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 US Gran Prix Finals,
 New Jersey

 
Photo : Dennis Smith/www.dennisbike.com


US Gran Prix Finals, New Jersey
by Brent Prenzlow

 

On Thursday after work, I flew overnight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia with my teammate John Behrens. We did that so that we could be there on Friday to practice the course. The flight tired us out, but we got a few laps in on the course and it was looking good.

Day 1

This was a very fast wooded course with 2 deep sand sections and a run up through an amphitheater. It was a lot of fun to ride. I had a very good start on the #1 bike and made it from the third row into the top 10. Things were going great when my rear derailleur acted up again. I thought this was fixed as Mark found the rear barrel was close to being unscrewed all the way. Obviously this was not the problem. I went into the pits and changed bikes (myself) and got back into about 20th. I worked up to a group around 15th and things were going well until I had a spectacular endo in the sand pit. I was in the middle of a small pack and couldn't see some deep sand holes that had formed. Tyler Johnson (Richard Sachs) also endoed behind me and he landed head first onto my bike twisting my bars severely.

I tried without success to straighten my handlebars so I had to enter the pits again. I thought my #1 bike was unusable, but some friendly folks had "fixed" it for me. I found out after the race that they had noticed my chain was lodged between my chain ring and chain guard; thus the grinding sound I had been hearing. I was able to complete the race on the #1 bike for 21st place. The big revolution was finding out what was wrong as this has been a mystery to me for 2 months now and has hindered me in 4 uci races this year.

I was too tired after the race to clean and prep the bikes so we returned to the hotel and left the clean up for tomorrow.

Day 2

We drove 2 hours north to Highland Park. It had rained hard overnight and turned the nice grass park into a muddy cross course. I began preparing my bikes when I got a bad surprise. I was planning to ride the #2 bike, but quickly realized it was not useable as the rear shifter wouldn't shift. There was also a large dent in the top tube. Both of these mechanicals were from Tyler Johnson impacting my bike in the sand pit yesterday.

I was forced to complete the whole race on the #1 bike with the front chain ring/chain guard issue. My start was not as good as yesterday and I was sitting around 30th. I gradually started picking off riders and moving near the top 20. Of course, the chain got lodged between the ring and guard again during the race, but I was able to reach down (while moving) and pick it up and place it back on.

I could've really used bike swaps, but it wasn't an option with one bike. I did what I could (popping wheelies on the paved sections to dislodge some of the mud off my front brake and fork) to keep it from completely clogging. I kept going as hard as I could and I ended up placing 17th, which put me into 20th overall for the Final Series rankings. I was very happy that my Time pedals kept working all race despite a lot of mud and grass caked on the shoes and pedals.

After the race, I packed up in the dark and we drove down to the Phily airport to fly back to Los Angeles. It was a long haul and we were back home at 2:30 a.m. PST.