Following mountain bike nationals in July, I took a quick vacation to NC to do some biking and hiking and when I got back to State College is was all cross all the time. Lots of work had to be done to develop some high intensity race efforts. I forget how comfortable mountain biking can be sometimes compared to cyclocross- maybe I should be riding harder in the woods!
My first cross race was Nittany Cross, a big UCI race in Trexlertown, PA. This race is always pretty tough, if it’s dry it feels like a stupid fast very twisty crit (you end up eating lots of dirt!). Day 1 was a flop for me L It was over 90 degrees and 90% humidity and honestly I just felt like I was melting. I had an OK start (not quite aggressive enough) but quickly fell to mid-pack, unable to lay down any power in the heat. I ended up pulling out of the race. In those conditions I couldn’t bring myself to finish when I was sitting in 30th. Everyone was suffering that day, my hat was off to the ladies who finished! Day 2 was slightly better. Still hot but I was able to race the entire time. An early crash knocked me to the back of the field and I didn’t quite have the power to ride forward through the traffic. I ended the day ended in 29th, not horrible given the caliber of riders that showed up for day 2 but definitely not my best showing.
Next up was Rivertown Cross down in Lancaster PA. I was all set to race the womens Pro,1,2 race as well as the Mens 3,4 race for some extra practice. The race promoter was kind and signed me up for the Men’s race for free! I let the other ladies in my race set the pace at the start and within the first 2 minutes I felt awesome. I rode to the front and immediately gained a decent gap. I ripped a turn toward the end of lap one and the next thing I knew my rear tire was flat. Not pit bike or spare wheels meant I was done. About 4 other ladies flatted on the first lap as well, at least it wasn’t just me. I was pretty bummed given my good start and how great I was feeling. I fixed my flat and then jumped in the mens 3,4 race. I was hanging in the back of the big field and had ANOTHER mechanical. This was my fault though- I didn’t put my rear wheel on tight enough and it popped out going over some roots at speed. I tightened it back down and finished the race. It’s tough racing by yourself especially when you catch the men at the back and they decide that’s a good time to quit the race instead of racing with you. Oh well, it was great training and very long!
My most recent trip was to Baltimore for Charm City Cross. This is another big UCI race in our region and it was the 10th anniversary of the Charm City race. This is always one of the best races that I attend each year. The venue, course and race promoters are really top notch. On Day 1 I had a great start and was in 12th! I was feeling strong until lap 3, when I collided with several women on one of the run ups. I smacked my knee on my pedal and then progressively when backwards the rest of the day. Ooof, not enough adrenaline to ignore that darn knee pain! I ended up 27th for the day. Day 2 started off a little slower. There were four crashes in the first minute of the race, yikes! Lots of dodging ladies and bikes. This situation ended up working to my advantage though. I spent the whole race picking riders off and slowing moving up through the field. I felt strong all day and while everyone else got slower throughout the race I felt like I was maintaining or getting faster! I ended up 16th on the day, by my final lap I could see the group (11th-15th), I needed another lap to try and make contact! Overall I was pretty please with this weekend of racing, my legs really started to come alive.
I’ve been pretty bogged down with school recently. I’m in my final year of my Ph.D. and the time crunch is really on to finish by this Spring/Summer. I was getting pretty stressed out trying to fit training in each day, traveling on the weekends for racing and still getting my work done. I have decided my best course of action is to put on the brakes for this fall. I’ve got to focus on school so I can get a job sooner than later before I jump back into such serious racing. This really bums me out considering I was just starting to feel good racing cross. Sometimes life has to come before bikes though L I’ll still be riding and hopefully doing some local charity rides this fall. Look for me this spring when the 2015 mountain bike season kicks off with my training for the Transylvania Mountain Bike Epic!