This weekend brought us the 4th race in the Boulder Racing series, set for 'South Valmont Bike Park'. This was the same venue used previously this season, but running the course almost backward from the previous iterations resulted in an entirely different course. It was curvy and flowing, with short, steep sections requiring explosive power, rather than the long grinding hill of the traditional version. Mixed in with a little mud, this course may have been our favorite ever at this world class venue that will host the National Championships next season. Sunday was Alpha CX, a mainstay of the past few years on the calendar, held on a course that is almost all lush grass (well, except for the two sandpits and some short sidewalk sections!). This is always a power, rather than technical, course so doesn't play to our strengths as riders. But, in the spirit of training our weaknesses, it's probably perfectly timed in the season to give us a late boost!
There's only 4 more weekends of Colorado racing after this, then the calendar is blank until mid January when we head out to Madison, WI for Nationals, then Louisville, KY for Worlds. We're really excited!
On a down note, Rob injured himself during warmups for yesterday's Alpha race. It's a shame because that course was perfect for him. Our thoughts are with him during rehab, and we're hoping he makes a triumphant return before the States race!
The racing schedule has changed due to the shorter days now, so I have shifted categories to race with the 45+ Open field at 8:15am. That gives us more time in between races so cool down, warm up, and kid handoff goes much more smoothly! I also should be more competitive in that field than the 35+ Open, so am looking forward to figuring more in races.
The Boulder course was fun and tricky in spots. As the first race of the day, I was able to get 4 preview laps in on the course to try to get it dialed. I got a decent start, and was just inside the top 20 on the first lap. I was digging hard and had soon climbed up to 12th place. A couple of mistakes (dropped chain and a missed turn) lost me spots, but I was able to gain them back. With two laps to go, I had 11th & 10th place in my sights and was gaining fast. Unfortunately, I blew a turn and crashed heavily, losing 2 spots before I got going again. This time I wasn't able to regain them and finished in 14th. Nonetheless, I was psyched with the result, knowing that I had made some mistakes and still gotten a decent result. Better focus and concentration would have put me solidly inside the top 10!
At Alpha CX I again got plenty of preview laps, although they weren't really necessary since the course wasn't too tricky--just heavy. I didn't get a great start, probably somewhere outside the top 20 going into the singletrack and chicanes. I made some aggressive passes on turns and soon found myself pulling the chase group as the lead group of 9 riders headed off. I was soon able to leave the chase and start to bridge solo. I was gaining on the leaders and eventually caught another rider who had come off the front group. We worked together for a couple laps, but weren't able to make any more progress. Each time he pulled, we would slow down, but I didn't have the power to just ride away from him. Finally, on the last lap, I was lining up to pass him when I blew a slippery turn. That gave him enough room to claim 9th place and I had to settle for 10th on the day. I was still really happy with that, since it's not at all my type of course, so I feel like it is a good indication of my form coming around. My confidence is high now and I definitely feel like I 'belong' at the front of the race.
Saturday's VBP course was definitely a favorite of mine. I loved the flow, short punchy climbs and we even hit both stair runups. I had a poor start but started moving up. I found myself in a group of 3 girls fighting it out for 3rd place. Ultimately I was able to pull ahead and hold on to that 3rd place spot despite going to the finishing straight with 2 of the best sprinters in the field--I was nervous! But I got a gap on them the last time past the pits, which I knew was the last best chance to pass.
Sunday's course as mentioned above, did not play to my strengths. However, I really wanted a good result since I'm in first place in the local points competition and want to hang on to that. The most technical section of the course was a short downhill into a sandpit. The trick was to "let it roll", get your weight back and trust that you weren't going to endo into the sand! I think this was my favorite part of the course. I had a great start and again found myself fighting out for 3rd until a poorly timed slide out in a corner going into the barriers. Ultimately I finished in 4th but still pretty happy with my result.
Next up is a race on Thanksgiving and races both Saturday and Sunday. Sunday's race is at a local dragster speedway, that'll be interesting! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and thanks for reading!