At the beginning of the season, I said that I was never going to race at Valmont. My lack of bike handling skills make all of the bank turns and whoop-di-whatnots seem like they are about 15 feet larger than they actually are...and I am not a big fan of crashing. With my in-laws in town acting like a built in babysitter, I gave into the temptation and registered for the race.
It was AMAZING! The course was so fun! While there was a lot of hard work involved (mostly all of those right hand turns and such-cyclocross is seriously 90% mental!), there was so much reward. I adored the long climb up the front side of the course and the stair running. Nice to be a “former runner” on that course.
After battling with some ladies for the entire race (that was new for me!), it came down to the final finish straight. I came out of the last turn onto the finishing straight 3rd to start my sprint until I was well clear of the gravely corner (thanks, Errin!). As soon as I turned, I put all of the power down that my legs could muster. I passed the first of the 2 ladies fairly quickly and went all out for the finish line. I snuck up on her right side (I don’t think she even knew I was there) and caught her just as we went over the line. It was the coolest feeling looking down and seeing our wheels going over the line together...and even cooler that mine was just in front of hers! Beat her by 0.02 seconds.
And then proceeded to try not to collapse onto the ground. It was the most exciting bike ride of my life!
If I just say, “that was hard,” is that enough of a “race report?” Holy moly. That.was.hard.
About 15 minutes before the race, I was warming up and broke a spoke. Thankfully, Terri (an awesome rider who was just about to race her first Cat 3 field), allowed me to borrow her husband’s wheel and kept my race dreams alive.
The race was pretty uneventful. A LOT of pedaling. Grass. Run ups. Sand. Right turns. Nothing overly exciting. I finished 15th race and was pretty okay with that result. After all, the next day would be another and my first and only double race weekend!
What a difference a day makes! I went into this race a little nervous. The day before provided a thoroughly exhausting race that made me question my sanity about even thinking about getting on my bike again (let alone racing). All of that was erased with the start of Blue Sky Velo. It is a glorious steep uphill asphalt climb. **Angels Singing** Exactly my cup of tea. Thanks to a little smaller of a field, I was able to have a front row call up. WHAT?! Front row and a climb. Music to my ears!
I went out hard at the start and got the Holeshot!!! I never in a million years would have bet on that happening this season, but it was AWESOME! I got to the top and hit the dirt first. By the bottom of the hill, my lack of experience had me sit up a bit to let some ladies pass so I could see what lines they were taking. With each lap, I gained more confidence and enjoyed the 2 lovely climbs on the course. It was a bit shocking that my legs felt so good (must be the trailer training!). I finished a solid 5th incredibly excited for that result!
Our Team’s Race!! Coming into this race, I had no idea what to expect. It is one of the few venues I had never spectated at and had no idea what the terrain would be like. It was pretty much a “love one half, terrified of the other half” kind of course. Errin was awesome and pre-rode the course with me. There was a section that was totally off camber and all right turns into the uphills. We were not friends. During the pre-ride I had to bail on 2 sections and stop to talk myself into one of the downhills. I was pretty nervous because this would be the first section of the course. Luckily, the backside was way more fun. Lots of climbing and a pretty long drag on the road.
Kristal gave me a pep talk about the off camber before the start and it totally helped. I started in the second row and went out pretty quick, but I backed off as we went in to the sketchy section. I ended up having to bail on one of the uphills because there were a ton of girls and we are all a little sketch with the bike handling part! By the time we went by the pits, Colin let me know that I was about 12th.
The rest of the first lap was great! I was able to ride all of the rest of the stuff that I couldn’t during the pre-ride. Thank you race adrenaline! Over the course of the race I passed a lot of ladies. Thank you uphills! Even the hard section was pretty relaxed by the last lap! There was a girl in front of me and I let her go a bit too far on the technical section and kind of just let her go....oh how I wish I hadn’t! I finished 4th, just 7 seconds behind her. Drats! Next time I am coming for you lady!! It was an awesome day of racing!!