Next up is former Cap City Cross racer Josh Direen.
How did you Cyclocross Nationals races go?
All things considered, pretty well, although I had a TON of mechanical problems all weekend that definitely impacted both my races. For the SS race, I converted one of my bikes to SS by putting a single cog on in place of the cassette and using the derailleur as a tensioner- seemingly a great idea. I had a pretty solid start, racing ~Top 5 for the first couple laps before dropping my chain once… and then again a couple laps later. I eventually rolled in 22nd which in the ~150 rider field could’ve been worse for sure. Then during Elite pre-ride on Sunday my A bike broke, so I had to race my B bike which is actually just last years main bike and has a full season of wear and tear on it. That also came to bite me, I dropped my chain TWICE in the first half lap of the Elite race and had to chase back from legit DFL (Dead F’n Last) to an eventual 25th place.
Going to nats at all was mostly about the experience, and I don’t really like making excuses for results but, two weeks out and I’m still a bit bummed-being plagued with mechanicals when you’ve got the legs just stinks.
What did you learn from your races?
I had really built nats up in my head and expected it to feel significantly different than other races in a way I’m not sure I can quite articulate in my own mind. BUT, it honestly felt like other UCI races- there are a lot of pro bros, it’s freaking fast and hard and everyone is good. The one difference being I was way more willing to hang it out there and maybe get hurt- end of the season so send it, right?
So, I generally wouldn’t say I learned anything new although I would say it reinforced one thing for me. That pushing through and trying your absolute hardest even when things go sideways is pretty much always worth it. It also made me feel like I’ve made some gains on the mental side of things- I used to DNF races for much less hah.
What do you need to improve on for next season?
A lot of things! But that’s how I feel after every UCI race, even when they go really well. However, the two sections I felt particularly weak on at Nationals were the run-up & the off camber. By the Elite race, I felt I had the off camber down OK but it seriously took days of pre-riding the crap out of it to not be in sheer terror hah. I used to feel like the technical side of CX was where I really had a leg up and I can’t tell if I’ve let some of that lapse or if I’ve gotten to a point where a lot of people are can ride better AND pedal harder. Something tells me it’s the latter. So, more running and more MTBing before next season I’d say.
Two things I totally have to brag about though- I hopped the ditch and rode the Belgian stairs every lap of both of my races. I’ve wanted to get the Belgian stair hop down for a while and during my first pre-ride lap on the course, I told myself “you're not going to win so at least get spectators stoked on something” and made myself figure it out.
What was your favorite non-racing moment from Cyclocross Nationals?
There isn’t a single thing that sticks out to me, but there are a few more generally: getting to see and hang with Jen and Chris was awesome- I haven’t seen either of them since we moved to Colorado almost three years ago. Secondly, we went up to Lake Tahoe the Monday after nats- we mostly drove around part of it and had some hangover curing breakfast- but getting into nature and away from bikes for a little was really nice after stressing out racing all weekend. And finally, being an embarrassing super bike racing fan and seeing Ryan Trebon and literally saying “Sorry to fanboy you, but OMG hi.”