Last year was my first real cross season. I've raced cross for a few years but last year I really started to see what I could do. In 2008 the Ohio UCI weekend was my first experience racing with the "big girls" and although I held my own, I was not competitive with the front of the race. That was a great first step and one that I was very proud of. This year, I wanted to step it up. I am ready to be a factor in these races. I want to be competing for the money and UCI points. After a year of training and trial and error, we were about to find out if I was ready. With that being said, we packed up and headed north for Ohio.
Is that a race course or a Slip-n-Slide??
Rain. It started raining on Monday and didn't stop. Ohio was wet. They got 2 inches the night before the race. Friday was going to be a mess. My poor bike....
Friday morning I made one of the smartest decisions I've made in a long time. I rode the course before the first race so I could see it before it got too muddy. The race was on a golf course. It was soggy and everything was off camber. After about two laps of the first race, it was going to be a muddy mess. Everyone was soaking wet, covered in mud and the course was completely torn up after the first 10 minutes of racing. Wow. Only 4 more races before I get to race.
We lined up in a drizzle with a feeling of impending doom washing over us. It was very apparent that this was going to be one HARD race. Even Katie and Sue were talking about how bad it was. They said "go" and it was crazy. The first wreck of the day was Katie Compton being taken out by Sue. They got moving again and there was a pile up right in front of me. I managed to get around it and after about 2/3 of a lap found myself in third!!! Holy CRAP. I could see the front of the race. At a UCI race. This is pretty awesome. Okay, so I went out a little too hard and didn't hold third but I did hold on to 7th and rode a killer race. Top 10. That is definitely where I wanted to be. The poor golf course will never be the same. Of course they might find shoes, bikes or even a stray racer once things dry out a bit...
Thank goodness for a sunny Saturday!!!
Saturday I woke up to sunny skies. After the horrendous mud from the day before it was much needed. I felt like I had gotten run over by a truck. Wow, Friday's race took it's toll on me. I was bruised and sore. And now it was time to get ready to do it all over again. My motivation was a little lacking but cross is always fun; I knew once I got out there I would be ready to go. This course was the hardest of the weekend for me. I'm not sure if it was the tired legs or the course but I really struggled. The course was a little slick but mostly tacky and fast. I pushed myself really hard and although I never felt great, I still finished 9th. It is pretty cool to not feel like you are riding at your best and still take top 10 at a UCI event. I also had some extra motivation, Scott Wagner, a good friend and team sponsor, stopped by with Tyson (his dog) to cheer for me. Thanks Scott!!!
Sunday was my favorite course of the weekend. It has long climbs and a "fun" sand pit. I like sand when it is rideable. We had the biggest field of the weekend (yikes, fresh legs to race against on day 3!!!) and I had a killer start. I was on Sue's wheel and it was a good one to be on. I never fell out of the top 10 and rode strong to finish 9th. It was a good end to a really great weekend. Oh, and it was my 6th wedding anniversary. I love that Mark understands me enough to "get" that it is okay to celebrate with racing.
I am finally getting there. After YEARS of hard work and struggling, I am starting to be really competitive in the big races. It is a great feeling. Thanks to everyone who has believed in me over the years; the sponsors, my friends and especially my family. And most of all to my husband.
And a big CONGRATS to Mark for winning all three of his races!!!