Historically speaking the Cincy race weekend has been one I’ve struggled with. The course at Devou Park is super fun, but insanely hard all at the same time. This is the course that saw me completely drop out of the lead of the US Cup last year and one I’ve never really felt like I’ve conquered. This year we didn’t race at Devou Park and instead did both days elsewhere, this was definitely a bitter sweet venue change for me. Although I felt like I never had a good ride at Devou I was hungry to check it off my list and make it mine. Instead we raced both days at of Cincinnati’s alternate venue, an old abandoned golf course, a lot more fun than I just made it sound.
The Kings CX Course is mostly almost all gras with a bunch of odd bumps and bumps which I’m sure served some kind of purpose when it was a golf course. The promoters manage to take this grassy field and make a rad course of it every year. They squeak out lots of off camber bits, punchy ascents, and tight corners on the lumps and mounds of the old golf features.
Rain or shiny this course is fun. Fortunately this year day one was rain and I’m really not sure why, but it produced some of the slipperiest conditions we’ve seen all year. The ground must be so hard that when it gets wet only the top layer softened up. Basically this means your “mud” tire isn’t going to sink in and bite, it’s going to slide across the surface and try to kill you in every turn there is. These conditions saw the day’s best riders tip toeing through every corner and across every off camber section. For some reason this seemed to play into my favor on Saturday.
The whistle blew, I missed my pedal, and just like that I was quickly out of the top ten going into the holeshot. Awesome. The first tricky section was an absolute junk show back where I was. I charged into it, bounced off a few bodies and came out a few places ahead. Applied the same technique to the following corners and tricky bits and was finally through the cluster and in a position where I could start putting in some efforts to get back to the leaders.
After the poor start I really turned things around and just felt on. I felt like I was floating around the course and catching back up to third and eventually second place. The voice inside my head kept yelling push and stay off the brakes. Racing on mud like this and ice is tricky, especially the first time you encounter it in a season. Enter a corner over confident and you’ll end up on your ass. Enter a corner too fast and try to brake halfway through, same result. You better get it just right or just send it and pray you get through rubber side down.
On the bell lap I had caught up to Kerry Werner and we were locked in battle for the last podium spot, and all at the same time were in hot pursuit of second place, Lance Haidet. We threw blow after blow at each other and both rode the last lap to almost perfection…almost. We were pinned and getting pretty close to catching second place when I blew a corner, enough to give Kerry enough of a gap on me to hold on for third.
Yes, I was bummed on the tiny error that kept me off the podium, but couldn’t keep a grin off my face. Something about the day’s effort, competition, and conditions were beyond fun. It was a definite pick me up after a less than stellar start to the season. I hit the rollers to cool down as Chris prep’d the bikes for the other bike for day two. I did the same to my head.
666 word - #hellriders
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