how it went down
I guess everyone probably know the result from National ‘Cross Champs by now, so I’ll just give a brief rundown of how it happened.
As many of you know, I’ve been stressing about this race for quite some time now so it’s nice to finally have it over and with the result that I wanted. Most of that stress revolved around what tactic to use knowing that the Maxxis duo of Kabush and Toulouse were going to be there. I have been on balance confident in my form and technical abilities, so barring any severe errors in judgment I knew that I would be in contention on the day. Essentially what it came down to was having to choose between riding defensively (waiting for someone else to make the race and following), or taking control early and trying to force the other guys on the defensive (downside- blowing early and seeing the win ride away).
The problem with playing the defensive game was that I knew there would be three of us who would clearly be on a different level from the rest of the field, with two of those riders on the same team. I really did not want to be in a three man group with Toulouse and Kabush, since they would surely have started working me over in one/two style until I cracked. Maybe I’d be strong enough to withstand the attacks, but that’s a risk I didn’t really want to take- not with those guys. My other option was to dictate the pace early and try to put one (or both) of them in difficulty and take it from there. That scenario forces a chase on their part, which allows for me to launch another attack if they make the bridge. If I could open that gap by using technical skills instead of pure power, so much the better. The addition of two nights and one day of heavy rain helped in my decision, since the course became very slick and started to favour good cyclocross technique.
And that’s how it worked. I got the holeshot coming off the start straight into a muddy field section that contained a few corners. That allowed me to hit it at full speed and make use of the entire width of the course, where I had already scoped the lines that offered the best speed and traction. 500m into the race I could hear that I already had a gap. After verifying the gap, I pinned it up a short rise to the first pit area in order to carve out a bit more time so that I could rest over the following technical segments. After the first lap I had just under ten seconds, and was able to execute the same pattern over the following laps – 100% effort on the important sections, 90% in the intermediate sections and 80% in the technical sections. This put me clearly in control, since I was consciously keeping enough in reserve to stave off a late-race charge from Kabush. That’s about it- I rode everything clean, measured my efforts and monitored the gap until the finish line.
All in all, I’m pretty damn happy to have that jersey!
Back home in a flash,