For the love of mud: CycloX Louisville

 

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Photo by Brent Murphy

After a season marked by short sleeves, bare legs, and dusty conditions, we finally got some crossy-cross weather this past weekend at CycloX Louisville!

This would be the first time I’ve ridden/raced my singlespeed in non-dry conditions (barring the couple feet of mushy grass at CycloX Interlocken, and the one mud pit at CycloX Harlow Platts that was a whole 5 feet wide).  So I didn’t know what to expect, and how hard it would make things.  The sunshine was quickly melting the snow and frozen ground, and the difference between my preride at 9:30 and my race at 10:30 were remarkable.  On my preride I cleared all the climbs minus the long one at the start, but during my race it was futile to try to make it up most of the substantial climbs as the slippery mud just slipped under my tires.

I actually had a horrible start.  It was one of those, “Oh, oh are we racing?!” as I fumbled for a pedal when the whistle blew.  My left foot must’ve packed on a lot of mud just standing at the start, and for the life of me I couldn’t get that foot clipped in.  I laughed because Maura yelled out, “I can’t clip in!” and I was thankful I wasn’t the only one.  The start at the “Bowl of Death” is a straight sprint into the long climb, which I think I made it maybe halfway up before I had to get off and start running in the crowd.  But I could never really get into race mode, whatever race mode was.

Liz stayed in sight in first place, and I was close to the eventual second place finisher for a few laps.  Because the single speed women (SSW) start behind the men’s 40+ and 50+ cat 4 fields, we often encounter a lot of course traffic, and this race was no exception… maybe even worse as the rare conditions challenged the newer racers who put their lack of mud handling skills on display.  Led to a couple of frustrating moments as I fought to stay with the other gal and navigate the slow traffic.  I actually took over 2nd place for a bit until course traffic snagged me up, and I lost contact for good.  Shucks!

Photo by Brent Murphy

Photo by Brent Murphy

By the fourth, and final, lap I had passed numerous geared racers with broken derailleurs, and I could feel/hear my chain starting to skip and be angry.  But luckily not having any derailleurs kept me rolling good, but my legs were fatigued from fighting the mud and slippery slop.  This whole mud stuff is hard work!  I hung on for 3rd place, completely pooped by the final climb up to the finish where I just casually walked my bike up it (running wasn’t working out as my feet just slipped on the mud, even with toe spikes) and slowly climbed back on my bike to ride across the finish.  Wasn’t by best race of the season, but finally I pulled together an okay effort at Louisville on the third try (previous years I always finished nearly last).

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This was also the finale for the Without Limits Shimano CycloX series.  I knew winning the overall would be tough with Liz just dominating like the badass she is… and that said, I landed in 2nd place by 3 points 😦  3 points, argh!

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My bike got just a wee bit dirty

Just regionals and states remain for cyclocross 2016!  Needless to say, this has been the cross season I have always wanted to have!  I’m not sure how I will end up fairing in the Colorado Cross Cup overall (my win at Blue Sky Cup didn’t garner me points since I was… the only one who showed up… which threw my points plan a bit), but I’m trying to not let that cast a shadow on how great of a season it has been!

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