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 Gran Prix of Reno UCI CX

 


Boston Ė New Orleans Ė Reno
Cyclocross Adventures

by Brent Prenzlow

 

Gloucester UCI (Day 1): US Gran Prix of Cx #3

I flew overnight (San Diego Ė Las Vegas Ė Boston) and drove up to Gloucester after renting a car early Friday morning. I was whipped from the night flight and fell asleep in the hotel before checking out the course later that afternoon. The course was pretty bumpy, yet fast, and included one run up and a back and forth section through a sand volleyball pit. My bikes felt good and I felt good about my chances.

Saturday came fast and so did the rain and strong winds. The course was sandy enough that it didnít get severely muddy like Portland, but it was still very slippery and cold. After a final course pre-ride (15 minutes before my start), I decided to switch wheels to move from 30 to 34mm tires for better control. This would end up being a big mistake as the different wheel set was not dialed in (shifting/brake alignment). The gun went off and 85 of the best riders in the country charged up the paved climb and into the grassy turns. I got boxed in about 30 guys back, and I felt my shifting skipping. I had trouble moving up and something else just didnít feel right. Unfortunately my friend Paul Cusick, who had brought my #2 bike to the pit, was kicked out because he didnít have a Ďpit passí. No one mentioned that a pit pass was required!

I knew I needed to change bikes so I went into the pits and had to search through tons of equipment to find my bike, pull it off the rack and start up again. I was at least 50 guys back now! I was bummed and had thoughts of dropping out and saving my legs for tomorrow, but thatís not my style so I kept going despite my terrible position. It was tough passing slower riders for the rest of the race in the slick conditions, but I kept it steady and worked up to 28th place by the end, just 30 seconds out of the top 20. Naturally, I was disappointed.

Note: After the race I returned to the pits and picked up the #1 bike. I spun the front wheel and it went one revolution and stopped. The brake was totally off centered to one side of the rim!

Gloucester UCI (Day 2): US Gran Prix of Cx #4

Sundayís weather was great Ė sunny and beautiful (around 70 degrees) and I felt right at home. I was determined to get a better start and to redeem myself. This time the bike was dialed and I felt comfortable on the faster 30mm tires on my Bontrager carbons. The gun fired and I went into an all out sprint up the paved climb and into the grass. Instead of getting boxed out, I moved up and made some tricky passes to put me into about 10th place! I was pumped and was hanging on the back of the lead bunch which was setting an unreal pace. As we started lap 2, I came off the lead group and settled into my own pace battling with guys between 12th & 20th. A few guys passed me, but I was riding well and maintained that group. In the end, I came into the finish sprinting for 18th in a group of 5. I gave it my all and was piped at the line by Frank Mapel despite my bike toss. I placed a solid 20th, 3 minutes down on the winner, Ryan Trebon. Note: Daniele Pontoni was 31st today and simply said he ďdidnít have good legs.Ē

Post race was just as hard as the actual race as I had to do a ďpacking time trialĒ and rush out of Gloucester and back to Boston to drop off the rental car, take the shuttle to the airport, and get checked in with my massive amount of luggage (one double bike case, one wheel bag with 4 wheels, and a heavy suit case). I made the flight and flew to D.C. and then into New Orleans. My luggage made it, but my bike case was beat up with one wheel ready to fall off and the case would barely roll. It was a long day.

New Orleans Ė Macromedia web site conference and training

This was my first trip to New Orleans and even at midnight it was hot and very humid. I set up a shuttle to my downtown hotel, a 20 minute jaunt from the airport. A crotchety old shuttle driver came, but he didnít want to take me with my luggage. He kept going on and on about my bike case being ďfreightĒ. I told him, itís a bike case, and I just raced in Boston, but he didnít want to hear it. He said, ďthatís freight, and we donít take freight.Ē Finally, the promise of a big tip got him to shut up and we took off, packed like sardines in the van with barely enough room to fit the bike.

On Monday, I unpacked one bike and did a spin-out ride and was appalled at how un-bike friendly New Orleans is. There are no bike lanes, no bike paths, and terrible, old beat-up roads. My cross bike with 34mm tires could handle it, but it was full on urban assault as I battled the taxis and busses and generally just tried to keep out of the way and not get hit. Even riding slow, I was sweating heavily and was uncomfortable.

