What draws me to cyclocross? That’s a good question. I was asked by a coach, “What is a trackie doing racing a cyclocross bike?!”, and I see his point. So, I begin to ask myself that question. I look around, and take in where I am, what I am doing, and asking…why?
We arrived in Madison via plane around 11:30 on Wednesday night. The flight was flawless, easy, and eventless. It was smooth, no lost bags, and our truck and trailer was waiting at the race course for us. We got to the hotel, in our awesome mini-vans (which, if you haven’t driven a recently manufactured mini-van, you are missing out), went to bed, and woke up the next morning in route to the course for some pre-riding.
The first day on course was smooth, fast, and did not have too much mud. But that quickly changed. We rode around and around, and as the races progressed, the course was torn up, muddy, sloppy, and we saw many crashes throughout all age groups. Each day, we stood in line for over an hour to wash our bikes, but each day, the course got muddier and muddier, while some areas were no longer ridable. I personally fell a fair amount of times. Flying around backwards is a trip!
And then race day came. On Saturday afternoon, when all the FLC women lined up at the starting line, we were an army of 8 ready to race our hearts out for our team. We weren’t silent, we were making as many animal noises as we could come up with, including monkeys, elephants, birds, and whatever else came to mind. Even though a “sky hawk” is not an actual “animal”, we make it so, using our imaginations. The whistle blew, I was second row, and I took off.
I’m good at starts. Really good at starts. But I’m also really good at going out harder than I can race. So, taking the whole-shot was not my goal, but I wanted to get out of the mess sooner rather than later. And that was about all the good that came out of that race. Seriously. The course was slick, technical, muddy, and hard. Like it should be. I was excited for this race. And then I kept making mistakes. And crashing. And dropping chains. And running into tape. And then after changing bikes twice, I impaled myself with a 1×1 wooden stake, knocked the wind out of myself, tore my skin suit (which is really the saddest part), scraped myself up a nice amount, and then continued on. After the past two years of placing 5th and 7th, the 13th place was one of the biggest disappointments. Not only did I have too many mistakes, but I was/am sick. Mud and all. It hurt. But I finished, because I was there for my team. I was there to help, to do everything I could, and that is what I did.
My teammates rode amazing races. Sarah Sturm placed 4th, Kaila Hart 8th, Lauren Catlin 9th, Brittany Clawson 10th, Me 13th, Tilly Field 15th, and Annie 18th. Courtney was in there too. And not to mention the boys, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 14th, 16th, and 22nd. The boys really pulled it through, after us ladies finishing 3rd as a team, they placed 1st, and pulled us up to tie with Marian for 1st place, but in the tie breaker, we lost, finishing 2nd as a team overall.
We walked back to the trailer with our heads held high. We all did the best we could. We had some rough luck, some really rough luck, but that’s how racing goes. We came home with silver medals, and that is something to be proud of.
Thinking back to my question. I looked around again….16 FLC riders, 5 staff members, multiple Durango masters riders, my parents, our trailer, our bikes, our tent, our little fire pit, the mud, the atmosphere, the pit, the announcers, the crazy-dressed-up-cx-racers, the beer garden, the horns, the barriers, the stairs….it’s all only found at one place. At a cross race.
Having team DD (dad and dawn) and MM (mom and mike) there was also awesome. Having a post race beer with my dad was also quite a highlight of the day :). The good thing about family is they are always excited for you no matter how awful you do. In their eyes, you are the fastest, most amazing person on the course and they could care less if the winner was over 1/2 a lap ahead of you.
So, with that, we went back to the hotel rooms, ate some dinner, went in the hot tub, relaxed, jumped on a plane this morning, and here we all are, back in Durango. We already missed the first day of the semester, so, yay! School! Again! But this time, it’s my last first day of the semester. Sub 109 days until graduation!
(Photos by me and Chad Cheeney and USA Cycling)