US Open of Cyclocross
Last year I swore I would not do the Colorado Cross Classic, or what it’s called this year – the US Open of Cyclocross – again. Last year I was pulled pretty early (prematurely I’d say by the officials) and I was getting sick and the course kinda (well, actually DOES) suck. Funny enough, the alarm went off at 4:30am and on the road to Boulder Reservoir I went. I don’t seem to learn sometimes.
It was a chilly morning, but I resisted the urge to pile on the clothes. People were flatting just walking their bikes to the pits, and yep, there were a few goat heads stuck in my pit bike’s tires, though they were green and soft. By this time I wasn’t quite amused and debated pre-riding or not. Ended up doing a lap. Yeah, this is my least favorite venue and course. The grassy/goathead stuff is ok, except super rough, and then half the course was sand. Literally sand everywhere! Last year had some sand, but holy crap they decided to go overboard this year. No barriers, just tons and tons and tons and tons of sand. Ugh. I realized I should’ve brought the Fate as a pit bike, or hell, even my main bike. Tubeless and the front suspension would help on the rough stuff. Hindsight is 20/20, right?
I had the second to last call up, no surprise. Cat 3 has been a rough overall learning curve for me. But I actually had an awesome start! Woohoo, Heidi’s Holeshot to Dead Last streak has returned! I was 3rd coming off the pavement onto the grass, and slowly/rapidly worked my way back from there. Felt good to have a nice start, but I just don’t get how all those girls continue to go faster?! Oh wait, my 2013 self would’ve been saying that about my 2014 self so…
I knew this wouldn’t be the race for me so I just concentrated on smooth cornering and trying to keep my tires inflated. The sand was hopeless. Maureen had to change bikes a few times so there were brief moments of me not being in last, but otherwise it was me off the back. No prancing or singing though this week. Also due to the muddy wet sand, my cleats and pedals weren’t agreeing and I spent a lot of time trying to get clipped in (I’m a noob who can’t pedal unless I’m clipped in it seems). I was actually hoping I’d get pulled and not have to do the full 5 laps. Funny, last year I was pissed about them pulling people and now I was wishing for it! Wouldn’t you know, I was the last one through before they started pulling people, so I was in for the long haul!
I ended up in 14th out of 16 (2 DNF’s in my class) in a time of 48:12.90. No flats, and the goat heads I discovered at home pulled out and the tires are still inflated so we’ll see what the morning will bring. As for my “method” of making me feel like it’s okay to be finishing last in cat 3, I would’ve been 6th in cat 4. Ugh, I know I did the right thing by upgrading instead of being “one of those girls” that seem to have the upgrade points but still hang out in their current category or hold a high license in another discipline, but not sure how comforting it is to know I could’ve been rocking cat 4 this year.
So yeah, Boulder Reservoir… I am not a fan and never will be. A sand pit is one thing, an entire beach is another. My poor bike is so crunchy! But let’s be positive – I did 5 laps and didn’t get pulled!
I was super excited going into Sunday’s Boulder Cup because it’s at Valmont Bike Park, and I love Valmont! My pre-ride went well once I actually got both bikes down to the course – it involved some hiking down hills and carrying two bikes through a field of cactus. I get that Boulder hates cars, but having a parking lot for Valmont would be a good idea… just sayin’. The course had a lot of steep climbs and descents, which tickled my mountain biker heart like Valmont always does. Sadly the Belgian Steps were omitted, which is the only run up of stairs I can ever run up.
22 gals in the SW3 field, and I didn’t have the last call up surprisingly. That was about the high point of the day… at the start I couldn’t clip in (Gowdy Grinder all over again), and was last place from the get go. I got gapped considerably on the first climb, which is something I haven’t historically struggled on at Valmont. On the first big steep descent I passed two girls with my rad “mountain biker who’s out of control on canti brakes” skills, but they caught me again. And that was kind of the end of it… I’d get kind of close to Katie and Elizabeth, and then the gap would get huge. I got really dejected. I wasn’t smiling, and I almost cried at one point. I knew I looked miserable, I felt miserable. This is not how cyclocross was suppose to go this year.
It was the moment I started hating bike racing. Not the fleeting feeling we all feel during a race – this had some lasting permanence for the rest of the day.
Needless to say, I finished 22nd. I NEED to stop seeing where I would’ve been in SW 4 (cough8thmaybecough). It’s not helping. I guess I’m struggling with the fact that I never had a “good” season of cyclocross before I upgraded. Aside from good results in December & January, I went from a bottom half cat 4 to dead effing last in cat 3. So I’m getting discouraged knowing that I could be having some good races if I was in a lower category, but wait, isn’t that a given?! I’m being whiny, I know. I’m just feeling so discouraged. My fitness feels so off from what I remember my “cross fitness” being last year, I can’t help to blame the fact I built my fitness around cross country mountain biking, which requires a 1.5-2 hour pace, not 40 minutes of sprinting. But I can’t be mad about that, mountain biking is my main discipline and I made huge strides this year (and I don’t feel dejected finishing last in open/pro/expert MTB races).
I tried to find a perk, and I decided on the fact that Katie Clouse never lapped me is good enough. Damn spry teenagers, LOL. I’m 3 for 3 on completing full races, too. No pulling. I also enjoyed chatting with Maureen on the long walk back to the car with our combined 4 bikes. She’s a recent SW3 upgrade (and current 60-64 cyclocross national champion!), and has been feeling some of the similar pains as me. She reinforced that we would get better throughout the season, and that I did EARN my upgrade, as much as I want to justify that I didn’t earn it (and that it was just a “moral decision”). It helped to talk to her, but I still felt a bit gloomy the rest of the day.
Put your big girl panties on, Heidi…
But alas… the skinsuit comes out to play next Saturday at Cyclo X Xilinx, which is another course I liked last year, even if I fell on my face because I tripped on a barrier 😀 (Speaking of barriers, there were NO barriers this entire weekend, wtf is up with that, UCI?) Here’s getting back in the saddle, and pedaling to DFL!