by Joe Bellante
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – Up the steps of the famous double staircase of Brookside Park in Indianapolis, Josh Johnson (Bissell-ABG-NUVO) and Katie Arnold (Bob’s Red Mill) ran to victory at the Zipp OVCX Series Race #10. A few weeks after a season highlight of finishing third at the St. Louis Gateway CX Cup behind Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) and Jonathan Page, Johnson won a battle with Drew Dillman (Bob’s Red Mill) and a stacked field in the OVCX men’s elite. Through the slick mud from an early morning rain, Arnold kept it upright through the twisting course to hold off Mackenzie Woodring (Einstein Cycling) to notch her fourth win in the OVCX series. Still, two more races are on the OVCX horizon. Next week, the racing returns to the Cincinnati/Dayton area with John Bryan CX in Yellow Springs, OH. Courtesy of Buckingham Financial, pre-registered riders receive free cowbells (while supplies last) and are automatically entered to win a sweet tubular wheelset, see the John Bryan CX Facebook page for details.
Historically late in the season, Brookside has seen four inches of snow and sometimes bitterly cold weather. Sunday, brought unseasonable temperatures in the low 60’s at race time. Short sleeves and no gloves were common. However, it wouldn’t be an easy race. An overnight storm with steady rain soaked the top layer of soil on the twisting course. Trying different tire combinations on warm up laps, most racers opted for mud tires front and rear to tackle the countless slick corners and off camber descents.
A mid-grid crash at the start of Men’s elite race as the course transferred from pavement to grass made for a chaotic holeshot. A rider checked up hard on the brakes and fish-tailed causing riders behind to stack up into his bike. Just having upgraded to elite from Cat 3, Dan Pike (BioWheels) took the brunt of it, falling hard on his shoulder and hip. With rips in his skinsuit, he remounted and chased up to finish 38th. The melee left other strong riders at the back like Johnson, Andrew Dillman (Bob’s Red Mill) and Spencer Petrov (Lionhearts) with a tough day of playing catch up on a slippery course that didn’t offer many places to pass easily.
To compound the issue, Johnson flatted as he latched on to the leading 15. With a fresh bike he pressed on eventually catching the wheel of Dillman and the front of the race at the off camber leading into the double staircase. Johnson added, “I sat-on for most of the (next) lap to recover from the effort it took to catch him.” 15-year old junior Petrov, in his first Elite race, was among the leaders as well, making his way up to third behind Johnson and Dillman to lead the first chase group.
Then the attacks came. “I decided to test the waters” Johnson said after race, “putting in an effort on the straight leading into the same off-camber and stair section that I initially caught Dillman on. I gained a gap over him, but it was short lived. Later in the lap he countered my move, gaining an advantage, but I was able to close it down.”
It came down to mistakes. On the closing laps, Dillman went wide in a corner, allowing room for Johnson to come on the inside and take over at the front. He pressed the gap and goosed a slight advantage again going into the off-camber and stair section that he had been riding throughout the race. Johnson took the win saying he was “really thankful to battle it out with a good friend.” Also from a back of the pack start, Grand Rapids Michigan’s Tom Burke (Lathrop Industries/Giant Bicycles) rounded out the podium.
2012 women’s elite OVCX races, which have seen 40-60% increases in participation this season, saw yet again another stacked field at Brookside. Virtually all of the series leaders were in attendance, with Michigan’s Mackenzie Woodring (4th pro at Iceman) making the trip down to the event to serve as the wildcard. Katie Arnold made the most of scouting the course, saying, “I watched some of the men’s races … and realized it was critical to get the holeshot to avoid any pile-ups.” She tested tires in warm up, opting for mudders on the grid.
As planned, Arnold took the hole shot and stretched the field through the tight turns, adding, “I burned a couple of matches that I didn’t want to burn that early in the race.” She settled in the next lap, but it wouldn’t last long as Mackenzie Woodring (Einstein Cycling) chased hard behind going into the double staircase run-up. Arnold later confided, “Those suckers took their toll on me every lap!”
With Woodring starting to close, Arnold put her head down and focused on being smooth through the slick turns and as she put it “laying down the pow-pow in the straights.” At the bell, Arnold consolidated the win with Woodring managing second and Gerry Schulze (BioWheels/Reece Campbell Racing) taking third overall and first in Masters Women.
ZIPP OVCX ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
This week, OVCX Athlete-of-the-Week honors go to Luke Beemer (MidWest Devo) and Alison Delgado (Team Hungry Cycling). Luke, at 16, won the Cat 3/U19 wave yesterday at Brookside, his first OVCX win in his first OVCX season. Alison upgraded to the Elite women’s race this season from Cat 4 and had a huge performance Sunday with a top ten in one of the most stacked fields of the season. Both athletes will have the opportunity to race on Zipp 303 tubulars next weekend at John Bryan CX! Congratulations!!