The expo seemed a bit dead this year. There was a good amount of vendors and a lot of good equipment and cool displays, but it didn’t seem like there were as many people walking around as in the years past. I remember having a hard time getting around the place just two or three years ago but this year it seemed pretty dead.
Some of the notables at the expo were the Matter EMT wheels at the Danger Racing booth. I think it’s cool that Matter put the weight on the side of these wheels. According to what was marked on the side, the new 105mm EMT wheel is about 10-12 grams lighter than the old matter 100mm wheels. Not bad.
The new Atom wheels were out there too. I saw a few people buying them but I didn’t pay attention enough to see who raced them. I’m interested to see how they perform.
Dave and Jennifer Simmons had some of their one piece Mojo Stealth boots on display. It is ridiculous how light weight those boots are. Speaking of Simmons, Alex and I got casted for some new customs for next season. This will be my first custom boot ever and I’m pretty excited. Wait until you see them. They will look AMAZING with the Simmons skinsuits
As always, picking up your chip and race number was quick and easy. What else would we expect from NSIM?
Eddie Matzger was giving some of his mini seminars outside in the parking lot at no charge.
We stayed at the Radisson hotel. At $109 per night it was a pretty good deal. It’s close enough to the expo that you could walk over and the rooms were above average in quality. I think the Comfort Suites right on the lake is nicer, but they sell out quick.
The course looked like it was in worse shape than in the past, especially for the finish. The cranks in the concrete looked bigger this year. We skated through the finish area a couple times in order to scope out the best line but we really couldn’t find one.
For the first time ever I did not take a bus to the starting line. Instead, out team piled into a van and drove up together. It was much easier and less stressful this way. Hopefully we will have this luxury again next year.
Instead of singing the National Anthem they did the Pledge of Allegiance. I’ve got nothing against the pledge, but it’s not the Star Spangled Banner by any means. As a member of the Air Force I have pledged my allegiance to my country, but it doesn’t get me near as excited as singing about our country standing tall after being bombed and blasted by the enemy. In a way I guess it’s like a good race. After a barrage of attacks by the opposing team they look back and see that you’re still hanging on to everything they can throw at you. Anyway…sorry about the digression. Hopefully next year they will sing the Star Spangled Banner like in the past. Now onto the race.
Adam and I knew from the starting line that this would be the toughest race of the season. There was great competition at some of the NROC races, but not as much as this one. Some notables include the Bont Team (Jono Gorman, Luis Carlos Mejia, and Julian Aparicio), K2 Empire (Francisco Ramirez and Luis Moreno), M Team (Jay Sepulveda and Brian Talley), The Cado Motus Synergy team, Julian Rivera of Tru-Rev, David Sarmiento, Eddy Matzger, etc.
Aside from the vast number of great skaters, we also knew it would be a fast race because we heard that the Columbians were gunning for the $10k bounty on the course record.
My main focus was to not let Luis Carlos get away. He’s done it to the vet pack the last two years at Duluth and he did it to the masters pack in St Paul. People told me it’s like a magic trick: Now you see him, not you don’t. I knew that skating solo was his strength and that if he got far enough away we would never see him again.
If the pace was fast I was content in sitting in the pack. IF the pace slowed down I told myself that I would make a move and try and keep it fast.
The start took me by surprise this year. At most races they have a count-down from either 5 or 10 and everyone usually takes off somewhere around “2.” I’m not sure if the announcer skipped it or if I was too busy messing with my HRM but it seemed like we started out of nowhere.
The pace wasn’t as surgy in as in the past years. Instead, it was fast and steady. There were about 4 or 5 skaters in the front taking turns pulling. If my memory serves me right it was Julian Rivera, some Bont skaters, and the Empire skaters. AS the skaters peeled of the front they were moving back into the pack about 5 or 6 people back. Since I was about 10 people back I wasn’t moving up through the rotation so I did not have to lead.
Around mile 3 there was a crash. It was one of the most quiet falls I’ve heard. It really just sounded like one slight click of somebody’s frame but at least 4 skaters went down. I think somebody clipped Brian Talley’s skate and 3 Cado Motus skaters went down along with Jimmy Blair.
A few miles later Luis Carlos made his first move. It was the section of course where you skate under a small bridge (I think they are train tracks up there). He was followed by Julian Rivera. Now that’s a scary breakaway! Those guys are both monsters and could easily stay away if they got the chance. Like at the starting line, I was caught sleeping. It was only about a half second but with those guys it’s enough to get gapped. Adam yelled at me to go and I wasn’t about to let him down. I chased hard and was able to get back up to the two guys off the front.
At mile 13 I think we were at right around 28 or 29 minutes. We were right on the record pace, and we didn’t have a 20mph tailwind like they did in ’98. On top of that, in my opinion the first half of the race course is more rough and that probably slowed us down some.
In the second half of the race the pace slowed down slightly. When it slowed down somebody like Matzger or Moreno would attack and the field would chase him down. I was impressed at how calm Luis Carlos was while chasing. Usually when somebody goes off the front everyone will scramble to chase as fast as they can. Luis Carlos just kind of gradually picks up the pace and brings the whole pack up to the front.
About 2 miles before Lemon Drop Hill Luis Carlos hit the pace hard. I know I’m talking about him a lot, but understand that it was my job going into the race to not let him get away, so most of my race was spent looking at him. When he went I got on him and we had about a 30m gap. The pack closed it up, but it must have taken a really good amount of work. I was hurting badly enough just sitting on Luis, I could only imagine how it felt to chase it down. I moved out of the pack to try and move back a few spots to break a little more wind. Everyone behind me looked as tired as I was. Then Luis Carlos hit it again. I think this happened about 3 times but nobody would pull through or counter.
When we hit I-35 the race became more negative. By that time it was obvious that the record wouldn’t be broken so nobody wanted to get out and sacrifice themselves. Matzger kept trying to start the fireworks but nobody would let him get away. If I would have known how bad my sprint was going to be I would have just tried to take off at this point. Coulda shoulda woulda.
Instead, I tried to position myself behind Adam. I had complete faith that he would be the winner of the race so I wanted to be on his wheel to take 2nd. David Sarmiento wasn’t having it though. He’s finished right behind Adam at a couple races this year and he was wanting a victory. He wasn’t going to let me in so I moved right behind him.
At the top of the off ramp before the decent to the DECC we had 14 guys in the lead group. Julian Rivera, Matzger, and a few others were making there way towards the front. The group was still together at the bottom of the hill. I wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted to be though. I have reasons and excuses for being there, but they are really just that: excuses and I don’t feel like explaining them. It was ultimately my fault for the bad positioning I had through the corner at the bottom of the hill.
I had a gap to close and the pack wasn’t making it easy. As I was struggling to catch back up I noticed Julian Rivera going down with about 200m to go. One of the Springer twins lost a lot of momentum trying to dodge him. I had just caught the back of the pack when I looked up and saw Adam’s hands in the air.
His hands were in the air but they were calling another name over the loudspeaker. I think what happened is the finish line was directly before the timing mat. They were so close that Adam must have crossed the line first but Julian crossed the mat first. That’s my best guess at least. The finish picture was clear though, and Adam was the winner by half of a wheel. It doesn’t get any better than that!