***Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Chris Baddick's name.
The University of Colorado's cycling team hopes that the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Conference's race in Snowmass Village on Sept. 22 was a tell-tale sign of how the team will perform at nationals in late October.
That weekend in Aspen, a trio of men — Sepp Kuss, 19, Chris Baddick, 25, and Sam Morrison, 23 — formed a leading herd on the second day of the race in the men's cross-country category-A division. They clinched the three podium positions that Sunday.
"It's always interesting lining up with 40 guys — and there is no one on the start line you don't know," said Baddick, a masters student in neurophysiology. "Most of the time you have an idea about who will be in the front — and as soon as that gun goes off, we all know what is going to happen."
The CU team is now holding second place in the conference with 549-points, while Fort Lewis College dominates with 739-points. There's not much time to catch up, with only one race left until the Collegiate National Championship in Banner Elk, N.C., on the weekend of Oct. 25.
"These races are pretty low-key, and more about just having fun. For us, it's kind of the end of the season," Morrison said. "But nationals are coming up here — we take those more seriously and get a little bit more nervous for those."
Training has been tricky for the team lately thanks to flood damage, which has closed most of Boulder County's trails. But at this point in the season, they're able to make do, Morrison said.
"If you can get out one or two days on the road, or even an hour or two it is pretty much enough to keep you going, especially at this point," Morrison said. "In the fall we are all tapering down and getting ready for the winter — autumn we race for CU, and in the spring and winter we race for other teams."
This weekend's race in Grand Junction, at Colorado Mesa University, is scheduled to be the conference final and the last race before national — unless the government shutdown causes organizers to reschedule.
For more information, visit: cucycling.com.
Contact Gavin B. Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.