Sometimes when we race, we are looking for fitness. It’s hard to make yourself go hard when you are just training, so a race gets you that intensity that you can’t get on your own. Sometimes when we race, we are looking for redemption. In this case of Cutthroat Cross, held in West Valley City on Sunday, November 14th, I was looking for a little bit of both. I was a little tired from the previous day’s State Championship race up in Ogden, but more disappointed that I had blown my chance for a victory with one lap to go because of a rolled tire. I was ready to race hard, even if there were only 8 riders in the A field. They even offered B riders half price entry fees if they wanted to double up, but there were no takers. Maybe that’s because Jason Sager And Eric Rasmussen showed up and nobody was looking to pay money to get stomped, even if it was half price. A half price stomping is still a stomping.
The course was mostly grass, sidewalk, and some pavement in the start finish area. It was quite twisty and turny, requiring a lot of skill to carry speed throughout the course. Sometimes on courses like that, you don’t feel tired because you never really get a chance to get things pumping, but this course had me tapped. When the gun went off, I led out the first lap, trying to not go redline knowing that Sager was right on my wheel. On lap 2, Sager and Rico went by and I did everything I could to hang on. I noticed Art had come off, so I tried to stay with the Sager train as long as I could, but somewhere in the middle of lap 3, I was exploding. On lap 4, Art caught me, and we rode a redux of the day before, trading punches and pulls all the way down to the final laps. With 4 laps to go (seriously, 4 laps to go? Who throws a shoe? WTF?) I noticed SLC TBird (recently retired, ex-pro Burke Swindlehurst) was making an effort to get close, so I led it out until 1 lap to go. Art hit me hard a few times, but I was able to get by and shut the door in the last final turns, which led to a half decent sprint and a podium placing for 3rd. Seriously the hardest cross race I have done all year. I learned this lesson: the course can make the race hard, but the racers make it harder. Shadow boxing with Art for 50 minutes has become a recurring theme, and I don’t think we’re done for the season yet.