In the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships two weekends ago in Madison, Wis., Boulder racers represented.
Local cyclists had top five finishes in races as diverse as the 65-69 men’s masters race (Rick Abbott, second place) to the 10-12 junior women’s race (Carrley Smith, second place) and pretty much everything in between. And in the elite women’s race, Boulder’s Nicole Duke raced herself to a podium spot — third place. Kudos, Nicole.
But as I was poring over the results, there’s one race that made me smile when I saw the top two finishers. They’re two guys who have been racing and riding together for 20 years, and they showed that sometimes it’s really good to have a teammate.
Brandon Dwight and Pete Webber, both riding for Boulder Cycle Sport, took first and second places respectively in the 40-44 men’s masters race. I gave them a ring after nationals, while the two were in Louisville, Ky., awaiting the start of the Masters Cyclocross World Championships.
On the start line in Madison, with a 45-minute race in mud and ice ahead of them, Dwight and Webber both lined up in the front row — essential in ‘cross, they said — eager to put the hurt on the competition.
“We started quite aggressively, and our plan was to stay with whoever was leading the charge and see how things shook out after a lap or two,” Dwight said.
“Our hope was that we would sort of be by ourselves and sort of work together and when it came down to the end, we would race each other. And that’s kind of what happened.”
“It kind of worked out well for us, as teammates.”
If you’re not into cycling, it might be easy to look at this sport as an individual one — just ride really fast to the finish, right? But sometimes, even just one teammate can help you utterly destroy an opponent. Webber said that every cyclocross course has a different character, and the course in Madison was the kind that allowed them to work together.
Last year at the cylcocross nationals, the two racers also took first and second in their category, but reversed — Webber won the 2011 race.
“Last year was a little bit different,” Webber said. “It was a tighter race. Competition was closer together, and I went on the attack early and got a small gap on the rest of the field, and I just pushed for the finish.”
Webber and Dwight are well-matched racers.
In the end, though, it will come down to you and your teammate, and someone has to win. Back to Madison:
“With two laps to go, Brandon made a really strong acceleration on the main climb,” Webber said. “And he got a gap over me of maybe five or 10 seconds, and then he just kept pushing to the finish from there, and I was never able to regain contact, and the gap slowly grew out to about 20 seconds.”
“It was just a good, solid acceleration and he kept his foot on the gas pedal all the way to the finish.”
On Saturday, at the Worlds, they did it again — they hammered off the starting line, and this time, Webber took first, Dwight second. (And their teammate Kristin Weber snagged the silver in her race.)
To race at this level, you must be fit, strong and ride smart.
But it doesn’t hurt to have a teammate.