Brandon Dwight led a Boulder Cycle Sports 1-2 punch in the Masters Men 40-44 race at the USA Cyclocross National Championships on Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin. Though most of the talk in the weeks prior to the race was on the expected showdown between the Dwight, his teammate and defending champion Pete Webber and first time racing as a masters Adam Myerson (Smartstop-Mock Orange Bikes), it was all about the course conditions on Sunday morning.
After days of unseasonably warm weather, the temperatures dropped Friday night bringing frozen ruts by the 10am start. But the conditions kept on changing with the sun shining, the wind blowing and the thermometer inching up. That meant slippery, greasy corners.
“It’s one of those courses where all it takes is for you to make one mistake, and then you lose it a little bit up here.” said Dwight while pointing to his head. You do it again and then you’re frustrated and then you do it again, and you’re pissed and then you do it again, and you’re like screw it, I’m done, and you just sort of give up, you just count your losses. I know that, I learned from experience and when I bobble or I crash, I just get up and keep on going and just forget about it because you can’t change the past.”
“I bet you everybody hit the ground today, it was really challenging. Because there was frozen ground underneath all this mud and this morning, some of the mud is just getting scrapped right off and you’re left with a mini skating rink.” Webber said. Everyone including Dwight.
“We were running the same equipment but obviously Brandon had the mojo today. He went down numerous times, I always seem to go down right in front of the crowd,” laughed Webber, “and that did not help my chances today.”
“It was amazing how different it was from my warmup to my first lap to my last lap and that’s why – it’s not often I change tires in a race, change bikes because I want a different thread and I did that as soon as I could today, two laps in. I tried to go two laps on Griffo and it was a mistake. I went to the Limus, it just softened up much more that I anticipated it would.” Myerson explained.
The three, Dwight, Webber and Myerson were off the front early in the first lap, still together after the first climb onto the descent. For each of them, the strategy was to stay upright.
“We both know, Pete and I, that Adam is just a phenomenal racer and he’s tactically great.” Dwight said. “We didn’t really have a plan because we know you can’t plan for conditions like this, it can be carnage. Course tape was everywhere, people were flying everywhere and we just knew to stay at the front. And even when there’s just the three of you, you don’t want to stay on someone’s wheel because you don’t know if they’re going to fall and crash and you’d be stuck behind them. So my tactic today was to always be at the front, never be on someone’s wheel unless I knew it was perfectly safe and the only wheel I trust to be in these conditions is Pete’s, he’s just a great bike handler. We just rode smooth, we didn’t really try to drop Adam.”
And then, Myerson bobbled on a corner. “The first gap opened up because I just botched this section, there was no line, there was nothing you could do in there, you just had to ride it and react and hope you were lucky. The laps that I tried to go where I wanted, I usually made mistakes because I couldn’t overpower the ruts.” Myerson said.
The chase was on while at the front Dwight was putting the pressure on everytime the course went up, especially the first climb.
“I was struggling. Once I was alone, I couldn’t attack the hill as much because I’d been in the wind. When I was with those guys on the first lap, I rode it in the big ring and I was strong but once we were riding a steady effort, I couldn’t sprint the hill.” Myerson said.
And then bad luck for Myerson. “Then I punctured, I couldn’t take it back. I just had a sense of it going up the climb, one lap, I was bottoming out a little bit more so I had to ride all those downhills, I had a little bit of air left, it wasn’t completely flat but I couldn’t rip the turns or anything. I rode half a lap like that, I lost a minute.”
He was out of the picture, leaving the two teammates at the front to battle it out for the Stars and Stripes, until Dwight constant pressure on the climb cut the bond between the two.
“I was pushing really hard on the climbs. You just have to ride really slow and smart where you have the most chance to go down but then just push it as hard as you can on the climbs and I was just driving it as hard as I could on the climbs.” Dwight said.
For two laps, Dwight was at the front, never letting up with his teammate chasing behind. “He pushed me to the limit. I knew all it took was to go down once and he would have been right on my butt.”
Top 5 Master Men 40-44
1. Brandon Dwight (Boulder, Colo./Boulder Cycle Sport) 48:34
2. Pete Webber (Boulder, Colo./Boulder Cycle Sport) 48:53
3. Adam Myerson (Dorchester, Mass./Mock Orange Bike-Smart Stop-Mock Orange Bike p/b Ridley) 50:28
4. Michael Yozell (Emmaus, Pa./Kapelmuue Independent) 51:21
5. Mark Savery (Omaha, Neb./Midwest Cycling Community NE) 51:47