Tanner went and braved the Wisconsin cold to compete in Nationals! Here is a recap of his experience in his own words:
After a very successful local CX season that saw an upgrade to Cat 2, I decided Nationals would be a neat thing to do. I arrived in Madison, WI on Thursday after an all night drive. At 7:30 AM I pre-rode the course with another local Jr (Sam Lear). We knew it would be tough. The local temp at that time was 18 degrees and there was already 2 feet of snow on the ground. The course was frozen solid. By our race day, Friday, the temps had risen into the high 30’s, but the course was much worse. There was a base layer of frozen ground with ruts in the terrain. That layer was covered with a sloshy mud that would hide the ruts below, so you couldn’t tell what you were riding on. This made it very tough to navigate. You were continually being thrown off your line by some hidden rut taking you in another direction.
My race was at 1:30 in the afternoon and started fast. I had a start position of 25th. I got a great start and was able to move up into the top ten positions by the time we hit the pit section. There was so much mud being thrown around that my glasses were completely useless by mid lap and I had to remove them. My legs felt great and I was in the top ten, but crashed on a downhill section. I slid about 20 feet and by the time I collected my bike and got going again a number of riders had passed me. This falling would continue over the three laps. I would chase as hard as I could, but there was a speed limit on this course. If you exceeded it, you crashed. So by the time the first lap was over, you were about in the position you would finish in, IF you were able to stay up and finish.
By the last lap I was riding hard against another rider who I thought I’d end up sprinting against at the finish. He ended up crashing on the second half of the lap and I was able to ride in solo. I ended up 25th, which was my National ranking going into the race.
Our local weather in Sept, Oct and Nov (CX season) was dry. This meant I didn’t get to ride or race in the conditions that we had in Wisconsin. Next year I’ll have to travel around and race in areas that have really bad weather to prepare for Nationals in Bolder, CO. If I had done that this year I think I would have been in the top ten.
It was a great experience for me and I hope I’m able to go to road nationals in Wisconsin this year. The city was really nice and bike friendly. I met some great people there and it would be cool to go back and race again.