The US Grand Prix of Cyclocross, the biggest cyclocross race series in this country, came to Colorado the weekend of October 13-14 in the form of the SmartWool USGP in Fort Collins. My daughter Emily and I raced on our magnesium custom Zinn Magster ‘cross bikes, and both of us had successful weekends. I won both days in 55+ Masters men, and Emily placed mid-pack both days in Category 2&3 women despite fighting a cold and having just moved up from Category 4 (she is still in her first year of racing).
Saturday started cool and dry and turned to pouring rain in the middle of my race. Fortunately, I had opted for tires with good tread (Dugast Typhoons) rather than fine tread, which would have been faster in the conditions at the start but which would have been sliding all over the place in the mud that formed rapidly the last two laps. I had lots of catching up to do in both races, since I started in the very back row both days. Unlike local races, in which riders are called to the line based on their points totals, the USGP in my and Emily’s categories do not have a points category of their own and don’t honor any other. Call-ups are based entirely on order that registration was received, and we registered late.
The challenge of passing all of those riders in my group plus lots of singlespeeders who were on course at the same time and had started 2 minutes ahead was great practice for me for upcoming national and world championships I’ll be doing in January. Being able to advance through traffic on a tight and technical cyclocross course is a crucial skill for success.
I am in my fourth season of racing cyclocross, and this season, since I just moved up to 55+ and will be the young guy in that category, added to the fact that the world cyclocross championships are in the USA–in Louisville, KY (the first time ever outside of Europe), I have been training for cycling for the first time in 30 years. I started racing cyclocross as a way to stay fit for cross-country ski racing in the fall, but now it has become an end in itself. And I got an early jump on the cycling season by tearing my triceps muscle in the Finlandia Hiihto and Vasaloppet ski races in Finland and Sweden in late February/early March. Instead of skiing into May, I hung up my skis after the first weekend in March, and I raced my first road season since 1982, in order to prepare for cyclocross season. My goal is to be on the podium at state, national and world championships in cyclocross this season. I am encouraged by this weekend’s results and am taking them as evidence that my training plan is working.