North Carolina Grand Prix #1 &#2

Louisville ended a block of traveling for me and Dave.  We were tired, out of money, and looking forward to staying local for the North Carolina Grand Prix the following weekend.  Both of our work schedules had dwindled down to around ten hours a week, beyond our control…  Looking back I’m amazed that we still made it to the races but the pressure was definitely on for me to win some money so we could get through the week, one week at a time.

It took me several days but my health started to improve and I felt great by the weekend, both mentally and physically.  We hosted some friends from Team CF and it was good to hang out and catch up!

Last year, I earned my first UCI points ever at Hendersonville and this year I had my eye set on the podium.  Unfortunately this year the field was much smaller, since a lot of usual attendees were vying for the Master’s World Championships in Louisville (in which no UCI points are allowed).  It’s a shame that Master’s UCI points don’t exist because in my opinion, avoiding UCI races hurts the racers and promoters…

Anyway, our race lacked the big numbers of Louisville, but a high quality and depth of competitors did not disappoint.  I was motivated and took the lead from the start.  Soon after I was joined by two other riders and got pinched in a corner on a steep hill known as the “wall.”  I stalled out and had to put a point down, which cost me a few spots.

photo: Trish Albert/Cyclingnews.com

I chased back into 4th place, but was no match for my Team CF friends when they worked together.  The course incorporated a lot of flat sections, pavement, and it favored teamwork more than usual cx courses do.  For a while another girl sucked my wheel and I could tell we were losing time so I attacked and was by myself for the remainder of the race.  I was happy to hold my position but disappointed to be oh-so close to the podium!  I joined Dave and Chloe in the pit to hone my pit skills and support Ben Berden, the eventual winner of the men’s race.

HERE you can watch the race highlights (including my mistakes!)  and HERE is my post-race interview, courtesy of Cyclingdirt.

On Sunday I was much more focused and knew right away during my warm-up that I had the legs.  I lined up with confidence:

photo: Erica Chard

That didn’t matter as I promptly slipped on the ground and onto my top tube!  I scrambled to get into my pedals, already in last place but accelerated to fourth into the barriers.  This course was much more technical and more my style with a lot of slippery, technical turns.  The lead group whittled to three and I made the cut.  I cleared my head and for the rest of the race all that mattered was not making mistakes or getting passed!

photo: Trish Albert/Cyclingnews.com

We stuck together for much of the race and eventually split for a rather boring, evenly-spaced finish…however any major mistakes would have definitely changed the outcome.

This was a race in which every second mattered and I was proud of everything but the start!  It felt really good to put it all out there.  Likewise, I learned some of what I still need to work on..it is a never-ending process!

Blue and black..so hot this year!

photo: Weldon Weaver/Carolina Cycling News

Making the podium was awesome but even sweeter was the fact that after this weekend I qualified to enter the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cups (top-100 ranked riders in the world)!  Making this actually happen would be another story, as we couldn’t even afford to go to Iowa City the following week for Jingle Cross, let alone Europe, but I could still dream…

HERE are the race highlights from Day 2 and HERE is my second post-race interview.

Thanks to my sponsors and NCCX for making the weekend possible and fun!

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