I had been planning to race some CX this fall. I really wanted to do some CX before I left for Brasil, but I didn’t get my bike when I expected…and also smashed my face rendering me useless for 2 weeks. CX would have to wait till I got back from Brasil, and it was hard with a sweet bike and a unicorn skinsuit in my possession! I’m racing for a team out of Austin – Team Super Awesome.
Here are three short reports from my CX racing the last 2 weekends:
I got back from Brasil on Tuesday, 2 weeks ago. 5 days after that, I found myself at the start line in Golden, CO on a bike I had ridden twice. My heart was pounding with excitement and nerves (Was I really racing with tubes?!?!) I tried not to care or notice the jet lag and fatigue. I was actually surprised that I could race at all considering the 250 miles I rode the week before. If I had raced in Brasil, I wouldn’t have been able to line up that day. I was blabbing away with people at what I thought was the start line wondering where everyone was. I looked up and saw about 40 yards back was the actual start line. I high-tailed it over there and as I took my spot, the official gave us 30 sec. At GO, I realized the rookie mistake I made. I was in the little ring! I was fumbling with the road bike shifters (SRAM FORCE, good stuff) trying to figure out how to work them. I had only used SRAM Force twice and under race pressure, I was failing. Why won’t the brake lever move to let me shift?! Not to worry, it was funny and I got it figured out. My mistake caused me a less than optimal start. Lisa had jetted off the front and once I got into my big ring, I chased her down. We rode the first lap pretty close together with her leading. From there, my clumsy riding and travel fatigue had me riding one speed with Lisa opening an enormous gap. She was much stronger that day. 3rd was pretty far back and I knew I wasn’t catching Lisa, so I decided to try some new things. Step 1. Bunny hopping the mini barriers. It was fun and not as hard as you’d think! Step 2. Beer feed… three times. The beer feed was on a steep run up. After the first one, I almost puked and decided to take smaller sips the next times! I yelled to Lisa on a part of the course where we circled around each other although many seconds apart. that I took a beer feed and she decided to partake on the next lap as well!
The field was small, but I’d graciously take 2nd place that day. The cape, the beer feed, the bunny hops, and having my friends at the race is what made the day!
I decided to be a little more prepared for the next weekend. I got my wheels set up tubeless using a Stan’s Conversion kit with my Conti Cyclocross Race tires. I also rode my CX bike during the week to get used to being on a road bike handlebar(44cm for good measure!) and my SRAM shifters. After I got used to them, they were and are rad! I am still trying to figure out what tire pressure to run. I will also be upgrading my wheels at some point very soon… the Rovals that came stock on my bike are 1650g. Compared to racing people with super light carbon tubulars, that .5 lb in rotational weight makes a big difference. Yeah, weight weenie. *raises hand*
This race was very exciting and VERY windy. The field was a lot bigger and I knew where to line up. I ate a gel a few minutes before the start and looked down to see half of it dripping down my skinsuit. Still clumsy. I tried to wipe it away before anyone noticed. ha!
When the official said go, I went. I was a lot more rested. No jet lag. No ride fatigue. No travel fatigue. I hammered into the wind and by the time I rounded the first corner after the long straight-away, I saw I had gapped the field. I figured I’d get caught but nonetheless, kept going. Kristal Boni and Lisa Hudson were coming for me. After a lap or two, Kristal made contact and passed me.
I dangled about 10 ft behind her for quite some time. I’d grab her wheel, then lose her through the barriers. She was MUCH smoother than me! Lisa wasn’t too far back either, maybe 20 seconds. With about 1.5 laps to go, Kristal had slowed down and Lisa was getting dangerously close. I knew it was a little early, but I made a decision and attacked. I came around Kristal in a windy straight away, but she was able to shut the attack down and rode behind me for the remainder of the lap. On the bell lap, she launched a fierce attack that I was unable to counter. In the end, she beat me by 3 seconds. Bravo!!!!
The wind did not die down. In fact, I think it may have been blowing even harder for Sunday’s race. The course was in Broomfield and very exposed. It was designed by the famous Pete Webber. I was pleased to see some technical aspects to the course, and was throttled by the long, flat straight aways into the debilitating headwind. The cape would have to stay in the car.
We had another big field. I managed to spill gel on myself AGAIN and decided it was the wind. I admit to feeling a little intimidated at the start and did not charge forward as aggressively as I normally do. At go, Margell took the lead and by the time we hit the first little hill in the grass, I positioned myself behind her in 2nd place.
On the next straight away into the wind, Kristal and Karen Hogan passed and I jumped behind them. The four of us made our own lead group. Awhile later in the lap, I slid out and found myself on the ground in a corner. It happened so fast. Was it the wind? Did I screw up? It didn’t matter, the chase group was passing me as I frantically tried to scrape myself up off the ground and get the F out of the way before getting run over. It was too late. I knew in that wind, I would not be chasing down the lead group. I got back on my bike and chased after the chase group making contact. I slowly picked them all off except from Kristin Webber and the chase group blew apart. I spent the rest of the race riding in the same position and unable to move up any further. I chuckled at the blood on my top tube.
I was 6th place on Sunday. Cross racing is tough. One mishap, and you’re likely out of contention unless conditions are perfect. With a 30 mph headwind, no. With 50-100 mile mountain bike races or stage races, you can have some mishaps- flats, crashes, bonking, blowing up and still come back to win. They are both exciting!
Perfect photo by Shawn Lortie!
It’s been a blast racing CX! I’ll be spending the next couple weekends either visiting family or riding my mountain bike while I still can, but I’ll be back out on the CX bike on Dec 10-11. See you at the races!