It almost seemed like an “off” weekend in Colorado, as Team Gates Carbon Drive rested between a big weekend of NACT races in Boulder, and the coming weekend of USGP races coming to Fort Collins. But the cross season is short, and the team was eager to stay in top form, in order to increase their leads in the Colorado Cross Cup Individual and Team standings at the upcoming races!
Saturdays race saw the group back at the Boulder Reservoir for the School Yard Cross Race. Same venue as last Saturday, but with a completely new layout of the course, featuring a fast, bumpy side, countered by a very twisty and technical second side. Team Gates Carbon Drive was represented in the single speed race by Carlos Casali and Ben Ollett.
Carlos made his usual strong start, causing an immediate separation of 4 guys, with about a 20 second gap back to the group containing Ben. But about halfway through the race Carlos had a stumble in the tough sand section, and went from 1st down to 4th. Immediately he set about chasing, and managed to get up to 3rd, putting all his effort into the chase, but ran out of course before he was able to catch the leaders. Ben rode smooth and consistent, finishing in a group just behind Carlos, in 6th place.
Sunday’s Castle Cross Cyclocross Festival was held in Castle Rock, on a great course featuring a good amount of grass and dirt, a paved climb, a mean run-ups, and more twists and endless loose, off-camber turns. Mitch Westall was the first to line up for the team, as he chose to mix things up a bit, trying out his Spot Mod Single Speed against the geared guys in the 35+ race. Lining up at the back of the field, he quickly found out that he was still competitive against the rest of the field. Passing was one thing, but it definitely took some extra work to keep the speed up and stay in front when the counter attacks would come. Before long he had moved up into third place where he would finish the race. A great result, even using the single speed, against a very competitive field
Later in the day, I provided some reinforcements to Carlos and Ben, who were out once again to throw down in the single speed category!
After winning the Open races on both Saturday and Sunday, Brady Kappius toed the line along with his dad Russell. Right from the gun, Brady was off like a shot, with Carlos and myself quickly chasing back on. Once we were latched on, Brady’s dad Russell, who was riding more like an older brother to Brady, attacked, with Brady doing a heck of a job blocking. Carlos and I took turns attacking several times each, but Brady would counter, and then ride nice and “conservatively” though the twisty sections, just as he should have. But after one of our attacks, he took off again, bridging to his dad, and leaving Carlos and I to chase, with Ben just behind us and closing, trying to get up and help us.
Unfortunately Brady’s attack meant Carlos and I had to react, chasing hard. I had an issue, getting caught on a hidden stump in the course, and then got stuck behind traffic in a terrible spot with limited passing. Carlos was on his own chasing. Frustrated, I pushed super hard to get back up to Carlos, who hesitated just a bit when he saw me coming. We worked together to start gnawing back the 20+ second gap, that Brady and Russell had as they worked together also. It set up a great chase between teammates! With a bit more than 2 laps to go, I put absolutely everything into the chase, before I had to send Carlos off on his own, as I struggled home. Carlos flew on his own, and by the final lap was just 5 seconds behind the Kapius duo, but he just plain ran out of road again. We finished up in 3rd, 4th, and with Ben finishing 5th with a big gap behind him. Not a win for the team, but a good display of team work setting up an exciting race for the fans.
Carlos is sure to back next weekend, looking to protect his lead in the Colorado Cyclocross Cup, as Team Gates Carbon Drive looks to make their lead unassailable and wrap up the team competition! It should be an awesome weekend if you can make it out, as the “Big Show” once again comes to town as the races serve as a stop on the US Grand Prix series!
Dejan Smaik of Sportif Images has also signed up to be the official photographer of Team Gates Carbon Drive! Check out the great pictures that he provided for this post, and then check out Sportif Images for all sorts of amazing photography, including the huge number of cycling galleries!