Harvest Racing's Jordan Ross took the family up north last weekend to compete in the LaCrosse Omnium and sat down with Brady Murphy to share his thoughts on the experience.
What made you decide to make the drive to Wisconsin?
It was a last minute, a perfect storm - LaCrosse is home to my wife's sister and my in-law's were planning on being in town that weekend as well so it worked out as a family/race trip. I've had intentions of bringing my bike to take the wrapper off some new roads, but it's never worked out previously. Also, the Midwest Flyover added the LaCrosse Omnium as it's first stop this year and as the reigning champ, I felt compelled to be there. Finally, my cousin, Nate, from Chicago told me the weekend prior that he was going to be in LaCrosse for the races. I have a great time doing races with Nate plus, he had yet to meet Peter.
How did you prepare for this race? (training, travel + Meredith & PJ, sleep, nutrition, etc...)
I didn't do any specific training for this race. It came at the tail end of a rest week but that was merely coincidence.
True to form, I was up way too late Thursday getting packed and prepped. I was making Skratch Labs Portables, and getting the Trek Emonda prepped, SRAM drivetrain dialed in. I was doing things up until we left Friday. Meredith likes to play that game as well. Though she's generally more prepared than I, we typically have an assortment of loose items and small bags crammed in the car by the end of it all.
PJ travels better than most adults but we still made sure he had every accommodation he needed. If Meredith and I wouldn't keep each other in check, Peter would end up with a snowsuit, 100 diapers, a bathing apparatus, a month of clothes, and a big wheel for any trip regardless of trip duration or season.
What were the venue and course conditions like?
The TT was rumored to be the main attraction for this weekend. It travels up the famed Grandad Bluff with almost 700 feet of climbing over the 2.4 mile course. Unfortunately, I was only able to hear about the feats of strength put on display because I was not able to make it up for the late Friday afternoon race.
The crit was on the riverfront and consisted of a flat, 4-corner course. They were doing some construction on course so the the already fast, slightly downhill, straightway between turns three and four narrowed and had added cement barriers. Plus, exiting the final turn there was a substantial expansion joint with some cold patch in it. Combined, it made for a tricky final section to an otherwise wide open course.
The road race was held outside of LaCrosse near Winona, Minnesota. The 13.5 mile loop was mostly flat but had a ripping fast downhill followed shortly by a 2-mile climb. It was gorgeous. One of the better road race courses around, for sure.
Without any Harvest Racing teammates making the trip, what was your tactical plan?
For the crit, my plan was to patrol the front of the race and stay in the top 10-15 wheels. The field was absolutely stacked and 75 riders deep. I knew many of the riders had been doing larger crits, even NCC races so the pace was sure to be fast. Generally in fast, flat, large crits it pays to be in the front.
For the road race, it was pretty simple: be patient, hide out, and try not to burn too much energy before the climb. With a climb that size, it generally becomes a race of attrition with everyone going full blown Hercules.
How did you fare in the races?
Fifteenth in the crit. Seventh in the road race.
In hindsight, what would you have done differently?
In the crit, my plan to let teams chase backfired I think the high pace and field size made getting organized a challenge. I could have raced from further back to try and catch onto some of the attacks. In the finale, I found myself caught behind the wrong group with a second group surging to my inside. I should have gotten out of there immediately as the pace dropped but I waited too long and by the time I got a lane I was getting chopped in the corner, lost my momentum, and had a pathetic sprint finish.
In the road race I wouldn't have done much differently other than perhaps following the late race attack. But prior to that, the teams were not letting anything get up the road. The sprint finish went about as planned aside from the fading riders clogging up the single lane sprint finish. I credit my lack of outlets more to the fact that there wasn't an open road sprint than to overly poor positioning since I was only 2 or 3 rows back.
What's going on between the ears while racing? Especially without team support, what helped motivate you to keep applying pressure to the cranks?
My mindset was the same as it is when racing as a team, in that, I'm trying to be efficient and smart. Most of all I want to find a way to win, I wanted to come home with a win for Harvest Racing. To stay motivated, I think it's important to put pressure on yourself to win and to embrace that pressure. I didn't accomplish my goal this weekend but that just puts more fire in my belly for upcoming races.
Being a new father, how do you race this year as compared to previous?
I don't believe I race differently being a father. I am competitive. I want to do well in every race I enter and, in a way, make Peter proud. That said, Meredith and Peter are WAY more important than any bike race out there and I love spending time with them above all else. I'm resigned to the fact that I won't be able to race quite as much as I did in years prior due to family obligations and that's fine by me. However, when I'm there, expect me to be rubbing shoulders!
Give us a one quick take away from La Crosse.
Though I'm not content with this weekends outcomes I would do the race again. The promoters did a great job and the field was top notch. Hopefully they change the time of the TT and maybe improve the crit course?