Horizontally blowing snow, twenty degrees, wind, wind chill, followed by periods of freezing rain, sleet, followed by accumulating snow, followed by large fluffly classic flakes of gently falling snow, the weather had it all, but it couldn't hold a candle to the crazy, "On like Donkey Kong" action packed racing at the Cross Nationals today. The Kansas City Cyclocross National Championships were actually cut a break by mother nature, hard as that is to believe, the major snow, 6-8 inches fell a few scant miles to the South and East of the city and beautiful, Wyandotte County Park.
But on the course it was once again, a whole new ballgame. Everything that got the riders along the course yesterday was out the window. The previous day's mud soup gave way to ice, wind and snow. What worked this morning might or might not this afternoon. So what was the key? Regionalism had been bandied about, could a Southern California rider prevail in the snow? What experience could they bring to a field like this? A first year national woman rider from Chicago remarked that her ride yesterday was her first mud experience, although she placed well enough in local races to qualify for the nationals, there was nothing in her experience to prepare her for such conditions. Yesterday, the degree to which riders were experienced in mud seemed to directly impact not only their results but also their ability to remain upright. So did the depth of their logistical support. Did you have a spare bike? Did you have a pit crew experienced enough to keep working wheels under you, in spite of the choking mud?
Today it turned out everyone lost their regional advantage and was on pretty much equal footing in the ice and snow. If there was an advantage held by the rider before they got on their bike, it evaporated once they did. Instead, the deciding factor was depth of experience. Was the rider mature enough to temper their competitive drive and not make mistakes? Repeatedly the announcers commented that although you could not win a race in the first five minutes, you certainly could lose it, and many did. Luck, as always, was a factor. Did you catch a break? What was your position as the first seconds of the race unfolded? Did you get caught up in the crash on the turn off the straight sprint, or were you lucky enough to sneak by the bedlam? Regardless of where you went, were you lucky enough to have traction, or not?