10.09.2012

10.04.2012

Cyclocross Season is in Full Swing

Ah, cyclocross. My favorite season of the year! So many races with maximum hang-out time with excellent folks. Recap of the season so far...

The weather knew 'cross season was here, and things turned blustery and a little rainy for the first race, Greenstreet Twilight CX at Swanson Park on September 12. This was my first cross race on the WMD, and I was eager to see how things would go. Especially with the addition of a couple singletrack sections and a little log jump, I was extremely happy to be on a steel bike. Feels so good going over roots and bumps. War Axe makes a fine, fine bike.
Photo: Jeremy Cook
After a strong start with the lead group of men, I ended up following a guy onto the wrong side of the tape and had to watch 2/3 of the field ride by before I could file back in. Frustrating. Fought my way back up to a 14th place finish, first for women. And on that note, we have a really strong field of 3/4 women racing in Nebraska this year, and it's super exciting.

Next up was a last-minute decision to road trip to Madison for the USGP. Between the generosity of a van seat in the Trek Sprinter van (currently starring in an episode of Behind THE Barriers) thanks to my Trek CXC buddies and the gracious host housing of teammate Emily's parents, the trip was made grad-student-affordable.

The Madison course was pretty excellent, with gnarly off-camber descents, sharp turns, and on day one, very few wide open sections. It rained a little bit, but drought-addled ground made for damp grass and nothing more. These were my first races in a 2/3 field, and with late registration, I had last-row call-ups both days. This meant trying to fight for position, find better lines around the women ahead of me, and try to move up and not get passed. I moved my way from 35th up to 21st on Saturday. Sunday, the course was opened up a bit, and I moved from 38th to 24th on a much faster course. I was feeling better Sunday, early season race jitters seemed to have subsided enough. Emily had front row starts both days, and while it took me two laps to get her on Saturday, I had her by the end of the first lap Sunday. Great racing from my teammate, a welcome beacon to chase! Photos below, all from Sunday, courtesy of Emily's dad.

Catching Emily on the run up.
Charging up the pavement section.

Winding through some trees.

Top of the run-up, bringing the bike back down.

Finishing!
The trip was great, but travel is exhausting. Took a while to catch up on sleep, not to mention homework. I took last weekend off, spending days reading and chilling at the Farmer's Market. Oh, and I was the first finisher in a Hustle in there, too...

Mid-week racing was back last night, and Sheclismo really represented, showing Nebraska cycling that cyclocross is something we're all about! We had 6 women in the 3/4 field, and Sydney was able to take a quick break from her dissertation to take home the win in the 1/2/3 race.

I had a first lap full of mishaps, and between getting squeezed between a guy who bobbled and a tree right at the holeshot, a mess of a first barrier run (the barriers weren't up during warm-up laps, so they surprised a lot of the folks in front of me), and trouble clipping in, well, I had some fire burning in me. After regaining the lead in the women's field, I tried to chase after the lead men's group, but they were on more fire than me, being led by Josh Rice.

At one point, I took a quick look back and saw that Kat, back from a year abroad in Norway and racing on a singlespeed, had made her way into second, with Emily and Sara hot on her heels. KAT IS BACK!!! She and I had an awesome roommate rivalry our first year doing 'cross, and it really got me going to see her back in the mix. John Peterson was out taking his always-excellent photos last night, and got a few of me that show just how hot it was. I mean, it was probably in the upper 70s, but it felt hot for 'cross and it was windy...

Running the barriers. Everything but the remounts felt good. Photo: John Peterson

Railing the slick corners, tripod style. Photo: John Peterson
The course, as expected, was bone dry and dusty. Cornering was an adventure, really a game of chicken with yourself. I kept it upright, thankfully, as several friends ended the race with bloody knees. My parents came out to watch the race -- I gave my dad permission to heckle me in German, which was a mistake only because it made me laugh every time I went by him -- and my mom got a great shot of me and my fellow podium teammates for the night, rehydrating right after the race.

I love my team. Strong, fun, competitive, multi-talented women. 4 languages spoken in this group alone! Photo: Jane Reinkordt
Podium! Coffee & sunglasses! Photo: Jon Curran
Thanks to the Flatwater crew for putting on a mid-week race series I can ride my bike to. I'll have to miss next week for the Homegrown Film Festival (you should come), but I'll be back on the 17th.

Next up, Fontenelle GP in Omaha on Saturday, and trying to figure out how to get to Ft. Collins for the next USGP...