An overnight ice storm in Lexington extended the “Did Not Start” lists in all categories. Those who chose to brave the slick roads to the Zipp OVCX Series’ Commonweath Eye Surgery Promotion Cross race presented by Lexington’s Crankworks Bicycles were greeted with a crisp crust of ice on top of 3-4 inches of mud. Bikes and roof racks were cocooned in a layer of ice as cars parked in the lots. Young guns Katherine Santos (Red Zone Cycling) and Spencer Petrov (Sophisticated Living/Bob’s Red Mill) both made the most of the chilly slop, hit the front early and extended their leads for wins in the elite races.
A decommissioned army tank sits at the entrance to Veterans Park in Lexington. Riders joked its tracks might make the perfect tire choice for the day. Prior to the ice storm, Lexington received quite a bit of rain. Every puddle and mud hole was ice cold. Every inch of the course was sloppy or slick. Every rider struggled with frozen toes. Some riders, like second place Ryan Gamm (Ohio Valley Velo Sports), opted to skip a course recon in favor of a dryer cleaner road warm up.
In mud, everyone has the same idea. Get out front early to avoid the crashes. Katherine (KK) Santos was able to push a little harder than the rest and grabbed an early lead. “For me the race conditions were perfect,” she said after the race, “I really enjoyed the mud.” Behind, Jenna Blanford (VO2 Multisport), Kimberly Thomas (New Holland Brewing), Shera Clark (McDonalds Cycling Team), and Mackenzie Green (NorthStar Development Cycling) scrummed for position through sloppy corners and descents that sometimes resembled sledding more than cycling.
According to Green, “My start on Sunday was pretty good and I was right there with KK for the first part. When we hit the sloppy mud I could sense that I had the wrong tires. I pitted to get my bike with different tires and worked to pass the others in front of me.”
Despite not being able to feel her toes and fingers, Santos pressed on and extended her lead for the win. “Luckily the plan of getting out in front and staying there worked, and I was able to hold a gap.” Blanford and Thomas rounded out the podium.
With one bike, Ryan Gamm took a more calculated approach in the men’s race. “I chose to roll the dice and skip the (on course) pre-ride in favor of staying warm and keeping the bike fully functional,” he said post race. Petrov didn’t have the fastest start either. He missed his pedal and after the race confided that he was left with a “deer in the headlights” look as he settled for the backseat on the holeshot. Gaining maturity with every race, Petrov recovered and slotted into the lead on a long straight section ahead of Jason Monk (Team Whayne), John Francisco (Red Zone Cycling) and teammate Ian McShane.
Behind and despite not having a proper course recon, Gamm used the first lap to gauge the lines before moving up. He added, “My strategy was to pick out lines that used less energy rather than were faster.” It paid off. He eventually caught the wheels of Monk and Francisco and passed McShane.
Petrov continued to slog away on the front, even hopping the barriers in the deep sticky mud. It may have not been the wisest choice. “My foot came out over the second one, but I kept it going,” he said after the race. “Out of my peripheral I saw I had a tiny gap then, and I surged trying to lengthen the gap. I guess it worked.” It did. He would solo away for the win. Monk and Francisco faded late and Gamm was able to capitalize to take second. Francisco was third.
Complete results at usacycling.org
Zipp OVCX Series racing wraps up with the finale at Brookside Park in Indianapolis on Sunday (12/15) presented by Speedway Wheelmen.