Stage two of the Nature Valley Grand Prix was supposed to be a 66 mile road race starting and ending in the town of Cannon Falls south of Minneapolis.
Our day started out pretty lazy. The host housing that we had with Ken Schaffer is really sweet, and his place has a pool. So…being that the race started at 5 pm a few teammates and I, Noah Singer and Dan Campbell, decided to spend our free time working on our tans and lounging by the pool for most of the day. I know; the life of a bike racer is tough. We even had to wait an hour before the pool was open, and were left only with a hot tub for the time being.
The nice weather was pretty short lived; on the drive to Cannon Falls the skies turned dark and the winds kicked up to 20 mph out of the south. At the start everyone was talking of the impending gutter riding and field split.
The course was laid out in a lollipop, out and back with a loop at the end. The first few miles were into the wind and were very sketchy and nervous. The pack was about 15 riders wide at the front, and everyone was jockeying for position for when we had to make the left hand turn and start hitting the cross wind. I managed to stay pretty close to the front, and when the left hand turn came it was gutter city. It was a very windy race; gusts were pushing riders around who were sitting mid-pack, usually a place very sheltered.
A few attacks and rolling hills later I followed a move and found myself off the front of the pack at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, with a gap! Along with a few other amateurs and a Kenda rider, we built up a decent gap and made the left hand turn into the tail wind section of the loop.
Then one of the moto refs rolled up along side our group: “We’re turning around due to weather.” This seemed pretty unfair, the one time I managed to get off the front of the biggest race of the year, and the weather gods seem to intervene. But sure enough when we turned around to look, the entire pack was sitting idle at the intersection we had just turned at.
Rolling back to the pack, we found out the race had been completely canceled. There was a general sense of confusion about what to do as 150 cyclists, along with their caravan, sat idle in the middle of the road. Finally it was decided to turn the race into a large group ride back into town. All the while the South American’s and Canadians were looking at the low hanging dark clouds looming closer and closer and getting vocally worried.
So the pack slowly managed to start rolling back with the winds to Cannon Falls. However, the next thing we knew it every team van was rolling up to the field and the P-R-O’s were darting out of our massive group ride to hide in the shelter of the team vans. This reduced the size of our field by half, leaving only the amateur racers to pace back into the storm behind police escort.
When we reached the finish town, every part of the Nature Valley Grand Prix had been already disassembled and packed up, as if we had missed the race. We met up and piled back into the cars for Minneapolis.
The one bright side of finishing the race early was that we got to watch the NBA finals.
So another crit in downtown Minneapolis is scheduled for tomorrow, hopefully we’ll have some better luck there.