[Editor’s Note: Ethan Glading checks in from Ruts N’ Guts, which took place December 3-4, in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The photos and quotes in this post are from Saturday’s C1 race. For more from Ethan, please follow him on instagram at @thepenultimatestage.]
I was going to do it by myself (fly to Dallas and drive to Broken Arrow the day before the race) and my mom asked “Can I come help you?” It was too much for David (Sheek) to come because that would have been all team budget. But she wanted to come and spend her own money to help me. It worked out and it was good that she came because I was so tired on that drive on Friday night that I probably would have had to pull over and take a nap or something. So she’s here and it’s nice. I’m happy I made it because I would have seriously regretted not being here.
I had a front row start and so I started on the left side of the grid. Being on the outside is better for me mentally because people get out of my way. If everybody wants to bunch into the corner… I hate that feeling. I stayed clear and I was probably like 3rd or 4th going around the first few turns. So I was up that front group and I was chasing Katie. I think all of us knew that we were fighting for second or third. She wasn’t coming back and we started riding together. And then on lap two or three I just totally messed up the sand. And on that course we all had similar fitness so the sand was the decisive factor where you could open up 5 or 6 seconds if somebody had to get off their bike. A couple times in that main group people got off and ran but they were still all together. So, after I messed up I knew that I was riding similarly to them and that even if I let a gap open up I was still riding my race and we would be doing similar times. As long As I stayed on that and stayed focused if anybody messed up or started dying in front of me I could catch them. And that’s what happened because Amanda Miller started fading. I was in 7th and all I was thinking is “my best C1 finish is 7th and if I catch her this is going to be my best C1 finish ever.” That last lap I went so hard to catch her. When you pass somebody, to hurt them mentally is to do it with conviction and go as hard as you can. So I gave everything I could just to pass her and I was like “oh, thank God she’s not going to try and fight me back.” ~ Amanda Nauman
I had a rough start. I kind of missed my pedal and then I got tangled up with another rider. Her foot went into my front wheel. I didn’t have to pit fortunately. It didn’t break my wheel but it set me back a ways. I chased back through the field but I just wasn’t really having a good day. My hips kind of felt rotated. And then I started cramping which is super weird for me. Hopefully I drank enough water last night and this morning to stop that problem for today (Sunday). Katie Compton was on a different level for sure. I was able to be in the 5-chasers group for a while. Rebecca was pulling super strong. Crystal slid out in one of the corners and kind of gapped me a bit but I was coming off anyway… It just wasn’t my day. ~Amanda Miller
When Katie went I was not on the front of the chase. We were sort of racing together for the first half lap and then I took to the front but by then Katie was gone and I knew it was a race for second. A lot of people tried to pass. A couple people got around and I just tried to pass back as soon as I could to maintain second and hopefully shred the group enough that I could maintain a podium position even if something happened. It was slick out so I just tried to work hard and maintain the front of the group without crashing or anything like that. I just tried to race aggressively. ~Rebecca Fahringer
I had a good start initially and then someone hit me from behind and that knocked my foot out so I was a bit behind at the start. I caught back up to the chase group. I think Katie Compton was off the front immediately, so… she was just gone. There was a chase group of about five of us I think. It was kind of going back and forth for several laps. And then I crashed around a corner and got detached from the group. Then I ended up passing Amanda and I finished 5th. ~Crystal Anthony
I had a good start. I was happy with that because that was one of my focuses for the day. Then I was in a group of five which whittled down to three. This is my first race back after about a month so I was struggling with the pedaling part but I was strong in the technical and the sand. I was observing that I was better in the sand than the other two women I was with so the last half lap I just made sure I entered that first. I got a gap there and then I just tried really hard to hold it because Becca was super strong on the pedaling. Mentally I’m ok. Physically I just need to get that bit back. Nationals is a big goal but I have a bit of time and this was a good first race back. ~Katie Antoneau
Yesterday was good. The course here is really fun. Super fun to ride. Really good flow. I actually just felt good and so I took advantage of it. I wanted to go hard for the start and then settle into a rhythm but I realized I had a gap and I maintained it. So, I felt good and I’m gonna keep rolling with it.
We flew home Monday (from Europe) and then drove to Kentucky on Wednesday and then drove to Oklahoma on Friday. It’s a lot of driving. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel. I haven’t ridden my bike since Sunday. So it was four or five days of, I want to say rest, but it’s not really rest with the traveling. It definitely took me a little time to open up yesterday (Saturday). I did a really long warm-up so I think that helped. And then I just got into the rhythm of it. And then once I start racing it doesn’t really matter how my legs feel, I just pedal. And then some days are good even though you don’t think they are gonna be good. ~Katie Compton
In the start I think I ended up top five and I was following Amanda’s wheel. But I made like three mistakes in the first half lap and got passed by quite a few people. I ended up sitting in 9th place most of the race, in no-man’s-land, just riding it out. But it’s a rad course. It’s always fun doing a mud race. Especially being from Texas we don’t get too much mud and cold. ~Samantha Runnels
We had a pretty big group early on in the race. Summerhill got off the front with maybe ten to twenty seconds depending on the lap. And then there was a group of six to ten of us chasing. As is often the case when Powers is in the race everyone was sort of sitting around following him, watching him and expecting him to light it up at a certain point. Halfway through the race he pitted and I decided to try to use that as an opportunity to jump across to Summerhill. And Powers was just gone for the rest of it so it was a good thing we didn’t wait around for him. A few laps later there was a group of four of us: Summerhill, Driscoll, Tobin Ortenblad and myself. We rode like that without any major shakeups for the last few laps.
