gentlemen, Bill from Modesto, who crushed me two times earlier in the season. Behind me four more rows of riders were being lined up, making a total of 58 riders.
I really had no idea how this thing was going to turn out. Figured I might pass a few people while also getting passed by a few other people. Really was just standing there because I thought it sounded a lot more fun than being at work.
The course was all around fantastic. Lots of variety including slick yet swampy mud, a maybe rideable sand section, an odd ditch, two sets of stairs, sweeping off camber turns, and a section in the trees that involved a steep ascent followed by even more off camber madness.
As the first lap, of what would be six, concluded I was somewhere around 20th place and then slowly, a few riders each lap, I kept moving forward. After it was all said and done – things went pretty well. Raced a tight, clean race and ended up coming in 11th.
The one spot on the course that seemed to keep giving me trouble was a seemingly innocuous turn, but it just kept sweeping and sweeping right, causing misjudgment, over-cooking, and slight breaking delays on my part. You can see in the photo the twisting balance that Men’s U23 winner, Christopher Blevins, used to navigate that corner.
A huge thanks to Dorothy Wong and Around The Cycle’s Andrew Herrara for being my pit crew for this race. Fortunately all they had to do was yell and cheer.
Men’s Single Speed. January 13, 3:00p.m.
USAC televised this race and can now be watched on youtube (details at end)
Lets just say that this race involved getting passed by a man in gold pants, handing off a Slim Jim to another man without pants, instead just wearing a speedo and a unicorn hat, and a roughly 400 meter jog through a Dinosaur park and heckling crowd. This was without a doubt the best single speed race I have ever been a part of, but, it should be noted, was also my first. Figured if I was in Reno for one race I might as well do two.
This race started with being called up in 87th position of what would eventually be some 130 riders. They were actually scanning for motors, starting on the front rows and working their way back. But, before they got to me, the clock said it was time for the race to start and so it did.
Things started good and was nimbly able to move up to an estimated position in the 40’s after only about half a lap, but then ya, lets just say there was some trouble including two unexpected rapid dismounts (some might call them crashes), a quick re-alignment of my handlebars, a flat front tire, and an approximately 400 meter run. All except the 400 meter run happened within a few seconds.
Still not sure how those events entirely unfolded, but, as best as I can tell, my front wheel slipped out while making a sharp turn on the descent, causing my first unexpected rapid dismount. (The photo was the start of the turn in question and a huge thanks to fellow PAA’r Bradley Thordarson for the photos.)
Collecting myself and my bike I had to run a few meters to a slightly more suitable place for remounting, but this remount was denied by the cyclocross gods and I was ejected a second time, this time slightly more over the handle bars.
Now, can I blame all these crashes on a flat front tire, I’m not sure, but as I was sandwiching my front wheel between my legs straightening the now misaligned handle bars, I noticed a front tire with no air whatsoever.
So, slinging the bike over my shoulder, I started the estimated 400 meter jog toward the bike pits. And yes, the course went through a Dinosaur themed playground, including a Brontosaurus swing set, and heckling crowds by the start/finish line.
After getting a new replacement wheel, thank you Shimano neutral service, and hassling with getting a dropped chain back on, I was then back on the road.
This next lap consisted of me trying to collect my breath and deciding to partake in the cyclocrossery of hand-ups. I ended up grabbing a dollar, a drink, and even a Slim Jim. Definitely regretted biting into that Slim-Jim and quickly handed it off to the individual dressed in only a speedo and a unicorn hat (true story). Taking that as my cue I decided it was time to get serious. This also happened to be about the time I was being lapped by the leaders, so the race for me now became how long I could stay on their wheels. One of these wheels I latched onto was that of Adam Myerson, who previously in the week won the Masters 45-49 race. I lasted a bit, but holy smokes that dude was fast and technically smooth.
In the end I rolled across the finish line in 87th place and a dollar richer.
CX Nationals in Louisville any one?
Note: The Men’s single speed race can be viewed on youtube.
Can search “USA Cycling 2018 Cyclocross National Championships – Saturday”
The Men’s Single Speed starts around 2:09.
If you want to see some of the madness definitely watch from about 2:25 for a couple minutes.
Around 2:25:30, you can see me (purple bike and PAA kit) swerve to avoid a guy crashing in front of me. It is somewhere shortly after that where I myself went down. Approximately four minutes later, roughly 2:29:20, the announcers mention PAA Cycling Team as they show a cut of myself jogging by.
The whole race is truly worth watching and includes an epic battle for second place. I wont say if the guy in jean shorts gets it or not, but do keep your eyes on the last turn behind the posted up winning rider.
Some barrier hopping
SoCal rider Amanda Nauman handling the corner I washed out on like a pro (she came in 5th in the pro women).