Today didn't go as well as yesterday for the Cottle crew. The only race on tap was my 45 - 49 National Championship race. After killing time all day waiting for my 3:30 start time, I was called up 37th and started on the 5th row. Exactly the same spot as yesterday. There was "only" about 115 starters today. As expected, the big hitters were all present and accounted for today and the pace was wicked fast. I was hoping for a top 25 finish but it would be a challenge since everyone ahead of me was a Cat 1 fast guy.
The first few laps went fairly well and I was in the mid to high 20's. Just like yesterday, the course was fast in some sections and super icy in others. With some cloud cover, it was basically dark most of my race and the temperature dropped the whole race making it icier each lap.
I actually liked the slippery conditions and kept it upright through all the difficult sections. Ironically, I managed to hit the deck on the pavement. Coming into the finish with 3 laps to go, there was gaps between all of us so you could relax a little on the pavement. As I crossed the finish line I was on the right side of the road up against the fencing. For some reason, the only guy near me tried to pass in between me and fence when he had the whole road open on the other side. There wasn't room for the pass and we both ended up in the fence and on the ground in the fastest section of the course. I wasn't hurt too bad and got going again but had to change bikes. By then I dropped back to the mid 40's and didn't get really going again until the last lap. I did finish strong to get back some places.
All in all, I'm happy with the effort and how I rode. Without the crash, I could have challenged for a top 25 and I felt good both days. I probably had the best form of the season, so I can't complain about that. Even though the Nationals races are harder than anything I do all year, I love the atmosphere and the large fields full of the best competition. Just a little slip and you lose 2 or 3 positions. If you make a solid move through a difficult section, you pass 2 or 3 guys. Having large crowds yelling for you and giving a big cheer if you ride a difficult section is a blast.
On a more positive note, Kris Walker repeated as the 45 - 49 women's National Champion in a photo finish. Very cool and another podium for the Utah related crew. Tomorrow, Tanner races the 17-18 Juniors in the morning and Eric has the 30 - 34 in the late afternoon darkness. Just about all the other Utah crew including Ali, Art, Dr. X, Kelly, Krafty and Bo race as well. I'm looking forward to sending 8 hours just watching. The forecast is calling for snow and/or freezing rain so it should be interesting.
I've got a bunch of pictures I'll post at some point when I'm not as tired.