SGP Deschutes Cup, Bend, OR 12/8/2012
by Craig Etheridge
I knew I would have my work cut out for me this weekend at the final two races in the USGP series. My best competition in the single speed category has consistently come out of the Northwest.
As leader of the series, however, it is always a treat to start on the front row. As I’ve been working on starting faster and being more aggressive, it’s nice to see it pay off with taking the holeshot on Saturday’s race.
I knew that a serious race was about to unfold, so I thought it was best to start spreading the field out immediately. Sure enough, I found myself out in front with a fellow I’ve battled in years past. We enjoyed two great laps together in front of the field where we could equally push and test each other. Not to mention, the course was all ours! As I said, for two laps. It seemed promptly at the beginning of lap #3 was when we began slipping into the back of a few other categories that started at roughly the same time. Unfortunately this changes the dynamic of my race quite a bit. As if following a wheel wasn’t hard enough alone, we now had to deal with a (significant) number of slower-moving objects on course.
It was at this point in time that I felt the safer bet to lead through the fodder in order to minimize the pick-and-roll effect that seems inevitable under these circumstances. My opponent, however, made a clean and safe pass close to the end of the last lap that proved to be too difficult to match until the final straightway. I knew that coming out onto the pavement finish in 2nd position was going to all but seal my fate there on the podium. I was happy to have given a good run at it and a clean 2nd left me wanting more on the final race of the series the next day.
USGP Deschutes Cup, Bend, OR 12/9/2012
In almost an exact repeat of the previous day’s race, I was once again faced with similar race conditions. Not only were the physical conditions (temperature and course) unchanged, but so was my competition.
As according to schedule, at the beginning of third lap, here come obstacles! Quick lefts and rights help keep new catastrophe at bay for at least a little while. This is until, the chop!!! I truly believe the leader of my race at the time didn’t specifically use the lapped traffic in this case to sneak away, but it sure worked out that way.
Feeling (more than) a little disheartened about the situation I grumpily completed the race in a safe 2nd place, but didn’t put up much more of a fight in order to make back the time I felt was so wrongfully taken from me. I guess that’s bike racing.
All I really felt like at the end of the day, was that it was a pretty raw deal for everyone involved. Lappers get frustrated with dodging slow-moving-vehicles, lappees are afraid for their lives and get one (or two) less laps, and spectators don’t get to see me win (the true tragedy).
I was obviously still very happy to maintain my lead in the overall series and come out on top for the team! Success in the long run thanks to so much support.