Mansfield Hollow CX Race Recap

So I finally did it. I raced my first cross race of the year. It felt good and horrible, all at the same time.

So for starters, I haven’t really been on my cross bike (or any bike for that matter) for the last couple months. I’ve been running more, trying new sports (like archery), and with the days getting shorter I can’t really ride my bike after work anymore. However, Mansfield was my favorite cross course last year, plus it’s local, so I knew I couldn’t miss it this year.

On Monday, I decided to break out the barriers Rich had built last year and work on my dismounts and remounts. This was something I didn’t ever do properly in a race last year. Not only did I lose a lot of time, but I also looked like a beginner. I figured even if I currently had poor fitness, I wanted to at least look like I knew what I was doing this year. After getting the basics down on Monday, I spent 5-10 minutes each day during the week practicing just getting on and off my bike. By race day, I felt pretty confident in my dismount, but I knew my remount was still in need of some work (specifically speed!).

We got to the race Saturday and learned that not only had they reversed the direction of the course, but they had changed it up a bit. As we pre-rode, I found there were still a lot of great features (sand, HIGH barriers, wooded sections, etc), but I must admit I did prefer last years course, as I thought it was more challenging all around (more sand, tough run up, etc).

Ready to go in my “pink is the new fast” kit for breast cancer awareness month

Being a smaller local race, they ran all the women together, the cat 1-3 started on the front line, with us 3/4 women behind. This was a little nerve racking, as I thought we were starting 2 minutes apart, but instead they sent us all at once. I ended up going out a little too fast, as I saw all the elites ahead and natural instinct is to not let people get too far ahead in a race.

I correctly (though slowly) dismounted for the first set of barriers but was passed by a girl from the expo team as I got back on the bike. I felt good and tried to pass, but she was smart and made some blocks. Once we hit the wooded section, however, I could feel her nerves and knew this was my opportunity. I took the harder line and going into a quick steep up, we were side by side. She didn’t make it up and bumped me, causing me to put a foot down. I was able to keep going and knew I needed to put a gap on her.

I stayed ahead until a swooping turn where she nabbed me by taking the inside line. I stayed on her wheel and as we approached some sandy sections, I could feel her slowing down. I decided to go around, but right when I did she slid and her wheel did a 180 taking me out. I hit the ground hard, and it took me a minute to assess the situation. By the time I got back up and on my bike, she was long gone and another girl had passed me. I was focused on catching them, and I went all out for the remainder of the lap. Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch them, and I realized I had just blown myself up (yes, I actually felt like I was going to puke!). The rest of the race I focused on staying strong and just doing things the correct way.

Overall, I felt like my technical skills were way ahead of this time last year. I was cornering better, dismounting properly and overall just felt more confident on the bike. By the last lap, however, I was tired and began to get sloppy and slow. Just getting back on my bike each time felt like a huge chore. I was half way through the final lap when I realized I still had not been lapped by any of the elites. At this point I began to semi panic, as I knew I was too tired to have to do another lap of the course.

Luckily, with about a quarter of a lap to go, I was passed. I can honestly say, this was the first time I was relieved to get lapped. I tried to push hard the rest of the lap, but it was just a flat open section and I didn’t have much left in the tank. I was happy to be done, although I was pretty sure I was DFL.

Smiling bc I am DONE!

At first I was pretty upset with my result. I knew my fitness wasn’t there, but it wasn’t at this point last year either. I thought I’d made huge improvements in my handling skills and dismounts, yet last year I had managed to beat 2 or 3 women at this race and this year I wasn’t even close to anyone. I had to tell myself to focus on the positives, so here they are:

1)I dismounted correctly every time
2)I made it much longer before getting lapped by an elite
3)My field was significantly faster then last year (top 3 in mine beat bottom 3 in 1,2,3)
4)Cross results had predicted me to finish last, so I didn’t do worse then predicted
5)Comparing my lap speeds with last year, I was significantly faster
6)I actually finished a cross race tired (yes this is a positive bc in the past I would never go hard enough and have too much left at the end)

Overall, I know I now need to focus on my fitness and my results will improve, I’ve discovered running 9 miles at an easy pace does not adequately prepare you for the intense nature of cyclocross racing, and I can’t wait to get back out there and do it again!

About Crystal

I'm a professional archer who also enjoys participating in mountain biking, cyclocross, swimming and running races. I race more for the fun and excitement than for top places and awards (or at least I try!), and my true passion is coaching others. I have a weakness for ice cream and a good espresso. I love being outdoors, and my dream is to one day own 100 acres.

Posted on October 15, 2012, in Biking, Cyclocross, Fitness, Racing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I don’t know anything about Cyclocross racing other than what you described and it sounds more intense than just a cycle race! Good for you to go ‘all out’ so you could feel like you gave it your all. Even though a race is technically against ‘other people’ I truly think its about challenging yourself (which is hard to do especially if you are competitive like me).

    And with your 6 positives at the end, I think you did just beat yourself 🙂 so congrats!

  2. Yeah, it’s one of the hardest things you can do in such a short time frame (races typically last between 30-45 mins), but it is also so much fun! And thank you for your kind words! I’m working on focusing on the positives instead of the negatives, but it can still be tough.

  1. Pingback: I wasn’t in the bottom 25% « Crystal Fun2Race

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