|Almost 50 women strong at the start of the non-uci women's field!|
Photo Credit: Kent Baumgardt
So the regional series of the Midwest took a rest these past couple weekends to host some of the biggest UCI races in the country and those who normally take part in the local scene didn't disappoint on the national level either!
For me, I'm finding myself stuck in middle ground between still having a Cat 1 license, battling for Elite Master's OVCX series points, and gunning for Master's World Championships later in the year. That being said, most of you know racing in the Pro races require that I don't accidentally snag any uci points to DQ me from Worlds, yet still needing to race in a cat that has appropriate competition to keep me pushed to the limits.
Thankfully, the Cincy3 (http://cincinnaticyclocross.com/ ) races included a Elite Master's 35+ category for all the ladies in my same situation! It was a bit of a pride blow to not race in the pro races, but I AM an elite master's racer and as long as promoters present this option for us ladies, that is where I belong at this point in my comeback and career. I was pretty happy to see several of my fellow ovcx strong girls choose to race these races as well.
|Taking on the log barriers and the Shamrock heckles during day 1 of the Cincy3 weekend...|
Photo: Kent Baumgardt
So on to the races!
First off, 3 straight days of cyclocross races can test just about anyone, and I was a bit worried about how it would test myself with the myasthenia in particular (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myasthenia_gravis). Now that it is all done, I think I held up pretty well, aside from the last lap of the weekend where my body decided it had had enough. How can I complain about that?
The weekend as a whole was probably one of the best times I've ever had at a race weekend. I could go into detail about the whole atmosphere, but I think everyone who was there felt the same and I can't give enough kudos to the event promoters and all the people that made it what it was.
Friday's race got underway at one of hilliest venues for cx in Devou Park. I honestly dislike the place on that premise alone, but otherwise, it's a stunning place to spend the day on the bike. The race field for us non-pro's was packed and it was exciting to look back from my front row call-up to see a sea of 40+ female racers behind me. I knew the day would be tough for me since one of my best competitors, Gerry was there and she loves climbing. She ended up taking a early lead and never looked back (maybe she did but I never saw her). I cruised around and got second. I was pleased with that. I knew Gerry was out of my sights, but I expended very little effort to maintain the second place spot to maintain as much energy as I could for the remainder of the weekend.
|Best quote of the weekend: "yeah, you can ride sand like a dutch women." Love this stuff!|
Day 2 was held at King's very close to my host housing with Bill and Terri Meek. It was so great to have them open up their home to as many as 10 cyclist... that's a lot of pasta folks!
Saturday was the perfect storm for me. It had rained all night, was a little misty come race time, and a touch on the chilly side. Plus, the course layout was all sorts of perfect for my riding style. I took off to a early lead with a couple gals in tow. I was feeling good and strong only to bobble the bottom of a slick downhill, causing me to lay the bike down and loss some major time. I got back up, fought like heck to catch back on to the lead ladies of Gerry and Erica, and ended up in a dead sprint with Gerry for the win at the end. Of course, the ending straight was at a gradual incline, and I had spent so much energy catching back up, that I had nothing left in the tank to take on the climb at speed let alone someone who loves stuff like that. Major kudos to Gerry for a great all around race, with her and I finishing the same as the previous day: 1 & 2.
|Enjoying some good cross weather on day 2... probably thinking about how good my Monday massage is gonna feel..|
Day 3 of racing moved on to my most hated of all venues. Harbin Park. Not only is it at the end of the race weekend when a person is dead tired, it has it's share of climbing like Devou. Add to it that I was crashed here by Marne a couple years ago causing some broken ribs and the end of my race season following it that year, and I was ready to have a nice, uneventful race for a change to get Harbin off my back.
I was pretty much toasted before the gun went off, but I wanted to give everything I could. I once again had a good start and even opened up a little gap halfway through the 1st lap due in part to my love of sand pits. After making my way through that, the hills showed up and my legs didn't. I was passed by Gerry and Eric and even though I told my body to take chase, it decided enough was enough and turned the power switch off. My hands and feet went into cramps (a sign the MG is on the verge of getting really angry) and I knew I had to be the smart person and turn it down a notch to just salvage what I could with one lap to go, leaving me with a respectable 2nd place in my Master's Elite class.
|Ahh yes! A punchy hill. More my style for a change! |
Being the queen of the weekend would have been sweet, but taking three 2nd place podiums and ending up the princess isn't that bad either. My goal for the weekend was a top 3 everyday and I pulled that off, so I was thrilled with that.
|Sprint for the Win! Gerry and I have both taken a win in sprint finishes this year. She took it over me on this one. Love battling like this.|
Photo K Baumgardt
So rounding out the 5 UCI races in the area was the Derby City Cup USGP in Louisville this past weekend. USGP is always a good time and all the who's who of cx showed up this past weekend to check out a small preview of the venue that will host the Elite World Championships this year. I really had no choice but to race the Pro women's race, and it was pretty cool to see 50+ of the countries top females all lined up on race day and be a part of that while representing my Don Walker Cycles Team (www.donwalkercycles.com/) while doing it. Honestly, I disliked the course set-up to the extreme (as did other racers), although I did like several of the features they had in it, just not the way it all came together. In the end, it didn't really make a difference in the grand scheme of my life or cycling goals and I found myself not so "fired up" once race day rolled around and we took off. I didn't feel like putting the remainder of my season at risk with injury, so I sat near the back of the pack and gave a good training effort in with the big guns. I ended up somewhere... not last and no where near 1st.
Sunday I decided to get my first race of the year on the single speed going. I absolutely love racing SS in cross (and mtb) and I was excited to get out and get some time on it before racing at Nationals. I was having a bit of issues with it before the race, but thanks to my teammates (Blaine, Nate, and JC) and every respectable mechanic we could have look at it, I still was unable to stand and power up climbs with out the chain skipping, but I managed the rest of the course on it without a problem... and had a blast doing it! I even managed to chick a few guys along the way to my 17th place finish!
Now it's on to the last stretch of the season for me. The next few weeks will wrap up the massive race schedule I've been doing, the two race series I am competing in will finish up and it will be back to focusing on training well for Nationals and Master's Worlds. Thanks so much to all that cheered and encouraged me this past couple weeks, thanks to all the support from my Don Walker family, and big credit to my buddy Aaron for keeping the bikes working week in and week out!
|Can't stop, won't stop!|
Photo: Tim O Shamrock Cycles
Cycling really is a great sport to be a part of...
U (you) C (see) I (I) give it 5 out of 5 stars:)