USGP Round Two, FtCollins, Colorado
I arrived in Ft. Collins on Friday in time for course inspection. It was about 80 degrees and blue skies. The course was dry, bumpy and dusty with no major changes from last year’s course. The forecast, however, was calling for a 70 percent chance of precipitation and a high in the low 40’s by race time the next day. It was a full on MudFest at this race last year. I ended up having a horrible race and getting super sick immediately after the race. So, I was looking for some redemption on this year’s course.
The rain didn’t really move in until around 11 am on Saturday, but once it did it was coming down in sheets. It didn’t take long for the course to become saturated and turn into a soggy slippery mess. After riding to a 14th place finish in Madison, in the mud, I was actually pretty excited about the course conditions. Stan’s No Tubes threw down for a spot in the Venue, so we had the luxury of warming up out of the rain and wind.
As the rain looked like it had settled in for the day, it was obvious that we would be running the Kenda Kwicker’s. One of the advantages of running the NoTubes set up is that we have the ability to change tires depending on course conditions with out having to have a lot of extra wheel sets. I decided to run 24 psi in the front and 25 psi in the rear. The combination of the low pressure and the tread pattern of the Kwicker was perfect for the off camber sections turns. I was able to keep the bike up right for the entire race and was riding right around the top 15. During the pre-ride I noticed quite a bit of broken glass in and around the venue. I’m not sure if I ran over a piece or if it happened when I ran into the cassette of a rider bobbling his re-mount, but I soon realized my front tire was flat. Surprisingly the tire did not come off the rim and I was able to ride it over to the pits, but I did loose a couple of spots. I ended up 18th which is a little further back than I was hoping to be, but I am happy to be feeling good and riding the mud well.
Just a few hours after the finish of the Pro Men’s race on Sat the rain had stopped. By the time we were heading to the venue on Sunday the sun was peaking out from behind the clouds and the temp was in the upper 50’s. Racers had been on the course since eight o’clock a.m. burning hot laps, and I was certain that by start time it would be like I-70 out there.
Again, thanks to the versatility of our setup, I did a last minute tire swap, this time from the mud hungry Kwicker to the fast rolling Kommando. After a few recon laps I settled on 29 & 30 psi front/rear. Once the whistle blew it was painfully obvious exactly how fast the course had become, but the tires and pressure were right on, and the new CX brakes from TRP were allowing me to come in to the corners carrying a ton of speed. I was sitting just out of the top ten when I noticed my front tire getting a little foldy. Turns out that I hadn’t let the Stan’s sealant sit long enough to completely permeate side-walls of the new tire. On a day when the course is
running like Laguna Secca the one place you didn’t want to be was in the pits. After changing bikes a couple of times I had found myself just out of the top 20.
For me the second round of the USGP didn’t produce the result I was hoping for, but I had the opportunity to shred on an extremely fun and challenging course and the Colorado crowds came out in force. Additionally, I figured out a couple of ways to tweak the program, so I have confidence that the results will come.