Monday, December 15, 2008

Nationals report: Friday (Juniors)

By Friday, the frozen ground of the Nationals course had given out under the pressure of Thursdays herds of B and Masters racers, and succumbed to sunshine and warming temperatures...creating a slippery, goopy mess of mud more suitable for holding wads of grass together for the walls of a primitive prairie home. Instead, this went on the bikes as they slid around the course, spinning for traction on the uphills and trying to stay in control through the turns.

The 10am Junior events featured some truly weight-gaining mud. Zack Gould's rig probably doubled in weight before he pitted with a rear derailleur broken by its struggle against the thick adobe building material clinging to his bike. He got a good workout running half the course with a 30+ lb. bike slung over his shoulder! Kudos to Zack for not giving up and hanging in there to finish a really solid 11th place in the 13-14 race.

In the 15-16 race, the CLIF BAR foursome of Yannick Eckmann, David Kessler, Bjorn Fox and Zane Godby went to work against a strong field and the mud. Yannick resumed his friendly rivalry with Delaware's ace junior Jeff Bahnson (the two had traded wins in the Cat. 2/3 races at the New Jersey USGP weekend). Bjorn looked to continue his hot streak after winning both under-16 junior races at the Portland USGP the previous weekend. David made his Cross Nationals debut, and 14-year old Zane stepped into his first race with the 15-16 category. Yannick raced hard and rode with Jeff for several laps, but before long Jeff's amazing mud riding skills and awesome fitness created a winning gap. Yannick powered home strong in 2nd, and both David and Zane had amazing races to finish in 4th and 5th, respectively. Bjorn was having a great race before he was sidetracked with a flat, but he came back strong to finish 8th. Three CLIF BAR 15-16 Juniors on the podium, and all 4 in the top ten!

The 17-18 crew was shorthanded from our usual USGP squad, with German Robin Eckmann having to race the B race on Thursday. Cody Cox and Andrew Barker rode strong races, starting out in the main chase group, fading a little bit after some blistering opening laps, but recovering to hold on to strong 9th place (Cody) and 13th place (Andrew) finishes.

Cody will now head off to Belgium later this week to begin his first European race experience at the Euro Cross Camp with National Team coach Geoff Proctor.

Nationals report: Thursday (B race)

Junior Robin Eckmann wins the B race! Since non-US citizens are not allowed to race US Nationals once they reach age 17, CLIF BAR's outstanding Junior 17-18 racer Robin Eckmann, who is from Germany but now calls Boulder home decided to race the B race for fun this year at Nationals.

He killed it! Robin moved up to the front of the race on lap one along with another junior ace - 15 year old Jeff Bahnson from Delaware, who was using the B race as a warmup for Friday's Junior 15-16 event. The two rode together off the front for several laps before Jeff completed his "opening" workout at 30 minutes. Robin then was joined by one other competitor, who stuck with him until the final lap.

One strong attack heading onto the pavement though kept his lead comfortable and he cruised in for the win.

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