I wasn’t in the bottom 25%
So yes, I sort of led with the punch line, but I am pretty excited and had to share with all of you. Sunday was my second cross race of the season, Sloper Cross. For those of you who are wonding what cyclocross is or missed the recap from my first race, read this. I’ve said many times, I am a true back of the pack cat 4, and unfortunately even as the women’s fields have grown, there still are virtually no cat 4 only races for women. Most of the larger races are cat 3/4 and the smaller races are open, meaning pro to cat 4 all in the same field! Obviously this can be intimidating for beginners, especially women IMO, but that is a whole different discussion for another day.
So Sunday’s race was another stop in the CT series of cyclocross. It happened to be the same weekend as the large Verge series race up in Maine, so I wasn’t sure what the turnout would be. We ended up with 15 women in the open (pro-cat 4) race, including some pretty big names in the sport. The course was pretty short, so I knew there was no chance of not getting lapped by the leaders, making my sole goal not to come in last.
I only got a chance to preride part of the course, but I managed to “see” 99% of the course while the race before mine was in progress. I knew there were 3 sections of sand (yes 3!), which I was not too happy about, never having learned how to really ride through sand. There were some steep climbs, a wooded section, a stair run-up, but I didn’t see any barriers. I assumed I had just missed them, so this made me a little nervous, knowing that I needed to know in advance they were coming up so I could be prepared with my left foot unclipped (found out during race there were none).
According to cross results, I was supposed to virtually be tied with one girl (hammer team), just barely ahead of her in points. I quickly scoped her out on the line, knowing I had to keep her in my sites and not let her get away if I wanted a chance of not getting last. I wanted to go out hard at the beginning, but I also didn’t want to blow myself up like the week before trying to hang with the elites.
The whistle went off and I settled at the back of the pack, knowing people wouldn’t make it up the first climb and hoping I could avoid any crashes/tip overs by running around them. Unfortunately, I timed this a little wrong and ended up on the wheel of a girl who didn’t make it up. I quickly got off and ran around to get in front. The girl from hammer mounted at the top of the hill, while I did at the bottom, so she got in front of me. I quickly got on her wheel, however, and on a quick step up, she put a foot down and I made the pass.
I stayed ahead through the woods and along the beach, but she ran past me up the stairs as I tried to maintain control and not push above my threshold. I stayed on her wheel for the rest of the lap and made a move around her on a straightaway. I tried to push the pace enough to get her off my wheel, without blowing myself up. It seemed to be working until I bobbled through the sand pit and she was able to edge around me. At this point with two laps in, I decided to back off just slightly and let her push, just focused on keeping her in my sights. I knew the spot I would make my move and prepared for that.
Once I got around her, this time I went all out for 30 secs to drop her, which seemed to work as she attempted to hang before fading back. Before I knew it she was nowhere to be seen, but Liz from Mad Alchemy had now passed her and was only about 10 secs back of me. I was worried she started really slow and was going to keep moving up the field, so I tried to remain on the gas enough to keep her from gaining any more on me. We got lapped by the leader on lap 4, so I had slowed down and moved over to make sure I was out of her way well in advance. In doing this, Liz managed to get up to me and we rode in sync, with her on my wheel until the sand pit. I took the outside and she took the inside. I managed to stay in front through the first pit and the turn, but in the second pit my front wheel was everywhere and she rode cleaner through making the pass.
Now I was bummed bc I didn’t want to let her beat me, so I started trying to ride smarter. I stayed with her through the first half of a lap and when she didn’t make it through the beach section I made the move to get back in front. We battled the rest of the race, but I managed to stay in front, not letting her get around me. I tried to open a gap, but every time I did, she would close it again. I was now thinking about the finish. I knew there was a straightaway that would be perfect for a sprint finish if she tried to go around me at the finish. I decided to make sure I held back just enough, so I could battle if I needed to.
Luckily, she didn’t make an attempt to sprint past me, so I was able to cross 5-10 seconds in front. It was a great feeling. Not only had I beat the hammer girl by a significant margin (didn’t even see her the final lap…found out later it’s bc she finished 2 laps down), I managed to battle with someone during the race and win, AND I had even lapped someone on the last lap. Overall, as I told Liz after the race, it was just great to get to feel like I was actually racing for once and not just out there all alone, just waiting to see how long before I was lapped. It really got my competitive juices flowing getting to race with people similar to me, instead of just ones in categories ahead of mine.
Now after finishing I knew I had beaten at least 3 women, but how many did we have in the field? What was my place? These were all the thoughts running through my head, as I was giddy with the adrenaline from the race. It ended up we had 15 women, and I had gotten 11th (beat 3 and had 1 DNF). I did the math and realized I finished in the 73rd percentage…which means I wasn’t in the bottom 25% for the first time ever!!!
Posted on October 23, 2012, in Biking, Cyclocross, Racing, Uncategorized and tagged cross results, cyclocross, hammer, mad alchemy, Race Recap, racing, sand, sloper cross, stairs. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.