After kicking off my weekend on such a high note on Saturday, I was hoping for a repeat performance on the second day of CXLA. The course on Sunday was identical to what was used the previous day; however, overnight rain that continued into the morning lead to very different course conditions.
On Saturday night, we encountered patchy sections of mud. On Sunday, there were longer sections of the course that were a deeper, thicker, muddy mess and much more slippery, too. The race organizers had spread mulch over the pump track features on Friday. This helped make things less slippery on Saturday, but on Sunday the mixture of mulch and mud had spelled disaster for many riders who had their rear derailleurs ripped right off by the muck.
We raced at 7:30pm Saturday night and then at noon on Sunday which meant there was very little recovery time between races. I stuck around after my race to watch my teammates, and by the time we got back to the hotel, it was well after 11PM. I washed out my kit and prepped for my race the next day before hitting the sack at nearly midnight. I got in as much rest and recovery as possible, but as I warmed up, I knew my legs were definitely tired. I wasn’t sure how to expect them to perform.
Sure enough, once we started, it became clear that I lacked the same spark that I had in my legs the previous night. Back pain that I’ve been dealing with on and off for the last few months also started to surface. Mostly, though, it was the legs. It’s hard to know exactly why. It could have been how hard I pushed on Saturday. It could have been that my body wasn’t ready for the back-to-back effort after all the trainer time. It could have been any combination of things. Regardless, I lacked the power, energy and strength I summoned on Saturday.
The top five on Sunday was a slightly modified version of the top five on Saturday – with Katerina Nash (Luna Chix) riding away with the win on both days. I finished fifth on Sunday, and I felt pretty disappointed about it at first. I wanted to feel good about both race days and come away from LA with two podiums.
Now slightly removed from the race weekend, I have been able to remind myself that what I accomplished, in light of what I just went through, should be a source of pride, motivation and satisfaction. It’s only my first weekend back, and I’m in a good place to work towards my larger goals. Hopefully, I just continue to go up from where I am right now.
Before saying anything else about those larger goals, I want to extend a sincere thanks to the people in my life who kept me well-poised for a strong comeback following my injury. My coach, Kurt Perham, has been with me every step of the way as my saga has unfolded. He’s pushed, motivated and helped me keep my goals in focus. He kept me focused with gentle reminders that even though trainer time wasn’t the most fun thing in the world, it was a necessary evil to getting back in top form. I credit him for giving me the workouts and encouragement that allowed me to post solid results during my first weekend back in the thick of things.
California Giant, and the team’s general manager, Anthony Gallino, reassured me that once I returned to racing, they would be there with the necessary help and support I would require to contend for a sport on the team for Worlds. This allowed me to focus on my recovery without worrying about what it would be like when I was back in action.
Fans, friends and family extended well wishes, words of encouragement and support via social media and real life. Every cheer, shout out, message and smile meant something to me. Every single one.
My goal for the last few years has been to earn selection to the Worlds team for Louisville – and to finish in the top ten on home soil against the best cyclocross racers in the world. Having sat out for two months of our five month season, I have my work cut out for me to achieve these goals; however, I still believe they’re within reach and I’ll do everything I can to make them a reality.
I have to admit that after pep talking myself into feeling good about Sunday’s race, it was disappointing to wake up today to see that I had fallen to 30th in the overall UCI rankings. I was 21st ahead of this past weekend, but the Roubaix World Cup bumped me down those nine spots.
Points matter for a variety of reasons. Mostly, points equate to starting position. Eight riders line up in each row, and the start order is determined by ranking. So, if all 29 riders ahead of me were to start a race, I would be in the fourth row. This is a huge disadvantage because I have 21 riders ahead of me before I’ve even begun.World Cups offer the most points and C1 races are next in the hierarchy with C2 races third in line.
We have one C1 race left in the US. The first day of racing in Bend at the final USGP weekend is crucial for me. Not only do I want to have a good showing against a super stacked field to prove that I’m back (and better than ever!), I also need to pick up as many points as I can.
Following Bend, I’ll head over to Europe where I’ll race two World Cups and three C1 races. I don’t expect to see any huge jumps in points after just one or two races. Instead, it will happen gradually over the next several weeks. I don’t see myself working my way up to the third or second row by the time I race the World Cups, but I’m hoping to accomplish that by the World Championships.
Ideally, I will post a top-ten finish at one of the December World Cups – which earns me an automatic selection to the Worlds team. Without the automatic berth, it comes down to coaches’ selection if all five spots haven’t been filled by riders who have earned automatic selection. At this point in the season, only Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) and Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale – Cyclocrossworld.com) have qualified automatically. So, accruing as many UCI points as possible to position myself in a good spot amongst all the Americans could potentially play in my favor should it come down to coaches’ selection.
USA Cycling is putting a lot of weight on the US National Cyclocross Championships in Madison in mid-January. It’s the only opportunity they have to see us all race in one place, at one time, against one another. If I haven’t auto-qualified for Worlds at a World Cup, Nationals will be another critical race for me in terms of coaches’ selection to the team.
I’m explaining all this in an attempt to give you an understanding of what’s at stake and where my head is at with all this currently. It’s great to be back and firing on all cylinders, but I still have a lot of work ahead of me – and a lot of factors to take into consideration as I choose a schedule to best support my goals. Like always, I’m fully committed to making this happened – especially with your continued support. Keep those cheers coming!!