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).
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.
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!
Posted on October 15, 2012, in Biking, Cyclocross, Fitness, Racing and tagged archery, barriers, biking, breast cancer awareness month, cross, cyclocross, dismounts, fitness, mansfield hollow, Pink is the new fast, race, Race Recap, racing, run up, running, sand, technical skills. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.