I hadn’t touched my cross bike in over 2 months, but I figured I’d try to get some valuable UCI points at the Kingsport Cyclocross Cup this past weekend. The state series races in the southeast have still been running strong, so though no one is peaking by any means, they are still fairly fit and race-ready. A lot of the local racers had strong races at Nationals as well. I knew I had nothing to lose; the fields were small and the pressure was off.
Over the past week, we received about 10 in. of snow in Asheville. The forecast for the weekend was in the high 40’s and I was looking forward to a mudfest. Dave opted out of racing and got ready to be a super mechanic and race supporter…I got the full Pro treatment! We were totally prepared for anything this race might throw at us. I don’t have a pit bike, but I got to borrow Dave’s wheels and put my own in the pit (we usually share a set).
We pulled up to the venue in dismay as there was no snow in sight on the course! It was icy and muddy in sections, but all in all, a hard-packed, fast, flat course. I can’t say that my mind or body were anywhere near ready to race this early in the year, but that changed as soon as we got my bikes set up (I brought my road bike to warm up on). I felt calm and focused and did everything perfectly leading up to the race.
Over the entire year I’ve focused on my starts a lot and that helped me get the hole shot pretty easily. By a quarter of the first lap three of us had a sizable gap and barring any catastrophes, the podium was decided very early on. Our gap kept growing. The work load was shared pretty evenly; I did well on the technical sections and was the only one who didn’t crash…I would get a gap there and the other ladies would catch up on the straightaways.
The course started out very hard, rutted out and icy and I actually lost my power tap head unit on a bumpy section on the first lap (I have it now), foiling my first attempt to record my heart rate. Just before the start of the bell lap I got pinched into the tape after a log barrier and nearly crashed as my bike bounced around on the ruts. Meanwhile, the girl who was leading attacked. I wasted at least 5 seconds from that mishap and couldn’t recover. I was making up time, but a lap wasn’t enough to catch them.
The girl who was leading slid out on a technical part and the other girl attacked, so that was pretty much the race. I finished 30 seconds down from the leader and under 10 from 2nd place. However I’m happy because I had more confidence than I’ve had in a while…going into the race I knew both ladies have been were in better shape than me, but I didn’t stop fighting. It was fun to contest the win and it really could have gone to any of us since we were pretty evenly matched. Of course, I wish I made my mistake earlier on (or not at all!), but that’s racing…
Still, it was fun, a great workout and a good wake-up call after over 2 months off from cross….AND I don’t have to start on the last row anymore! After a shortened season and my first as an Elite racer, I’ve surprised myself, stood on a UCI podium and earned 22 UCI points. Thanks to the promoters for bringing more UCI level events to the area, Dave, the best boyfriend ever, and Bob’s Red Mill! I’m already looking forward to September!