This was the first race that wasn't a dry course, but we just missed the rain by a few hours or we would have had a completely soggy affair. Too bad!
Most of the local KCCX crew was off in Louisville kicking a$$, so for this race it was only me and new team member Shadd Smith. Our main competition was Shad Schreiner and Andrew Coe. I started in the second row so I was figuring on having to do some early work to move through the field. With the curvy chicanes at the start and the beach section about halfway into the lap, I was hoping I wouldn't fall back from the leaders too far. I think I was sitting 6th-8th coming off the pavement, right behind Cameron on his fixie(!). Shadd & Shad led off the start and got a small gap. Meanwhile, I started to move up through the field and was towing Andrew Coe with me. I think on the second lap I had moved up to the point where only Shadd & Shad were in front of me and I had gapped Andrew a little bit. Shadd had moved a little in front of Shad, maybe 10-15 secs, and I was gradually reeling in Shad. I caught him on the 2nd or 3rd lap and then made a few digs on the uphills to try to gap him and move up to Shadd. My first effort on the grassy hill after the beach was not strong enough to dislodge him, but my second effort on the paved uphill got me a small gap to start to build on. Over the next lap I gradually closed in on Shadd, then in the turn after the paved hill he went down. I was a few seconds back and was able to see the whole thing. It was a pretty hard crash. I rode by and he was not able to get going right away because of equipment issues. I kept a steady pace to see what would happen next. I figured he'd be up, ride with Shad for a bit, and then launch an attack and come back up to the front. This didn't happen, he was with Shad for bit but then faded back. Talking afterwards, he said that the crash rang his bell pretty good and he couldn't really get going afterwards. Bummer. Over the last 5 or 6 laps I gradually stretched out the gap to Shad and was able to finish first. I didn't see Andrew after the first lap, as it turns out he had an even worse day than Shadd: pulled out of a pedal at the start, banging his knee; rolled a tubular; and flatted a clincher. Tough day!
I ran the new MAXXIS Mud Wrestler clinchers at standard pressures: F30/R35. I had good traction everywhere on the course and everything felt good. I had no issues with the tires folding over in the corners like I did with the Michelins. If you are riding clinchers, this is a good choice for the wetter and muddier courses. Run the Raze when its dry.
Definitely a fun course. The two primary features were a wet sandy beach section ending with a steep ride/run-up and a steep off-camber grassy hill ride/run-up. I rode both of these features pretty solidly throughout the race. I was able to ride the grassy hill every time, a couple of times pretty fast. I also managed to ride up-and-out of the beach each time except for the first and last laps.
The second defining characteristic of the course was the section immediately following the beach. It started with a soggy gradual uphill stretch followed by a series of 180 degree turns zig-zagging up a more gentle hillside. This section was a lung-burner.
'til next week!