Eight Bulldog cyclists descended on Ogden, Utah for the second year in a row for the Collegiate National Road Cycling Championships. The three-day event consisted of a team time trial on Antelope Island, a criterium in downtown Ogden, and a road race.
The time trial course was a mostly-flat, twenty-mile out-and-back on picturesque bison-dotted Antelope Island. Unlike last year, the wind was a slightly cross headwind on the way out, allowing for a comfortable tailwind for the second half. The ladies -- Marina Brown, Colleen Feriod, and Erica Blom -- set out strong and set a grueling pace for the first half of the race. Unfortunately, after the turnaround, disaster struck: Colleen was discovered to have flatted. Colleen rode heroically on her flat to the neutral support tent, but without a fourth rider the women were unfortunately out of contention and placed 6th, just off the podium. The men -- Adam Trexler, Spencer Gilbert, and Nick Geiser -- managed to avert such disaster and rode hard to finish 12th.
The second day was the criterium, an 8-corner T-shaped course through downtown Ogden. Krysten Koehn joined Marina and Erica in the women's D2 race, which held many familiar faces from our ECCC days. The pace was blistering from the get-go as an MIT rider attempted an early break-away. Marina suffered an early crash when a rider from Army went down ahead of her, but she took her free lap and remained strong. The breakaway was eventually reined in with about five laps to go, and the group was largely still together. Unfortunately, with one lap to go, disaster struck yet again, as a large pile-up occurred just past the start-finish line. Erica and Krysten were unfortunately both caught in it, but Marina was able to put in a very strong finish, placing 21st. Congrats, Marina!
Matthew-Lloyd Thomas swooped at the very last minute after an epic airport adventure to join Spencer and Nick in the criterium. The men's race proceeded similar to the women's, with a small four-man breakaway early in the race. Our men looked strong in the main group until, again with one lap to go, a number of riders went down by the start-finish. The men skillfully danced around the wreckage, finishing 34th (Spencer), 36th (Nick) and 49th (Matt, coming across the finish-line with a somewhat out-of-place victory salute).
The final event was the road race, which consisted of several short, flat loops around Pineview Reservoir, a fast descent through South Canyon Road into Ogden, a rolling and crosswind-y section through down, a brutal headwind-y 4-mile nine-percent-grade climb up North Canyon Road, a fast and technical descent, and a short flat time trial to the finish line. The women completed two short loops and one long loop for a 62-mile course, while the men did three short and one long for 77 miles.
Similar to last year's race, the women started out at a very (too) comfortable pace, knowing that the real race wouldn't happen until the climb. As it turned out, the crosswinds on the rollers were severe enough to blow some riders off the road, and fractured the race somewhat before the hill. But once on the climb, it was every woman for herself. The Bulldog ladies were thrilled to have three solid finishes after the disappointments of the previous days, finishing 21st (Erica), 24th (Marina), and 25th (Krysten).
The men's race was substantially faster right from the gun. Nick, along with another rider, put in a solid early breakaway attempt; unfortunately they were eventually reeled in. Matt put his climbing prowess to work on the climb and finished in 25th place, followed by Spencer in 35th and Nick in 45th.
Overall, the team placed 10th in Division II. Great work, everyone!