So a week after Nats, we headed to Louisville, KY home of the 2012 Masters World Championships. Worlds being hosted in the US is a first in the history of CX. Ever since this was announced I have been targeting this race. I was going with only hopes of the podium in mind, and really hoping for the top step. We arrived on Thurs and I raced on Sat. We stayed in a place in New Albany, IN, about a 20-25min drive to the venue. The house was situated up in the hills and offered a view of downtown Louisville. It was a cool place built from reclaimed wood from 4 barns and wood and stone carvings throughout. Had it been a different time of year, it would have offered great riding around the hills of Southern Indiana. My parents joined us from Washington State, so between them and Carl I had a built in cheering squad!
The reports from the venue had been "muddy", "standing water" and "don't preview the course outside of the 2-4 window". It was lightly snowing when we arrived in the area so we figured things would change. On Thursday we went by the host hotel to check in. Our start placings were determined by random draw and I drew #5, yay, front row!
On Friday it was time to preview the course. Things had definitely changed from the super muddy, standing water of just a day before. It was now, frozen ruts. I have to admit, I've never ridden on a course like that and mentally was a bit intimidated. Carl, having ridden in the conditions just the week before, helped me out a ton. We rode several laps together and I was feeling more and more comfortable. By the time we were finished I was super psyched for the race.
My race on Saturday was at 10:20 and based on the weather forecast I knew it would be frozen. That's okay, I was ready. So Saturday morning I rode 2 laps just to see if they had changed anything. There were a few places where the course tape had been moved to allow for a cleaner line. Great! I was ready. I had a good warmup and headed to the start line.
My field was about the same size as Nats, 18ish deep, but only a few girls were racing both events. This included myself and my friends Kristin Weber and Lisa Hudson. Lyne Bessette, a former pro from Canada was lining up with us as well. She was the heavy favorite for the race. We finally got called up and were off.
I had a great start and first lap and a half, riding in the top 3. Then, things turned. Going by the pits on the second lap, I rode the same line I had been but got thrown a bit and hooked my handlebars on the fencing next to the pits. I went down HARD. Harder then I think I have ever been thrown in a CX race. I popped back up, did a quick assessment of gear of body and was off again. Not so fast, within 50' I got thrown off my line and hooked my shifter in the fencing. Down I went again. This one felt even harder, it took me a moment to think if I was going to get back up. When I did, I realized my right shifter was broken. The Pit Official told me I could run back up the course to the entrance of the pits for my new bike. (I didn't realize this was possible. I thought once you were past the pit entrance you had to continue on the course, but if you are not past the exit flag you can turn around and go back). So I grabbed my 'B' bike and continued on.
I had been riding in 3rd up until all these crashes, but during this time I fell to 5th. So I set my sights on moving up and getting back in the race. I'm not exactly sure what was going on in my head but I do know this--I started doing everything wrong. I was looking where I didn't want to go, I wasn't thinking ahead, I was riding with my head down. I fell or went through the tape MANY more times and the frustration just continued in my head. I did manage to claw my way up to 4th only to have one final mishap on the final lap in the last corner and lose it, so 5th place it was.
Considering everything I had battled through, sure it was a good result. But, even now, the disappointment lingers. I really wanted the podium and there were tears shed at losing that goal. At the finish line I was greeted with hugs and words of support by my friends Kristin and Lisa, who had FANTASTIC rides for 2nd and 3rd. They were so great in offering comfort and I was/am incredibly happy for them.
I'm still working through the disappointment in not achieving my goal and trying to keep it all in perspective…I had a great ride at Nats, I've had my best season ever and ultimately this is a hobby; one I love, but not something that completely defines me.
The love I feel from my family and friends, that's what's important and irreplaceable. Now it's the off-season and time to heal bruises and egos and gear up for more fun next year.
Thanks for reading.