My 1x: Game On
We asked Stephen Hyde of Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com to take us inside his mind, gear prep and the race itself for his recent milestone UCI C1 victory at the Derby City Cup. Here’s his report:
All Photos © WilMatthewsPhoto.com
Morning of Sat. Nov. 7, 2015 in Louisville, KY.
I’m not entirely sure why but I slept terribly. Maybe it was Ryan’s mouth breathing or the inconsistent air-conditioner going between freezing cold and Southern heat. Perhaps it was my nerves. Sometimes it’s just hard to sleep when you know you have an opportunity to prove your ability to thousands of people. Sometimes you get a ringing in your ears and your heart won’t stop pounding re-enacting some glorious ride that hasn’t yet happened.
I’m going to just blame Ryan Trebon’s loud breathing. It’s easier that way.
There’s always a lot more preparation than you think when you’re an athlete who sweats the small stuff. I like to make sure my routine is as dialed as my racing equipment is. That means making my own food for breakfast in the hotel regardless of how much my roommates might think it’s ridiculous. It’s making sure I get my morning spin in to check in with my body and make sure I don’t need to make any changes to accommodate a sore back or tight legs. In reality, I’m all about simplifying the task at hand and sometimes that means holding strong to what I do at home as well.
After a short spin to the course and check-in with the officials, I’m all unpacked and ready to go at the Cannondale P/B Cyclocrossworld.com trailer (compound). The mechanics, Rawny and Joe, already have the bikes set out for Kaitie, Ryan, Curtis, and myself. It’s a beautiful sight, really.
After a quick conversation about tire choice for the day, I hop off the trainer and grab bike No. 2. Now, I’ve been a professional bike mechanic longer than I have been racing, so I know a thing or two about how to set up and maintain equipment. I also have a hard time letting my bikes be maintained by anyone but myself. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about any of that anymore. I trust my guys and my Force 1 setup to not let me down.
After the A and B tire and pressure choices are made, it’s time for the gearing. With a long and fast start, I’ll need a high-end gear to keep me out of the scrum. For the steep up and down technical trail sections I’ll need a snappy and tight gear choice. Luckily my gear selection is a streamlined and easy process. I went with my (pretty standard at this point) gear choice of a Force 1 42-tooth chainring paired with an 11-28 cassette. That leaves me with smooth and consistent shifting and plenty of range to meet my needs for speed and slow punchy climbing. It’s game on.
Almost race time. Confident in my equipment, I rolled up to the start line focused and ready.
So, here we go! With a missed pedal in a fast (actually, super fast!) start from the first row I was sitting farther back than I have been all year. Seconds later off the pavement and into the mud-pit I am full-on emergency pulling my HydroR hydraulic disc brakes and running right into the back of another rider standing in the middle of the action! Oh boy, here we go. Now I’m back 30 hungry racers and headed into the sand. I keep calm and do what a racer does best – move through the field. By the time I get to the sand I am 20 guys back and I’m on my feet running by at least 10, including the race favorite, Jeremy Powers. I settle into a rhythm and make my way up to my teammates Ryan and Curtis in the front group.
As I start to feel good again and take note of who is who in the group, I make the pace as hard as I can. Here my focus is on my racing and not how badly my drivetrain is being abused by the sand and mud. After pitting twice due to a flat tire and a slightly bent derailleur hanger from the crash in the mud, which only slightly slowed my shifting, I was giving it all I had. Soon the group whittled down to four, including Powers, and he had kill in his eyes.
Powers put in a monster dig and dropped our two other companions, leaving just me to play for the finish. Over the last hill leading into the stone stairs and off-camber section, I gave a kick over the top to get in front before the drop into the stairs. Heading into the off-camber I retained my lead and turned it into a gap. By the time we reached the climb to the pavement I had a two-bike length gap. Though I never looked back, I hit the gas and gave the sprint of my life.
Looking up and seeing the lights of the finish with only empty space in front I raised my hands and let the ecstasy of the win take over. I was elated and couldn’t hold back the emotion that few get the chance to experience. The glory of being victorious over the fiercest competitor I’ve ever known.
After the podium there wasn’t time to celebrate. It was time to soak it all in and prepare my body for the next day. Knowing that my bikes are dialed and ready for anything allows me to separate myself from the anxiety of the next day’s work. For me, winning isn’t one single day or one single thing. It’s an ability to create a legacy of a winning team and a relationship with people who care about the sport. To know there’s a future and support for American racing.
-- Stephen Hyde
Note: Hyde won the next day in Louisville as well. We thank him for this vivid report.
Read more My 1x stories from: Ironman® World Champs, Growling Beaver Brevet, the mountains of San Luis Obispo, veteran shop manager Mike Costner, Grinduro, Open the Road Gloucester, Gloucester GP CX Race, riding and racing in Indiana, The JAM Fund Grand Fundo, German National TIme Trial Champs, 70.3 Ironman® U.S. National Champs, and the Dirty Kanza 200.
Learn more about SRAM 1x Force 1 and Rival 1 groups in the video below.
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