CRCA’s junior squad made its first appearance at a national championship on Saturday December 16th in Providence, Rhode Island. Ian Harris, Connor Sallee and Graham Lang were part of the 43 strong “Elite Junior” race that scrubbed and buffed the course for the U-23 and Elite Men that followed later in the day.
While Graham Lang and Ian Harris left bits of themselves and their bicycles around the challenging circuit, Connor Sallee kept man and machine together for a solid 23rd place. Connor and Graham are the squad’s newest recruits, they come from the outermost limit of the tristate area, right about where New York becomes Conneticut. They are both category three juniors with one more year in the gear-restricted ranks, an achievement that bodes well of their potential.
Connor summarized his trouble-free ride with one word: sweet! (and perhaps, awesome…)
“I think it was a pretty decent job for this being my first year of cross,” he said, “The course was freakin’ amazing, and I was really glad it was dry and not snowing. There were two run-ups which were pretty sweet, and there was this section that was constant flowing ups and downs that were pretty sweet. Overall, the course flowed really nicely. There was one downhill section that had some chopped up stuff in it, and then there was a hairpin turn to an uphill embankment hairpin turn around a tree. The first two laps, I dropped my chain both times, but recovered pretty quickly, and then made up for my mistakes. There was a flat section afterwards where I would just sprint my ass off in front of probably 1,000 people and pass whoever was in the stretch. It was awesome. There were so many people crowding the course in that barrier and run-up and turny section, the bells were so loud, it was really really awesome. I’ve never ridden in front of that many people. It definitely kicked the crap out of road nationals, because there’s a lot of motivation. There were also several people who were yelling ‘CRCA!’ and ‘New York City!’ and all that stuff.”
Ian Harris was more introspective:
“Next year, I’ll have to work on my start, because I did my first ever wheelie (didn’t lean forward enough) and lost a bunch of spots at the start. Then there was Problem 1 – a big crash in the first turn, which Graham and I were behind, but we got into a good-sized group after that. I was hurting a lot since I hadn’t raced in 4 weeks. I’ve been so busy with [college] applications, but I’ve been running and lifting. I was getting dropped and then chasing back onto Graham’s group until Problem 2 – I flatted on the 2nd lap, like right past the pit, and I had to run basically the whole course. It was pretty cool though with the big crowds cheering me on. When I finally got to Gary [Keblish] I got on his bike, but Problem 3 – he had put on Shimano pedals for Connor and Graham. So I rode half-a-lap without clipping in. Then I got my bike back with a different wheel, which was rubbing my back brake hard. Graham got DQ’ed for running backwards on the course after his bike blew up. His bottom bracket came off.”
Major thanks to Gary Keblish for his superlative help in the pits, and for all the riotous New Yorkers who made the trip and cheered on the lads.