I thought my best chance to win the race would be to attack onto the final pavement section. Which is sort of a minute and a half left in the course, maybe a minute. There’s not a lot of opportunities to pass past that; it’s one of the best opportunities to get past people. So that’s what I did and I led through there until the second to last corner. And then Tobin with his crit skills was able to sneak in on the inside line. It was completely fair but he sort of body-checked me out of the way. He knocked me off the line and then Danny got by too and it’s too short of a sprint after that last corner to change the position in the sprint. ~Michael van den Ham
It kind of started slow. I think everybody had a really awkward start. I started second row and everybody in front of me just… I’m not sure what happened but slipped pedals, and botched… There’s numerous consecutive U-turns after the start so it had an inchworm, ball up and then string out kind of an effect. I needed up getting caught pretty far back. And I just kept it steady. Caught guys here and then next lap caught a few guys there. Next thing you know we were chasing for that lead group just a few second behind. Don’t know exactly how it happened other than just consistent riding and trying to ride smooth and stay upright. Which I ended up doing until the last two turns when I went down. But consistent riding ended up putting me where I wanted to be. ~Cody Kaiser
There was definitely no strategy. I just came off of my road off-season. So I’ve been going since road ended and then just took three weeks completely off. In the last five days I started riding again. So, in all honesty, the fact that I was even in the front, much less off of it was a pretty big surprise. Not anything I expected. I was thinking “man, hold on and see if you can make top ten.” And then I was like “shit, I’m clearly in front right now and it’s friggin hard but not harder than normal racing usually is.”
I don’t normally spend any time off the front in any ‘cross situation but I managed to hold it until about two and a half laps to go I think. And then I had a bit of bad luck coming into the final corner. Basically racing straight for a metal fence and whoever got there first was the winner of the race. Once you got around that corner you were pretty much at the finish line. That was a bit of a bummer because it would have been nice to get a win. Especially a C1 win. But in all it was a good battle and a good way to get back into racing. ~ Danny Summerhill
It was a pretty big group race and then something happened and Danny kind of was of the front, and a gap opened and nobody really was too concerned with chasing him down it seemed. I just decided it was getting too close to let that gap go so I moved up and that lead group of four formed. I tried to make a move because I’m not the best sprinter. My best opportunity is to get a gap before that. I tried that with two laps to go and I made a couple mistakes. I just didn’t quite have the legs to drop people. Those guys are all pretty good finishers and they were duking it out the last lap. I didn’t really have the power to overcome them, especially in the last couple corners. Those guys were really knocking elbows. It was pretty physical and I’ve broken an arm in a situation like that, so I might be a little more skittish, but… It was just a combination of not having the best pop and not willing to take those same risks. ~Jamey Driscoll
I started out pretty well. I was going about top 10 going into the first corner and then I ended up top five going up the hill. Then throughout the first laps I just jostled for position and stayed in the top 10. But I had a crash… I want to say lap three, in the sand pit coming down, which set me back two or three places. Then just over the course of time the sand got ground in the shifters and I had to take a pit. And that set me back a few more places. But I ended up being able to work my way back up to the top ten again and ended up sixth. ~Gage Hecht
I kind of had a sloppy start I would say. Pretty up front, pretty on it but I don’t know what was going on yesterday. I didn’t feel like I was totally on it at the start. So I was anywhere from 4th to 7th place for the first couple laps. And then Summerhill got away and we all woke up and started chasing hard. Then not too much happened until like two or three to go when Jamey Driscoll was able to get up there and get him back. We caught with just about one and a half or one to go. And then it was just a light tempo, nothing crazy until the end. I had told myself “don’t mess up the sand” and I actually messed up the sand. So that gapped me off. I was bummed about that. I thought that might have been the race for me but I was able to get back to the guys. And then the finish… it was just a super physical finish.
I was able to get under Michael (Vandenham) and then Michael tried to shut the door but I was already there so I was able to hold him off. And then going into the finish line Summerhill still was underneath me but I was able to stay on top an din front of him and then there was a lot of bumping and leaning. So it wasn’t really a race to the finish line, it was really a race… whoever got through that final corner down there was gonna win. So I made sure I was the first into that corner and that was that. ~Tobin Ortenblad