Cyclocross 2013: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
I started my second season of cross with a little experience, a lot of expectations, and an awesome new team, Rapid Racing! What I did not have, however, was much time on the bike.
First race of the season was a short TT on a super dry, bumpy course. Made the decision to ride a mountain bike and ended up winning the 4's, which was really exciting. The lack of bike training came back to bite me when the actual racing started, and I kind of muddled through the first part of the season mid pack.
Toward the end of September a friend with a ton of race experience offered to help me out with my training, who was I to say no? Results gradually got a little better and then, boom, I came away with the win at the Colorado Cross Classic at the Boulder Res. I love that course and was so excited to get a win. Little did I know I would have the high point and low point of the early season on the same weekend. The next day started with a huge amount of excitement to race the Boulder Cup at Valmont. I knew the course would be tougher, but I had a ton of confidence from the prior day and rode 4th or 5th for most of the race. On the last lap, I ended up catching and passing 2 racers, but then got passed by one of them on the final climb. Managed to catch back on and rounded the last turn on her wheel prepared to sprint it out for third-unfortunately, my excitement exceeded my bike handling and I went down hard in front of about 2 dozen spectators. I was able to get back on the bike and finish 4th, but then ended up in urgent care for 5 stitches.
After a 2 week training (but no racing) block, I was raring to go for the first Xlinx race, but ended up with a mediocre finish and a bit of frustration, and then more frustration the following week with another below-expectation finish.
Then came the Blue Sky Cup, another race at one of my favorite venues. I tried to clear my mind of the past weekends disappointments and only focus on doing the best that I could. Was really pleased to get my legs back and finished 4th.
Next weekend rolled around and it was time for the infamous Louisville Bowl of Death. Such a fun course, but so much harder than it looks. Pre rode the course and it hurt already, and I knew the high winds weren't going to help anything. Expectations were low, but after watching Kristal battle back from a mechanical, I knew I had to give it my all. The flat fast start suited me and I managed the hole shot which I somehow kept for the whole race! Win number 2!!
Then came the good and bad email; "Congratulations, you have to upgrade." Yikes!
The rest of the season racing as a 3 felt like starting all over again. Fast starts, faster girls, and much more competitive in general. Crashed lap one in my first race and ended up looking like I was pig wrestling instead of bike racing, but finished. Race 2 was a little better, but still felt like I was a bit over my head. States definitely felt like my best race of the year, not results wise, but I pushed hard, took chances, and rode the best I could.
The end of the season was totally anti-climactic. Got some terrific training in over Christmas and New Years in preparation for Nationals, and then crashed pre-riding 2 days before my race and re-opened my knee injury. The knee was too swollen to pedal, let alone run stairs or remount, so I was a spectator instead. Disappointing, but definitely fueled the fire for next year.
It was a massive learning year for me in every aspect—training, racing, bike handling, and injury management, and I still have so much to learn. Preparation for the 2014 cross season has started already!
Love my Unovelo cross bike and thanks to Fluid and FRS for keeping me fueled and Runa for helping me wake up in the mornings this season!
Huge thanks to Kristal and Carl for all of your advise on racing and technique as well as always enthusiastic cheering as I suffered. Thank you so much for inviting me to Rapid Racing and I promise I will be faster next year! Thanks also to Bard and Rob for the cheering and encouragement.