The second half of cross season is well underway. After a tough weekend of racing in Fort Collins at the end of October, where tired legs and altitude made for a disappointing set of results, I took a weekend off and enjoyed some time at home. I enjoyed a rest week, some time with friends, and a weekend of fun riding with friends. Here’s a recap of the start of the second half of the season.
I started the second half of the season with 1 day of racing at HPCX, which is part of the MAC series. I won at HPCX in a slop-fest last year and was hoping to defend my title but knew I’d have tough competition that’d also be gunning for the win. Weather reports for the week promised an incoming hurricane Sandy and I hoped that we’d be racing in similar conditions to last year. However, the weather held out and we had the driest conditions at HPCX we’d had in years. Arley attacked from the whistle, taking lead immediately. I must have been asleep when the whistle blew because I got off to a slower start than normal and found myself weaving in and out of other racer , chasing right from the start. The course was super-fast and twisty-turny and I worked most of the race to close a 5-10 second gap. As we passed the pit with a little less than 2 laps to go, I could tell Arley was fading. I’d kept my head up and tried to move forward and knew I could close the gap. Just as we headed towards the finish for 1 to go, I closed the gap. I’d thought this part of the race through all week long and knew I needed to exercise patience and just sit on Arley’s wheel. I did so for a bit but decided to try and launch an attacked. I got a little gap but Arley closed it back down. I knew it’d come down to an uphill sprint now. We headed into the last turn and Arley attacked again just as we neared the pavement. I wasn’t totally expecting the attack to happen there and she opened up a gap. I shifted down and took off after her as we headed up the uphill finish. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get ahead and finished 2nd. I was bummed not to get the win but really excited to feel like I’d actually raced. This was the best my legs had felt in some time and I was stoked to start the second half of the season this way.
Cincinnati Day 1
I’ve heard great things about the 3 days of racing in Cincinatti and was stoked to make the trip this year. The first day of racing was like riding up and down a cereal bowl. I had an awesome start and was sitting in the top 4 for the first lap and feeling great. I knew I had a group of ladies chasing hard behind me and hoped I could hold my lead over them and maybe even move up and get on the podium. As we came through the start-finish, I thought I’d see 3 to go, but my heart sank when I saw 5 to go! I knew I was in trouble. Before I knew it, the ladies behind me were in front of me and went right on past. I rode the rest of the race by myself and crossed the finish in 6th – still a solid result but not nearly as finishing 4th would have been!
Cincinnati Day 2
The second day of racing was at night under the lights. We decided to head out for a spin early in the morning to loosen our legs up and noticed it was raining. Would tonight’s race be a slop-fest? It sure would! As we drove to the course, we passed other racers driving home with muddy bikes. I was stoked for such conditions but nervous not to have anyone in the pit. We searched the parking lot for some pit people, but it was so miserable that folks were hitting the road as soon as they could get their cars packed up. During course inspection, the course didn’t seem too muddy and we determined that we wouldn’t need a bike swap. Boy were we wrong! I got off to a great start and was riding well; making good choices when to run and when to ride and even rode the crazy set of hills the first two times. Unfortunately, as the race continued, my bike started to accumulate lots of mud on the tires and I began to lose traction and places in the race. Andrea Smith caught me and I told myself just to sit on her wheel. We both took a tumble headed towards the ride up/run up hills but I was able to stick with her. We were inside the final lap and I really wanted to stick her wheel. As we neared to top of the run up, I went to remount, my bike slipped right, and I slipped left ,and Andrea went ripping by me ! Darn it! I chased her for the rest of the lap but couldn’t catch back up. I finished 8th… not what I’d hoped to do in the mud.
Cincinnati Day 3
I had no idea what to expect from my body for a third day of racing. My legs were heavy and tired and I thought for sure I was doomed to have some heavy slow legs for the day. Much to my surprise, my legs felt great once the race started. I had a good start, playing it safe and settling in during the first lap before moving up into 6th place. I spent a lot of the racing fighting for 6th with Mo and Nicole. It seemed like every time I attacked and got in front of them, they’d come right back around. I’d attack on the climbs and Nicole would shred the descents and get right back in front. I’d attack on the barriers and miss a pedal when I remounted and they’d open the gap back up. I crossed the line in 8th with nothing left in the tank and totally pleased with myself for putting out 3 solid days of successful racing. I headed home feeling good about the start to the second half of the season. I have lots of racing left and am looking forward to seeing how things shape up!