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Evan Pardi Cyclocross Season Review

Evan Pardi is one of our Planet X sponsored Triathletes and Cyclocross racers based in Oregon, USA.  He is the reigning USAT Pacific Northwest Triathlon Champion, Team USA member and 3x All American. He studies double bass (musical instrument) at the University of Oregon and is an active member of both the Triathlon and classical music scene in the Northwest. Following a season of ups and downs, we catch up with Evan as he recaps his racing season:

So Evan, what’s going on with you at present?

“As the rain starts to pour and the wind whip up, I can confidently say that Oregon winter is here and with it the last of the cyclocross races for 2015. Before I go any further recapping my season I must take a second to thank Planet X for their ultra-kind hospitality this year. The whole team is filled with some of the friendliest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and I’m very proud to say I’ve witnessed some great racing out there, at all levels.”

This year you’ve been riding great, how have you found it?

“I’ve found that sometimes my best results come when I least expect them. For example, three years ago, on my first race aboard a Planet X Exocet, I was just hoping to have a good bike and run at the Portland Triathlon and land a podium but I would walk away with my first Pacific Northwest Championship title. A similar situation was to happen this year, but over a longer span of time for Cyclocross. I missed the first month of racing ‘Cross as I was finishing my Triathlon season and really focusing on the PNW Champs. In the past I’ve never really have treated ‘Cross with the kind of focus I give Triathlon. In the last two years I’ve dabbled in local races but never challenged myself to race higher than Cat C races, not until late last year when I raced one Cat B race. This year, when Triathlon season ended, I was determined to at least finish on one Cat B podium.  Little did I know I would be earning my Cat A license by the end of the season!

That’s fantastic, Evan. Your efforts have really paid off.  Can you plot out how you achieved this?


“I hadn’t really ridden my ‘Cross bike until late September, only riding it for excursions onto the gravel roads that meander through the Oregon coastal mountain range. It felt strange, but after two weeks of crashing on the trails around Eugene I was feeling really smooth on the bike again and enjoying the late season fitness from triathlon.  At our local PsycoCross series the Cat B and A races start together and I was very nervous at first. After the first lap, however, I was feeling much better as I’d stormed through the field and taken the lead. Hot on the heels of some Cat A riders, who started 30 seconds ahead, I rode smooth and my fitness felt good. Alas, I flatted on a thorn and got a DNF but all the signs were positive so I felt good knowing my level right up there.”

“Figuring it may have been a fluke, I decided to test myself again and headed to our Mecca of Cyclocross in Portland, Oregon, entering a local race there. I expected to badly, but that’s not what happened. Known to the Race Director as ‘that fast Planet X Tri guy’, I got the call-up and was inspired to crank it out on the first lap, taking the front again, only to suffer a crash. Filled with panic I rode the next 2 laps like a man possessed, re-taking the lead and driving the pace had, eventually dropping the field by almost a minute. A competitor did eventually catch up and we duked it out on the trails. Not 400 meters from the finish the guy made a bad pass, forcing me to crash into a tree. Enraged, I had to settle for 2nd place. But all is fair in love and Cyclocross, they say, so after a quick handshake and a Ninkasi beer, all was forgiven. Taking stock, I was elated once again with my riding, rolling smooth through the course and finishing a solid 2nd.”

That’s incredible, Evan. Good sportsmanship, too!

“Earning my first points towards my Cat A license, it occurred to me that I should race at more big races to earn more points! At that moment knew I’d have to go and do battle at the Cross Crusades. Oh boy…

Bob Ross said, “we don’t make mistakes, just happy accidents.” Obviously, he never raced in the Cross Crusade. The course in Bend, with its loose ground, long run ups, tight corners and large stones, meant no accident was happy. I showed up in Bend feeling even more scared than my first race, but also excited. I had won the Deschutes Triathlon in Bend earlier in the year so was hoping the form woudl continue.  From the gun I sprinted like a nut with my bike, past most of the field as they slowed for tight corners. I quickly grabbed a top 15 spot. After 2 more laps I had cranked through to 7th, then moved to 4th. Then, disaster. A slow leak forced me onto my mid-90s single-speed commuter with poor tires. I rode this monstrosity for a whole lap, whilst the great folks at Planet X fixed my best bike. Hopping back onto bike 1 I finishing the race in a satisfying 4th place, despite the puncture, earning solid points in the process.”

It takes a level-head to deal with ‘racing incidents’ and still go on to finish well.

 

“This race really got me pumped for the following day’s race. After hanging out with the Planet X Team at the ridiculously hilarious Clydesdales Masters of the Universe race, I hit the hay early, determined to have a vicious race the next day.  And race hard I did.  It was Halloween so it was a costume race - I went as a shark attack, which meant it was extremely cold riding in Bend in October, with no shirt. Freezing. I received the call-up, for my previous storming race effort, which gave me a clean start and I soared into 2nd place, onto the heels of the leader on the first lap. I wanted the lead as soon as I could get it, sprinting out of every corner, churning the big ring every chance I could. I soared past the leader on the 3rd lap and never looked back. By the end I’d opened a 30 second lead and stormed to my first Cross Crusade victory as a Cat B.  Dream definitely accomplished!”

Amazing result, Evan, especially considering the circumstances. Perhaps the shark attack fancy dress gave you extra bite?

 

“Despite this resounding success I needed one meager point for my Cat A license and decided what more appropriate race than the final Cross Crusade race weekend to go for victory. I convinced my girlfriend, Sarah, that driving us to this race would be exactly what she wanted to do for the weekend. Within minutes Sarah was heckling like a pro and spiking hot chocolate with rum – I think she got into it.  The race was a muddy affair and I was nervous about my first race in ‘real’ mud. This time I grabbed the lead early but the second place rider hung tight and followed throughout the course. We thought we had a solid lead but after 5 laps another rider came from nowhere and sped past both of us as we were trying to lap some riders. Caught up with lapped riders I got crashed into a tree (again) and lost any hope of a win. I quickly scrambled back onto my bike and managed to salvage 3rd place – and my points for my Cat A license!”

“The next day I raced the Cat A race for the first time – an exciting experience for sure! The race itself, however, was a disaster. In a muddy hell-hole my derailleur broke and after two bike changes and a crash, I ultimately had to abandon the race feeling battered and bruised. But the day certainly wasn’t a loss for Sarah, who, being a professional artist (see www.sarahannrichards.com) took some quality photos, from which she’ll use as reference material to paint the races! After a few Ninkasi beers with the Planet X team, the positives of the season clearly outweighed any irritations and we went home to Eugene feeling very happy to have had a great cyclocross season overall.”

Have you seen any other benefit from your CX racing this year?

“It seems the strength I gained from focusing on powering my bike through mud helped on Thanksgiving, where I cranked out a 33:20 10Km for the local Turkey Trot, shattering the previous course record!”

 

We’re glad everything is going so well, Evan, so here’s to a great season next year and to lots more success… Cheers!

Evan Pardi would like to thank his:  family, friends, team, Ninkasi Brewing, DRV Custom, and of course Planet X for all the support in helping me accomplish my athletic goals. I look forward to attacking the 2016 tri season with a vigor! 

You can find out more about Evan Pardi on social media such as Facebook and Twitter at Evan Pardi Triathlon and on his website, www.evanparditriathlon.com.

By Peter Morris, for Planet X Bikes.

8 December 2015

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