Team Great Divide descended on Missoula for the state cross championships as if they had something to prove, and prove it we did! We proved that showing up is half the battle. With the temps in Helena fighting to cross the 0 mark and snow piling up, Mark, Wendy, Jen & I set out for the Garden city in hopes of garden type weather. We almost got our wish as the temperature at race time was pushing 15 above & would climb to 20 by the end. The first race was the cat 4 men with our stalwart points leader Mark Brooke, fresh off a hard fought win over Landon Beckner in the final tuneup the previous weekend, toed the line in hopes of making it two in a row. Alas, Landon came prepared, rested and ready to throw down, and throw down he did. Landon took first with Mark unable to close the gap and finishing a well deserved 2d and should finish 1st in the overall pointsstanding for the series. The rumour is that Landon will finally graduate from the Dynamos & be allowed to wear a Mt. Velo Jersey, that is if he doesn’t decide to move up to Team Great Divide!
The next race was Womens Cat 4s, & 2’s & 3’s combined with the Men Master B’s. Each category started in there own waves with the women going first. Wendy & Jen took off & then the men. With Rick Finley, former TGD member taking the hole shot again I started out like a house afire and found out that my big old winter gloves were going to make shifting interesting. Rick missed the run up and I was in front of him for the first time this year! I settled into a rhythm & started chasing Jim Nallick. I have chased Jim all year & was thinking this time would be my chance to beat him. He had a gap and by now Rick had caught me and set off in pursuit of Jim and a local darkhorse that none of us knew and had never seen. Up ahead I saw Rick catch Jim and I was closing! Every lap I pulled them in and it was becoming obvious that Rick was off of his game today. I eventually passed him and set off for Jim. On the power stretches I pulled him in and promptly lost my advantage on technical sections. With the last lap I had pulled even with Jim and tried to move past him but Jim dug deep & kept me on his wheel. I chased hard but going into the spirals & the last set of barriers Jim had put a gap on me and I realized that this year I wasn’t going to get him. I finished 3rd to medal this year. Wendy took 1st rather easily in her class & Jen fighting a tendency to take wrong turns fought off her spring chicken challenger & finished 2d.
The men’s cat 2 race featured 3 of the strongest riders in the state. Local hero & all around good guy Frank Gonzalez broke away at the start with Missoula’s Jesse Doll & John Curry out Bozeman. John & Jesse put a surge in & it looked like Frank was gapped. But like always Frank rode back to the duo & then he attacked! With no one in front of him, Frank was able to ride his lines. With each lap he put time on the challengers & was soon riding his own race & he once again was going to claim a state championship on the Fort Missoula course.
This concludes a hard fought cross season. Most towns had 2 races per weekend and that helped the training for the year. I would like to thank our sponsors, my team mates, especially Mark for having some place to stay in virtually every city in the state. If not for him and his lovely wife I would have to rent my house out for another month or two to afford the travel!
Thanks to everyone!