Well, it sure took damn long enough! FINALLY. Finally I put all the pieces together for a cyclocross race this year. I finally felt worthy of my Cat 3 status, finally felt like I raced, finally felt there mentally, and finally ran the 5280 stairs!
I was excited to race again at Valmont, even though the Boulder Cup there in September almost made me end my ‘cross season after hitting a very very very very very low spot. The weather has been crazy beautiful for this time of year – it was sunny and 70 degrees for the race! I honestly felt a bit too hot! They were using a more “traditional” type of Valmont course – so that meant super high speed, lots of pure power sections, and also technical features that lend well to my mountain bike skills. It was very similar to the CycloX course last year, along with Nationals, which were two races I did well at.
During staging I realized Catherine Pendrel was there, as an added bonus! I also realized how much of a XCO fan girl I must be, because it seemed like no one else noticed (or cared) that the current XC MTB World Champ was amongst us (she was racing open, and left our 3/4 staging, haha. though it would’ve been fun to race against her!). I had a 3rd row call up, no big surprise. My start was ok, but I didn’t go too crazy because there’s a long climb shortly after the start.
First lap I never lost contact with someone in front of me. And I got to the dreaded 5280 Stairs, and for the first time in my life, I ran those damn things! All of them! I’ve always been able to sprint the Belgian Stairs at Valmont, but the 5280 Stairs have always been a curse. Not today 😀 I apparently woke up in beast mode!
Second and third laps continued to go well, and yep, I still was running the 5280! I knew Maureen was coming up behind me, but I was managing to hold her off, especially in the more technical or rough sections. I was feeling really strong, and proud of my cornering and staying off the brakes. And hey, I was clearing the table top jumps on the fast descent! Woohoo!
On the fourth lap Maureen caught my wheel on the long start/finish stretch and passed me on the climb. I stuck with her well, and ran half way up the 5280 stairs, and then I had to walk. I was tired and I knew even if I somehow got past her on the run up she’d come around again on the longer straight aways. Needless to say, she did manage to gap me by the end of the lap, and I do believe finished 9 seconds ahead of me. So I “won” last place again, but by the closet margin to date! There were actually 4 or 5 of us within a minute of each other, and I finished 4 minutes off the winner, which is a considerably smaller gap than previous races!
As I was coming into the finishing straight I heard a pack of cat 4 girls behind me (only two had caught me this race up until that point) and I did the most insane sprint of my life! Seriously, totally wish I had a power meter for that! I was lifting my front wheel I was mashing so hard… I crossed the line solo and at about 24 mph. Woohoo! Seriously, not sure where this beast mode came from for this race, but I was loving it!
Funny enough, it was my best race of the season, and there were no photographers… so there’s no photos of this epicness 😦
Compared to last year’s CycloX Valmont, I averaged over 1mph faster and my lap times were a minute or more faster. Wow! OK, I needed this race. Finally I could compare to last year and see how much I’ve improved, and I finally had a great race in SW3. Oh Valmont, thanks for tickling my soul and making up for the horrid day of the Boulder Cup!
Now I’m feeling a bit better going into the final races of the season… I have 3 races left on my “CycloX 5-Pack,” so I’ll be at Interlocken this weekend, make an appearance at the Cheyenne Cross on Sunday, take Halloween weekend off due to my BFF’s wedding at DISNEY WORLD!!!, then CycloX Sierra Lake, Mile High Urban Cross Chaos, CycloX Louisville, regional championships, and state championships. Whew… it’s winding down!