Today was brutal.
When I was warming up on the trainer today, I realized that I didn’t have the legs that rode me onto the podium yesterday, so I kept the warm-up pretty mellow. Big efforts needed to be saved for the race. I only did one lap ahead of my race, and that one lap was enough to know that the mudfest would make today’s race a completely different kind of challenge than yesterday.
Despite the bad legs, I nearly took the hole shot again today. I guess it depends on where exactly you consider the hole shot to be located. The race starts uphill, and I crested the top of the starting climb first. Nicole Duke (Raleigh-Clemente) and Helen Wyman (Kona) come around me over the top of the hill, so I was somewhere between first and third off the line.
My first encounter with the muddy stuff that followed the climb didn’t go so well, and rider after rider overtook me through the sloppy, technical section. I would later pass back many of the women who passed me on the first lap but never cracked the top-five.
(photo credit: Iri Greco)
If I had to sum up the race succinctly, I’d say that the first lap involved me losing ground. I used the second lap to pass back those who had initially gotten in front of me because I was able to gut it out a little more after my slow start. Lap three saw riders, myself included, shutting down and opening up gaps with little movement in terms of position.
On the final lap Gabby Day (Rapha Focus) reeled in Nicole Duke, who had been riding alone in second place behind Helen since the start of lap one. Julie Krasniak (Rapha Focus) rode strong today, but she crashed over the barriers. In the time it took her to get back up, Gabby and Mo Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill) passed her. Julie wasn’t able to make up ground on them again. I was close enough to the riders in front of me to see some of this unfolding but they remained just outside my reach in terms of bridging across to them.
The riders ahead of me had each other to use to their advantage. At the start of lap three, Gabby, Julie and Mo were probably only 10-15 seconds in front of me. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is in ‘cross. Over the course of that last lap, the gap started to grow because they could use each other as rabbits. I didn’t have a rabbit close enough to motivate me in the same way until I saw Wendy Sims (Frontrunners) coming up on me from behind.
Through the tricky off-camber section I mentioned in yesterday’s report, I slid out. I lost a few seconds, and I was scared Wendy would catch me. Once I hit the pavement section, I started to sprint, and I saw she sat up before I crossed the line to finish in sixth place.
Our laps today were super long – more than 12-minutes – so they cut our race short. If we had done a fourth lap, we would have been way over the UCI regulation time of 40 minutes. I can’t say I was too disappointed not to get in the full 40 minutes of racing with how much I was hurting out there.
Major props to Helen for the double victory and Gabby for back-to-back second places. Nicole rounded out the podium. Mo and Julie slotted into fourth and fifth ahead of me. Today became about who could finesse through the muck the best and make the fewest mistakes (because everyone would most likely make one or two somewhere). Generally, I don’t excel in the sloppiest conditions, but today wasn’t that, I just didn’t have the overall mixture of power and skill to make it onto the podium.
In the past, bad legs would have been something that would stress me out – before and during the race. Maybe because yesterday was such a good day and the more important of the two days being the C1 race, I was able to be quite a bit more relaxed about today than usual. I want to be on the podium all the time, of course, but the big goal this weekend was to get on the podium yesterday. Having achieved that took a little bit of pressure off me today.
Now, I’ll spend the week in Providence gearing up for the Providence Cyclocross Festival next weekend. While I’m totally satisfied with one podium in Gloucester, I’m gunning for two times podium next weekend. Who will be out to cheer me on?