|Start line pleasantries.|
With a solid showing of cyclocrossers from across the country, along with some top tier road and mountain bikers, the race started well for Josh as the pack made its way quite socially to the first climb at mile 11. Then the fireworks kicked off and a lead group of 6 emerged with Levi Leipheimer (last year's winner), Tyler Wren (multiple year winner) and Jamie Driscoll pushing the pace. Josh dug in and found the wheels of Colorado crosser's Jake Wells and Greg Krause for the first few hairpin turns and then settled into a nice rhythm just off the back of the lead group, taking on the traditional dangling off the back of the front duties.
By the first summit, some 27 miles (of 70) and 5,000 feet later, he was feeling strong and ready to make up some time on the descent and potentially latch on to the lead group of ~10 before the long slog of pavement hit. "I was really feeling great, climbing well in my limits and ready for what was to come. I'd just finished a bottle and grabbed an extra at the second aid station, downed my favorite nut-free sunflower Breeze Bar and was flying down the gravel at 35+ mph. Then pop, bam, boom, my day was over. I guess I gambled on choosing tubulars today, and sometimes when you go all in, you loose."
|The descent that ended his day early.|
At 35mph when a tubular blows out, it can be quite a nasty thing. One the one hand, Josh was able to successfully slow down and steer the bike without crashing, a lucky feet given the 2-4 inch deep gravel road, on the other unfortunately, the speed and time it took to stop resulted in 3 cracks and dents in his carbon rim, effectively ending the day just as things were getting interesting.
"I was really disappointed, no question about that, as this was my first big time race here in Utah and things were going so well. But I managed to ride really well (at least for the first 2 hours) and did't get hurt, and while carbon is pricey, its cheaper than a broken bone!" Fortunately, another rider, a local Bryson Perry who runs the Intermountain Cup Mountain Bike Series, also flatted just a few yards down the road from Josh and after commiserating together, road back up the course to the aid station and hitched a ride back to the finish area. Grateful for a new friend and one with 4 wheels, Josh is currently licking his wounds and gearing up for a handful of cross-country mountain bike races to finish off the summer and get the engine ready for 'cross.