Cross is still here!

Photo by Ryan Muncy

Photo by Ryan Muncy

Whew, what a busy cyclocross season!  This year I decided to jump into racing a full, complete season of single speed cross, targeting the Without Limits and Colorado Cross Cup series.  This was something new for me, as usually cyclocross served a purpose 1) drinking beer while pedaling a bike around in cycles, 2) snidely displaying mountain biker skills on “scary” features, 3) getting burned out by getting my ass utterly kicked every weekend by girls who actually train for this craziness.

Cross of the North weekend is always a major highlight for me, being the “local” cross option and just being awesome.

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  • Friday SS4/5 Race: We started behind the SW4 and SW3 groups (and other men’s groups), which led to a LOT of course traffic.  Being female in a male category, I more than once had to (sometimes sternly) explain to SW3/4 racers that I was not in their category.  Didn’t stop one chick from beating me over the head with her bike on the run up repeatedly, but I digress.  A positive is that we don’t necessarily deal with course traffic a lot in CO cross races, so it was a good experience.  First lap in I cut a corner a bit close to the hard fencing near the pit area, and a metal tab that was sticking out jabbed into my butt and tore the right side of the bibs I was wearing off (and they weren’t mine… sad, as I was borrowing a kit), which left me indecently exposed for the rest of the race.  Overall, I was happy with how the race went, and assumed I had finished in 4th place… so I went quickly to my car and covered my butt up with some clothes and took to recovering before the elite race.  That’s when a friend congratulated me on my podium finish… I had come in 3rd!
  • Friday “Under the Lights” Elite Women Race: Wow, racing with gears!  I did this as I just wanted to experience a nighttime cross race.  Right at the start another girl went down hard and watching the crash made my heart jump.  Without question I stopped and asked if she was alright and did the best quick assessment I could with my race brain.  I had tears in my eyes, as it really freaked me out seeing her go over the bars that hard.  Some spectators ran down to assist her, and I took off to try to stay ahead of the master’s women group that had started.  My to my surprise I chased back to the tail end of the elite race!  I would end up 17th, and was oh so happy when Erin Huck lapped me right at the end of my final lap to end my race.  (My geared vs. SS overall race time was within seconds of each other.  SS, therefore, wins the debate)
  • Saturday & Sunday SS4/5: COTN is known for awesome, technical courses so I enjoyed the challenge of steep descents and tough climbing.  I would finish 10th and 6th to round out the weekend.  SS4/5 has gotten crazy fast this year, so I was happy to I could hang with some of the guys on my weekend away from racing the women’s SS category (which COTN didn’t offer).
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Photo by Brent Murphy

Photo by Brent Murphy

Photo by Brent Murphy

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Photo by ShotWilliam

Next up was the US Open of CX weekend in Boulder.  I had been planning this for months, as it’s the only UCI race held in this area, and I figured it would give me the chance to actually use my UCI license for something!  Unfortunately it was pushing 80 degrees both days, which was horrible, and my lungs were still filled with dust from COTN the previous weekend.  I use to like racing at Valmont Bike Park, but the steep run ups and staircases just don’t bode well for my legs so I struggled.

  • Saturday SSW: My birthday!  I won the holeshot, over Katie Clouse of all people, but probably paid the price for my crazy ass starting sprint as I never could recover from the effort.  Unfortunately I would trip on the Belgian Stairs, and lose contact with Errin and fall to 4th place.  I really did not feel well after the race ended, and so I decided to DNS my UCI elite race in the afternoon and head home for some couch-and-cat recovery and “me time” for my 33rd birthday.
  • Sunday SSW: More fast chicks for this race (anyone without a UCI license tends to pick up single speeding suddenly on the UCI weekend), and I decided to NOT repeat Saturday’s start.  This was a good strategy as I felt strong from the beginning.  It would be the stupidly steep run up (or hobble up in my case) with little recovery before an off camber climb and 5280 Stairs that would get me, and I would finish 5th on the day.
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Photo by Shawn Curry

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Photo by Shawn Curry

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Photo by Shawn Curry

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Photo by Terri Smith

My lungs remained unhappy in the week after US Open and leading up to this prior weekend’s races.  I had never done Schoolyard Cross before, so I decided to take the chance and attend, knowing that all the points I can get would be good.  Plus it would be my warm up for CycloX Flatirons, because at this point the ONLY time I’m riding my bike is on the weekend during races.

  • Schoolyard SSW: Heather, Errin, and I were the only ones racing what would be an awesome single speed course.  It’s nothing technical, but has enough that forces you to keep power on the pedals.  Big plus for me is that there was only two sets of barriers, so only two short on-offs the bike, unlike Valmont the weekend before.  I took the holeshot, but it wasn’t long before Heather left us in her dust.  On the second lap I got around Errin, and settled into 2nd place for the rest of the race.  I really enjoyed the course, and it was fun to do something new!
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    Photo by Terri Smith

    Photo by Terri Smith

  • CycloX Flatirons SSW:  Last time I raced this event was in 2013, and it was one of my first ever cross races.  The rest of the years I made up some excuse of how I hated the course.  Ummm, I LOVED it this time around!  Yeah, it was challenging, and thankfully it was dry, but maybe grass is becoming my thing after all?  Liz immediately took the lead, and I settled into 2nd, and built a comfortable cushion for the rest of the laps.  Off camber downhills were fun, and even the part that required running my bike up a hill and over some wonky barriers wasn’t that bad!  On my second to last lap I tried to take a beer hand up and ended up pouring it down the front of myself, so on my last lap I stopped to enjoy the beer shot before continuing on my way.  Without Limits does chip timing, and I was very surprised to see that my laps were all within a few seconds of each other, except for the last one.  Because the course was slow moving for the first half there was a TON of course traffic.  I was envious of Liz’s ability to run through the throngs of guys.  Definitely good practice, though I really enjoyed the later laps when I had some breathing room.  Second 2nd place of the weekend!
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So that’s the quick and dirty recap of my cross season thus far!  I do believe I have six planned races left of the season.  I’m hoping I can hold onto my Cross Cup lead!

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