After a pair of third places in Louisville last weekend, I had hoped to open the first day of racing in Iowa City with a jump up the podium. Instead, I claimed the final step – again – as Katerina Nash (Luna Chix) took the win at JingleCross ahead of Amanda Miller (Team TIBCO). My legs felt strong, and I didn’t make many mistakes. Katerina and Amanda were simply stronger on Mt. Krumpit tonight.
The course tonight was more or less the same as what it’s been the last few times I’ve raced here. The biggest feature of tonight’s course was the steep hill called Mt. Krumpit. The climb began with three railroad ties at the base of the hill, which made riding the hill more difficult. Of the people in front of me, only Amanda was able to ride it each lap. Although Katerina ran, she ran fast. Simply put, she outran me. Amanda was able to keep pace with Katerina because she stayed on her bike. I’d lose time on both of them each time up Mt. Krumpit and would battle my way back into contention later in the lap.
A fast descent followed Mt. Krumpit. Held on the county fairgrounds, the course included a few other fun features. We rode through a couple barns and one of the sandpits was even in a barn. Beyond that, most of the lap was on flat grass, and while the course was twisty, it wasn’t what I would call flowy. Mt. Krupit shattered the field, and the other features did a decent job of allowing those who gained gaps to keep them.
I felt like I had a good race. Amanda took the early lead, and I came around her fairly quickly. Before we hit Mt. Krumpit for the first time, Katerina, Amanda and I were joined by Nicole Duke (Marin/Spy) and Courtney McFadden (Bicycle Bluebrook) in a five rider lead group. The group split over the hill with Katerina and Amanda slipping away from the rest of us.
Three times Katerina and Amanda distanced me on Mt. Krumpit. Three times I clawed my way back to them. On the fourth lap, they stretched the rubber band a bit too far, and I couldn’t close the gap. That’s when I knew I was racing for third.
It’s always fun racing under the lights. Sometimes, it can feel a little dicey because the entire course isn’t lit well, but after the first couple laps, I learned what line I wanted to take and where there were obstacles I needed to avoid. The next two days of racing are daytime racing – and there’s lots of rain in the forecast. We don’t know what to expect beyond conditions completely different from what we encountered today.
I want to give massive props to John Meehan and all he’s done with this race series. The first time I raced here, riders were changing in cars and teams had pop up tents (at best). This race has grown to include an expo area with team trucks, big tents and lots of features for the fans that turn out in full force to watch a strong, deep field contest one of the premiere race weekends in the Midwest.
Based on the weather forecast during the week, we were expecting a muddy race in Iowa City today for the second day of JingleCross. We woke up to a grey sky but things looked dry. It hadn’t rained overnight or if it had, the ground was no longer wet. The course was dry when we arrived about three hours before our race start.
The biggest changes to the course today included a long uphill drag all the way to top of Mt. Krumpit. From there, we switched backed our way down an off camber descent. I noticed during the pre-ride that there were a few sections of the course that were slick from moisture. It wasn’t muddy just greasy from the a large number of people choosing the same line over and over all morning long.
It had rained on/off during the few hours before our race but never for more than a minute or two at a time. The conditions lent themselves to dry tires. As we were prepared to stage, heavy, sideways rain began to small. This time, the rain lasted for about 15 minutes – long enough that everyone quickly scrambled to swap dry tries for mud tires.
Given the last minute rain and the scramble ahead of the start, I wasn’t sure what the first lap would look like but I braced myself for chaos. Luckily, it wasn’t too bad. The race split up fairly early, and although the course had gotten more slick as it had gotten saturated, it wasn’t as gnarly was I would have expected.
There’s not much for me to say about my race today. No point in giving you the play-by-play. After good legs yesterday, I had bag legs today. I was empty. I couldn’t dig deep. There was just nothing I could do.
The climb really took a lot of me. Usually anything that requires a large power output is my cup of tea. Not today. I had no way to use my power to my advantage because I had no power to use.
I can’t even say that I suffered today. I couldn’t go hard enough to suffer! I felt like I was just out there riding around in circles. My legs weren’t capable of anything more. I ended the race in fifth place. Katerina Nash (Luna Chix) took back-to-back wins ahead of her teammate Catherine Pendral and my teammate Elle Anderson. Amanda Miller (Team TIBCO) was best of the rest about 30 seconds ahead of me.
It’s impossible to say why my good legs turned into bad legs overnight. These things just happen sometimes. Who knows why I struggled? Let’s just hope bad legs turn into good legs before the big C1 race tomorrow that closes out the weekend.
Although the severe storm we anticipated on Sunday never materialized, it was wet outside when woke. Wind had replaced the overnight rain by the time we arrived at the course. A squall blew through a handful of times without causing a true change in weather. The only weather feature that was inconsistent was the temperature. It would get cold and warm-up and get cold all over again
We expected mud following the overnight rain. The course was more slick and greasy than thick and sloppy. It wasn’t the kind of mud that required constant bike changes.
The course had changed from the previous two days. The Mt. Krumpit run-up from Friday night had returned but rather than stopping after the run-up and sending us back downhill, we had to hop on our bikes and continue to ride to the top before descending again. The descent on Sunday was a combination of a few new trails that we had used during the races on Friday and Saturday.
The run-p wasn’t technically tricky, but it was slick, so it required full concentration – and it was hard! It took a lot of energy to run and then hop back on the bike and continue to pedal uphill. The descent was also slick. I suspect it was a place where the more technically savvy riders could make big gains.
The only other new section that they added was a steep run-up/ride-up around the mid-point of the lap. I think nearly everyone ran it on the first lap. I ran it the first two times up, but the last two laps, it was tacky enough that I could ride it.
Everything else was flat. There were several section where power riders could shine and lots of twists and turns. These parts were similar to what we saw during the first two days.
I had a little incident at the start. I always stage with my right foot in the pedal. When the whistle blew on Sunday, I somehow managed to pull my foot out of the pedal, which meant I was completely unclipped. The entire field came blowing past me.
Luckily, the starting straight was wide open and long. This gave me time to move, but because I was far back, I had a lot of ground to gain. I started in the middle of the front line, so riders were swarming past me. It took a long time for me to find a gap I could use to being to pass riders.
By the time we hit the run-up, I was maybe seventh or eighth wheel. I would never get any closer to the front than that. Things separated fairly quickly with Katerina Nash (Luna Chix) opening up a gap when Amanda Miller (Team TIBCO) and Crystal Anthony (Optum) got tangled up in her wake as they run up the steep scramble. By that point, I was pretty much hanging on for dear life.
I thought I had bad legs on Saturday. If those were bad legs, I had no legs on Sunday. I felt like I had absolutely nothing. I actually considered dropping out at one point. That was how bad I felt. I was just doing everything I could to finish the race.
I couldn’t stay with anyone. There was no point in challenging myself to catch the rider in front of me. I had no energy reserve from which to draw. It took everything I had to complete the four laps to cross the line in eighth place. I was lucky to finish in the top ten but extremely disappointed with my result compared to my usual standards.
Despite results that were less than desired, I always enjoy racing at Jingle Cross. It’s a fantastic race weekend – major growth over the last few years, killer courses, excited fans, strong fields.
I’m back in Boulder as of yesterday and am looking forward to a full week off the bike followed by a full week of training. Having raced every weekend since Fort Ord (the weekend ahead of CrossVegas), I haven’t had a solid block of training since before the ‘cross season started. Hopefully the rest followed by the serious training effort is just what the legs need!