Tuesday was a wash, literally, as I was busy at the conference and it rained heavily causing the streets to flood. On Wednesday, I was determined to get a good work out in to stay sharp for Reno. It wasnít raining and I headed out early before classes, but the streets were still wet. This is when it gets bad. I was just getting going when I turned right onto a one-way street and moved left-to-right across some cable car tracks that took me by surprise. My rear wheel landed into the groove next to the track and as I attempted to pull it out my rear tubular ripped off and my wheel jammed throwing me into a quick 360 spin-out. Miraculously, I didnít go down, but as I unclipped my left foot hit the slippery paved road and my ankle twisted out hard. Ouch!

At the time I thought it was pretty minor, but later that day my ankle swelled, began throbbing and hurting, and I was limping around badly. People wrongly assumed I got a little too wild down on Bourbon Street the night before. I immediately started icing, elevating, and taking ibuprofen. I wrapped it in an ace bandage and tried to minimize walking. I was stressed out about racing on it in Reno, but after not riding and taking it easy on Thursday, it was showing improvement by Friday.

Gran Prix of Reno - UCI Cyclocross

I headed off early Friday morning to Reno via Denver. Traveling to the New Orleans airport was once again difficult, but I made the early flight and was so glad to be out of there. I landed in Reno around 12:30 and was excited to ride and start acclimating as I waited for my luggage to come off the carousel. One by one, bags came and people left until finally there was nothing more. My bike, wheels, and clothes were all lost! A lady who also flew from New Orleans didnít get her suitcase either so we figured they didnít make the connection in Denver and we filed a claim.

I stayed outside of Reno with my friends Ken (a former Celo Pacific member) and Lisa Skogerson, who kindly put me up for the weekend. With no clothes or bike, I was able to improvise and borrow stuff from Ken to get an hour spin in. Late Friday night my luggage showed up, and I was able to unpack and build the bikes up for a nice pre-ride on Saturday. The airlines were rough on my bike case and it now had 2 broken wheels, several holes, and the frames were scratched up as the handlebars had loosened up and somehow banged up and down against the paint. I was pissed, but at least they seemed functionally sound. I carefully wrapped my ankle and tested it without pain. The course was in great shape and the weather was excellent (high of almost 60 degrees). Reno had just received snow a few days back and the surrounding mountains were beautifully white.

Race Day Ė I had the course figured out and I was confident I was going to race well as I liked the hilly, but fast circuit. Both bikes were working great, and I fired off the line and into the top 5 following the favorites - brothers Ben and Andy Jacques-Maynes and Jackson Stewart. Things were going great when out of the blue (about halfway though the 1st lap and already past the pits) my rear derailleur starts freaking out. Itís grinding, popping and skipping back toward the hanger like I have a stick or leaf stuck in it. Iím looking down and I canít see anything wrong as the rest of the field starts filing past me one-by-one.

In a panic now, I decide to stop and fix it, but I canít see anything wrong. I jump back on, and get a gracious push from local Mike Hernandez, a great show of sportsmanship. I keep grinding away (the noise is awful) hoping it doesnít break. Iím going uphill and at half speed as it feels like itís not even on a cog. I have no idea whatís wrong, and Iím now DEAD LAST (18th place) heading toward the pits. This problem happened once before on the last lap of the Tacoma, WA UCI race. It only lasted about 50 yards and it went away so I thought I had a stick caught up that fell out. This is now a mystery problem Mark Salmon and I need to solve because it totally blew my chance to race for the win today.

Ironically, just as I came up to the pits, I feel the derailleur snap back into place and start working normally again. Whatever! Iím not risking it fail again, so I swap bikes fast (thanks Ken) and take off with the #2 bike. The top 3 are long gone, but I steadily make my way around slower guys and catch up to the main chase group after 2 laps. We are riding for 4th Ė 11th now, and I try to attack, but theyíre all over me so I have to chill and recover for a bit. As it comes down to 2 laps to go, the chase group splinters and I race hard finishing second in the group for 5th place! Not bad consideringÖand good UCI points, but what if?

I pack up the bikes for the fourth time in 10 days, and Ken & I head off to the Reno airport where I learn my flight is canceled due to a ďmechanicalĒ and Iím not going home until Monday now! Iím not happy, but thatís racing and flying these days! Monday morning comes quickly and Iím finally back to San Diego and straight into work. It was a challenging trip, but a good experience, and thankfully I saved the Reno race and came home with some UCI points and prize money. Iím now looking forward to staying in so cal this weekend, doing some actual training (seems like weeks since Iíve trained hard) and getting ready for the US Gran Prix Finals in New Jersey on Nov 20th and 21st.