Moving up, Eye’s on the prize, and a Sand in places it should not be

Posted: 5 December 2013 in Uncategorized

In terms of the cyclocross atmosphere in North America, last weekend was just another weekend.  In terms of Canadian Cyclocross, it was the most important weekend of the year, the Canadian National Cyclocross Championships.  As so many roadies and Mountain Bikers take their off seasons to rest and re-coupe to prepare for next season fresh, it’s just when the cyclists who live for adverse conditions, party atmosphere, and a whole lot of cowbell come out to play.

I pride myself on doing everything in my power to show up to the Canadian National Champs in top form, and this year I didn’t disappoint.  For the first time yet so far I made it one step closer to the coveted Maple leaf jersey getting second on the day, finishing only behind one of the greatest legends in the sport Geoff Kabush.  Not to say it’s not possible in the future, because I will get there.  After all, I promised my Dad I’d win him a jersey one day!

Photo: Rob Jones

Photo: Rob Jones

The weekend:

Nationals played out pretty well for me even though I had a very bad start and managed to skip my foot off the pedal.  Due to the fact that we started in a drenched grass field, things were a little different from what I am usually used to on the road starts.  Although I kinda knew something was feeling good because even though I had a bad start, after the second corner I had already worked my way up to 5th.  The guys were really digging deep in the beginning, but I kept it in check and knew it would be a hard slog the whole hour.  After a lap or two McNeely overshot a corner and I heard him say something about having no brakes.  You see, the issue when it’s raining with disc brakes, is that you burn through pads.  Add sand and mud into the mix, and you burn through them even faster.  Luckily the race is only an hour and I was able to switch bikes to even out the load on the pads, but at the end of the race I had nothing left.  The thing I learned last year though, is that it’s hydraulics or nothing.  Hydraulics end up self-adjusting so in situations like this you keep your braking performance in check. Shortly after that Mike Garrigan went backwards very quickly as well and then I was finally on Geoff’s wheel.

Playing in the Mud - Rob Jones

Playing in the Mud – Rob Jones

Unfortunately, the crafty Kabush played with me a bit and shortly proceeded to take off after a sloppy ride on my part through the sand.  I did everything I could to keep him in sight until the last couple laps when I started to get really tired and kept trying to ride things when I should have switched to running.  Geoff was able to put in some good time at the end to extend the lead to one minute over me and I finished a minute ahead of his team mates Cam and Derek who were team time trialing behind.

Sand Everywhere - Rob Jones

Sand Everywhere – Rob Jones

One of the advantages over Geoff which gained some time was that I could bunny hop the barriers.  In this situation it helped a lot as you could then easily ride the following hill without issues.  Geoff was doing it pretty smooth though so the advantage was quite minimal.  Short video below:

The day was a success.  Albeit a super muddy/sandy one.  I needed to come on the podium to make it into the Worlds selection pool, and I did just that.  I also needed to show the National Team that I can ride with the best of them, so put another check mark there!  Getting excited about wearing the maple leaf again!

BC Grand Prix:

The race on Sunday was another mud and sandy fest with this time the course being more slick and worn in than it was for Nationals.   It didn’t rain as much, so the braking issue wasn’t so much of a problem.   It also played out very much the same with the exception of Evan McNeely feeling much better and having a great day.  Geoff took off and was never to be seen again, and Mike Van Den Ham was riding really well, at least in the first half of the race.  As Mike went back, McNeely and I began an epic battle with him being very smooth and consistent and me catching him, the crashing, catching him, then getting caught in the tape and taken down, catching him and trying to pass him while bunny hopping the barriers, then having to deal with him walking to take the line away and crashing again.  It definitely wasn’t a flawless race, but my more experienced legs were able to distance him in the end to take the second silver medal of the weekend.  A very sloppy second that’s for sure.

Next up:  Deschutes Brewery Cup C1 in Bend OR.  And it’s supposed to be a cold one!


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