So for most bike racers, the end of September usually means the end of the racing season for most. That is if you aren't one of the few to try and extend your form and fitness for mountain biking and/or cyclo-cross. In years past I have been one of those few. Taking a little time off and then getting right back into racing. However, this year, the season ended with the USA Crit finals in Las Vegas. Nathan, Christian, Shannon and myself loaded up the Metro VW van and trailer after the Cotton Patch Classic in route to the cycling spectacle known as Interbike. First on the agenda was the industry group ride leaving the dirt demo in Boulder City, NV. Just a short 30 min outside of Vegas. We finished the final 2 hrs of our drive and hopped out of the van just in time to make the start. The ride was really cool, about an hour and half out and back route to Lake Mead. Definitely a good opener for the crit a couple days later. We spent much of the dirt demo at at BH trailer. Pretty much just sitting around out of the sun, but it was some house keeping stuff we had to take care of to keep all the sponsors happy. Plus it was rad getting to ride all the new bikes for 09.
Once in Vegas we checked in to our super posh suite at the Venetian, courtesy of Brad Hagsted from Metro VW of course. It was nice having the expo just across the casino in the Palazo. I think since all of us were experiencing Interbike for the first time, we were all pretty excited to check out the new bikes and equipment for next year. Thus the inner bike nerd came out. We spent a lot of time with BH and talking to other current and future sponsors. After all that stuff we were able to do a little sight seeing. More than just the expo. The hotel and casino itself was pretty unreal. With several food courts, pools and spas on every other floor and a mall fully equipped with gondola, an entire days worth of entertainment could go by without even leaving the hotel. The of course you have the casino and every other attraction on the strip that LV has to offer. I had always thought Vegas was a place you could only enjoy if you were old enough to gamble and do other adult activities. On the contrary, it was rather enjoyable from a minors perspective. I will just have to wait until next year to blow my years worth of race winnings at the black jack table.
With everything going on, it was easy to forget why we were there in the first place. To race our bikes. It is our job, so obviously that was our priority of the trip. The race itself was kinda weird. Unlike most of the crits I have done. The course was similar to the one at nationals in California. Circling around the parking lot of the Mandalay Bay, lined with barriers. Nathan raced the industry race for BH while Shannon did the woman's race and Christian and I did the men's race. Being from Texas where humidity is always high, we weren't used to the dry air, and staying hydrated was crucial. It definitely got the best of Nathan. Being forced to bail, he was coughing like he had the black lung straight through our trip to track nationals. Shannon's race race was for the laps led competition. The dry air seemed to hurt her a little bit, but she stuck it out and rode an aggressive race. In our race, there were close to 100 starters. From the gun there was a $200 prime, so it was strung out instantly. The entire course was on a polished black top parking lot, making every turn a little more difficult than a normal 90 degree turn. It was like the roads were wet except they weren't. People would take a corner as well as you could and their tires would break lose and into the barriers they would go. Christian had a rough time, being taken out in the first 200 meters and forced to make a bike change. Within the first 10 laps, the pack had dwindled down to 50ish. It was obvious that to finish high up you were going to have to take some risks. More than usual. Mid way through the race, Christian went down again, and as soon as he got thrown back in, he was attacking the field. If there were a most courageous rider award, Christian would have won it hands down. I on the other hand raced a bit more conservatively. I managed to stay upright, but before I knew it, it was the last lap and the time to make something happen had past. Christian finished 17th and I finished 12th. I couldn't help but feel dissatisfied. Other than the difficulty in breathing, I was in no discomfort and felt fresh at the end. regardless of how we all did, we were pretty happy the road season had finally come to an end. The only thing left on the agenda was a trip to CVS for tegaderm and then some last minute photos from our trip to Vegas. Oh, and a stop by the Paris so Christian could get his Eiffel Tower drink. The ultimate pain killer that he deserved for all his hard work and awesome year.
Next year will be even better, no doubt.