Considering I did race reports for nearly all my mountain bike races, I do find it odd that I haven’t been blogging about my cyclocross season. I suppose there can’t be too much to say: “I rode in circles, had to jump off the bike and run, and finish mid to bottom pack every time. And had fun!” Seriously! I’m at a lack of words the past couple of months…
Zero Gravel Cross – September 14th
This race I pre registered for before Colorado started flooding. Night before the race the WY-CO border was still closed until 8pm, until they opened Hwy 85 south out of Cheyenne. So I got up hella early, and hit the road in the fog, not knowing what I’d find in Colorado. Everyone told me I was crazy for going, but dammit, I pre registered and it was still on. I picked up a racing buddy in Greeley, and we discovered that getting to Littleton (south of Denver) was really easy. And we were way too early to the race! But what glorious stuff did we find? MUD MUD MUD!!!! YAY for true ‘cross weather!
I finished the race in 16th one lap down. The sun had turned the morning’s runny mud into peanut butter thick stickiness, and it was the most power robbing experience I ever had. Every pedal stroke was effort and my bike picked up several pounds of mud and grass as well. I made it my goal to ride a steep hill every lap that some were treating as a run up, and I did just that 4 times over!
Cyclo X Valmont – September 21st
I journeyed to the People’s Republic of Boulder to have a go at Valmont Bike Park for my first time. Parking? It sucks, and feels like it’s in a different zip code. Bathrooms? They rock because they’re not porta potties! This was my first race on my 2013 Specialized S-Works OSBB Crux frameset built up with the components from my ’12 Crux Apex. I did a quick shake down at North Park the previous day, but otherwise I was indeed racing on a brand new bike.
One word for this race: AWESOME! The big stair run up sucked, but otherwise I enjoyed the ever living crap out of the course! I felt it was very “mountain bike-y” and lots of power sections which tend to be my advantage, along with a longish climb near the start. If there’s anything I’ve learned over all my races is what my course advantage is, and it’s power/mountain bike-y. Grass and mud, not so much. Anywho, the goal of this race was to chase down Jen and hang with her. Which indeed I caught her, and passed her. On the last lap I went into frantic mode trying to stay ahead of her. During the second stair run up I sprinted up those suckers so fast you’d have no idea I can’t run and ride a bike at the same time! The previous lap I had fumbled a bacon hand up, and my friend was there again trying to give me bacon and I blurted out “No, I must beat her!” And off I went, baconless. 16th Place again, out of 27. I was jazzed 🙂 Jen told me she’d get me next time, and I accepted the challenge (I love her to pieces!)
Cyclo X Flatirons – September 27
This race had been rescheduled due to the floods. It was unique in the fact it was at Flatirons Mall, so unlike Valmont, the parking was awesome. It was nearly all grass with a small bit of mud and paved walking paths. It was a weird race experience. At the start I took off like a bat out of hell, and everyone else started really slow. Thinking that it’d be better to be in front when the course turned off the road and onto the grass, I just stuck with my awesome sprint moment and hit the grass in 1st place, and settled into second for about 1/3 of the first lap. Odd, and I felt like a rockstar for brief moments, at least until after the first run up where a guy was yelling to the girl behind me “come on, get second place and beat her!” I spent the rest of the 5 laps working backwards to 22nd place. LOL. At least I had the holeshot, right?
Once again, I put myself ahead of Jen and Celeste. Celeste got around me on the 4th lap, and about halfway through the last lap Jen got around me. Woe is me. I was absolutely spent (grass SUCKS, that’s all) and since there was no one nearby me on the rear I accepted where I was and suffered onto the finish. Not my best effort, and even Jen was like what the hell in regards to us going 21st & 22nd in the results. Then she told me my new bike made me a lot faster. Yay! 😀
Primalpalooza – October 6
This was indeed my best race so far this year for cyclocross! Unfortunately, it also showed my last lap bonk that happens way too much. Endurance? Who needs stinkin’ endurance…
This race seemed to be a disaster from before the start. During warm up some girl ran into my rear derailleur and bent the hanger so I had a “I’ll shift whenever I please” drivetrain. Second warm up lap I got the brilliant idea to try bunny hopping the short barriers. Cuz you know, I’ve never bunny hopped anything in my life, so it was a perfect time to try. Can you say deep tissue injury to my left thigh, crunchy noises in my shoulder, and re-cracking my left elbow along with ripping my pretty bar tape and bending my left brake hood all the way over? Yeah, it was a great time. So I rolled up to the start expecting a horrible race.
I didn’t have the best start, but placed myself well into the Top 10, and avoided the massive crash that happened behind me. The bike behaved for the most part, and once again the course was my preferred mountain bike-y style with climbing followed by a long descent to help me recover my heart rate before technical parts and a run up in the grass. I toppled over on one of the steep switchbacks, but otherwise had no other mishaps. I rode in 11th place until halfway through the final lap where three girls caught me out of nowhere and I couldn’t put in a solid chase. 14th out of 31, which is still great, but I had bits of sadness knowing that if I just had that much more fitness during my last lap it could’ve went better.
I also did another smart thing and wore my brand new Lake shoes that I got as a homie hook up from BOA. I didn’t tighten my cleats down super tight, so they turned as I tried to unclip. Wasn’t really an issue during the race, though the BOA dials were as they are the “pop up to release” kind, and when I had my one topple over my left shoe released and loosened up. One day I’ll learn not to try brand new equipment during a race. But all in all, considering all my disasters it was a great race!
Colorado Cross Classic – October 12th
Due to this being a UCI race, the SW4 women had a 8am start time (versus our usual 10:45am start). Double yuck, and I pulled into the parking lot and it was still dark outside. And cold. Very cold. Held at Boulder Reservoir, there was an unacceptable amount of sand. It was mostly a grass race (with lots of goatheads apparently – I survived just fine) besides the sand.
This was a race that just was crappy from the start. Bad start, and back of the pack almost immediately. I settled into for a battle for 16th place essentially. So I concentrated on clean cornering and good dismounting. Sometimes when my placing is going to be that hopeless I just have to fight the personal goals more than anything! Due to the time line and putting the SW35+ women in with us, I got pulled before even being lapped. Kinda annoyed at paying $40 for 5.8 miles and less than 40 minutes of racing, but oh well. I just wish that I would’ve known my last lap was actually my last lap so I could’ve fought for my position a bit better.
Turns out that afternoon the killer sore throat kicked in, and the fever, stuffiness, and cough. I picked up my first cold I had in years, so I’ve decided that is what I’m blaming, haha. I was suppose to do the Boulder Cup the next day at Valmont, but instead laid on the couch all day super sick. Sad I missed a Valmont race, but happy I was smart and didn’t go out and race sick like that!
So that’s my midterm report! With starting my new job in Cheyenne I am not sure how the rest of the season will shape up. I am very conscious about not burning myself out, and it’s hard to look at every weekend being a day I have to wake up early, drive to Colorado, race, drive home, etc. I do like racing for keeping me in shape and honing in some skills I get away with being sloppy at while mountain biking. But I know I gotta be careful. Essentially when ‘cross ends in January at Nationals I’ll really only have two months off before road season starts, and another month after that before mountain bike season starts again. It’s really non stop racing… this week I gave myself time off the bike to kick this cold, and probably won’t ride until my race on Saturday. Which I’m really only doing because I have to go to Fort Collins to buy cat food, and the race is also in Fort Collins, haha. Good excuse, right? I also know I need to start some basic training as I don’t want to get my ass kicked all summer long in mountain biking (ain’t driving to PA again unless it means a podium spot, dammit!).