Saturday morning bright and early I headed north and met Crusty in KC for our trip to Iowa City, IA for my first time to Jingle Cross Rock - three days of racing.
Arrived on site and the first and foremost issue was the freaking cold temps (mid 20's). First time meeting the Wisco side of MWI (and they are a great crew - fun and more fun). Mike and Jess has our tent area dialed in and so nice to have a warm/wind blocked place to prep. Took a quick tour of the course (on foot first) and it was all pretty straight forward except the descent of Mt. Krumpet; steep, turny, and slick. Kitted up and took a pre-ride and the only issue was finding a line down Krumpet, which I actually found a line to my liking and felt pretty confident in my ability to ride down (and not run like most).
Time to line up and this year they split the 2s and the 3s for results purposes and had us (Cat 3's) go 30 seconds after the 2s. Both Crusty and I were on the front row and we had a good start with me taking the initial hole shot and Crusty sliding to the lead after the first set of turns. I was sitting third wheel for a bit then put in an effort and took to the front again as someone clipped Crusty's wheel taking him out of the race (literally rolled his tubie and took a ground shot to his shoulder). From there on it was pretty much trying to hold on as crazy fast guys were blowing by me on the flat straights only for me to catch most on the descent as I rode it every time clean (except for one bobble when a guy crashed in front of me). With the race only 40 minutes (used to going an hour) I didn't make enough of an effort early on to stay close to the leaders and finished 9th (official results posted Friday night had me at 9th, but Saturday I looked again and I was 11th - not sure what changed).
Fun tough race climbing Krumpet and finally (with the exception of HPT) got to race on something other than dry grass.
During the Pro race I pitted for Andrew Coe who was taken down at the start. limped in for his pit bike, and then went about reeling folks in to finish in the 20's (great work for first UCI pro race). It is crazy impressive how fast the top riders fly!
***The following clip was during the Pro race and it doesn't show justice to how steep Krumpit actually is and the final pic is a huge sausage handup on the second day during the runup***
Back to the hotel where I shared a room with 'Chili' who is a super fun teammate and one heck of a racer. Diner at a local sports bar and lots of laughs with the whole crew. Ross and Mo were lots of fun. Hit the sack and try to reload for day 2.
After breakfast at Crusty's 'hippie-mart' we all headed over to a slightly warmer (low 30's) course and after a 'walk' around the course I had a little bit of a smile going. Saturday's course was loosening up more and even the slightest bit of climbing was super hard to find a line that didn't slip and slide all over the place, but after watching some of the masters I got a feel for what I thought would work (and it did later). Additionally, there was a super long, steep, and muddy run up to get to the top of Mt. Krumpet (with more climbing once back on the bike) with a super fun and fast descent. I like anytime off-the-bike running/climbing is in play.
Second row start and I didn't get off the line well at all and was way back quick. Taking my time and regulating my riding/running at MY tempo I started bring folks back pretty quickly and with two laps to go was well within the top 10 and probably more likely 7th or so when my Egg Beater pedal came off the axle - ARG!!!! Luckily a teammate (thanks Chili) had set his bike in the pit in case I needed it and boy did I. Between the flyover and the pit I lost count of how many passed me. Quick bike change and off chasing. Was able to overtake some who passed and finished 12th (I'll take it considering). I bring extra of everything so I was able to replace the pedal and have it ready for Sunday.
Had a ton of fun up on the mount watching the women and men's races as the chaos was brewing and pumping full on.
Chow in the evening with the team and then it was early to bed. Legs started to feel the two days.
Day 3 and the descent down Krumpit was ridiculous (steep and super slick) and decided to bag the good fortune I had so far and not race. Hung out watching other races and with 40 minutes to the start of the Cat 2/3 the officials made an announcement Mt. Krumpet was taken out of the course and a 'short course' would be used. Quick trip back to the team tent and it was go time. Kitted up, warmed up (some), and over to the line for the start...
My best start of the weekend and a good overall race ensued. Legs never really felt fatigued and my driving skills were spot on for the muddy and slippery course; finished 7th (and quite a ways up in the 2's).
After camp breakdown Crusty and I were on the road south and just a little before 10pm I was pulling into my driveway.
Great weekend of racing and hanging out with some fun teammates (and wives). Also got to catch up with some of the local (KC) guys and always enjoy racing/chatting with Andy W (Craig Hoppe - I looked for you and kept missing u). Already looking to make sure I get to Madison and Loouuuvul next year; oh, and Jingle is a permanent fixture on my schedule from here on out.
Lite week on the bike with a handful of buildups on Thursday before MO State Champs in KC this weekend. Hoping for rain and/or difficult conditions to take the advantage away from the 'grass crit' riders and make them actually have to drive a bike. Either way I am feeling fit and ready for what should be a fun and challenging race.
Keith Walberg makes awesome video's and below is his work from Jingle Cross