Monday, October 19, 2009

Ohio UCI weekend

The Elite Women's Field in the rain before the start of day 1.

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....

I spent a LOT of time doing this during Friday's race.

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!!!

Riding the sand; I loved this part!!!

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!!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

GA Cross #1

After attending two of the Georgia Cross events last season I decided that was the regional series I was going to chase this year. They have great courses, good size fields for the women, and guaranteed payout that is very respectable. The series is 8 races plus a make-up race and I will be able to attend 7 of them so I figured I have a shot at the series podium. My time this fall is now officially booked. 4 UCI cross weekends, 7 Georgia Cross weekends, and Cross Nationals. I am "booked solid" until Christmas. FUN. The marathon started the first weekend of October.

Star, Mark and I got up at the crack of dawn Sunday morning to head to Macon. We arrived with plenty of time to get registered, warm-up and pre-ride. They had made full use of the beach at the park with not one but TWO sections of sand. I hate sand. I mostly just hate running in sand and then having my shoes full of it. Oh well, suck it up Kym, this is cross.

We had a good size women's field and I was a bit nervous. I didn't know all the girls there and I wasn't sure what to expect after a long week of travel and racing the week before. Star's race was the race before mine so I got to cheer for her as I warmed up on the trainer. She did GREAT!!! Star fought hard at the front of the field for the entire race... her and two other girls were in a heated battle. It was very exciting to watch. She eventually finished third. Great job Star.

Wow, there are women here racing!!! In TN, most of our women's fields were small so it was refreshing to line up in a good size, competitive field. I lined up and decided that I wanted the hole shot. Okay, let's hope for the best. I took it and never looked back. The Category 3 men started 1 minute ahead of us and I rode through most of their field as well. It was a great race. I won by a huge margin and finally feel as if my "cross legs" are coming back.

Thanks to the Georgia Cross series... you guys do an amazing job. I can't wait for the next one.

Next is the 3 day Ohio UCI weekend. Yikes. Talk about big fields and strong women. Looks like I'm racing with the "big girls" again next weekend.

Cross season starts with BANG!!!

So after a short break cross season has begun. And it started off with a BIG one. This year my season started with the opening round of the US Gran Prix in my home state of WI. Nothing like trial by fire:

"Okay so you haven't raced cross since last year, so let's pick the BIGGEST series in the US and start there.... good plan Kym." Bad Idea Jeans??? Maybe.

It was going to be really fun seeing the family and getting back on the most FAVORITE of all my bikes (Thanks Specialized.... LOVE the S-Works Tricross!!!!), but I was pretty sure that it was going to hurt really badly.

Yep. I was right about that!!!!

Mark and I made the drive to my parent's house (which was 40 miles from the race... convenient) and we were as ready as we were going to be. After a pre-ride where we JUST missed the rain, we got a good night's sleep and were ready to go.

Saturday morning was dryish (it rained some the night before but other than some threatening clouds, it was okay) and we hit the road early to get a good spot. We were the THIRD car there. Thanks Mark. I decided that I was going to race the Master's Women's race in the morning to get my legs under me and then do the Elite race in the afternoon. I wasn't really sure if that was a good idea, but if not I could always opt to NOT race the early race on Sunday if it was too much.

My Master's race rocked. I took the hole shot and never looked back. I won. Cross season is off to a good start. Somehow, I think my day is about to get harder. Yep.

The Elite race was FAST. Not that I was surprised, but holy crap!!! All the big girls were there and we had a field of 34 of the best women in the country (and world). I struggled almost immediately, I was feeling the earlier race. I pushed myself hard and crossed the finish line in 14th place!!! Go me. That was a great ride for the first race of the year. I was also COMPLETELY exhausted.

So after day 1 I decided a few things:

1. Two races in one day is not a good idea.
2. I am stronger than last year and I need to ride like it.
3. This sport is still AWESOME.
4. This sport is still REALLY hard.
5. My bike ROCKS!!!

Sunday I slept in a bit and arrived in time to cheer for Mark's start. He had a better ride and finished 6th. He then decided to try the "two races in one day thing". It went as well as mine did but it was fun. His first race was the important one so it was just bonus training time.

I had a killer start. I found a great wheel and stuck to it. I gave it everything I had and I stayed strong the whole race. I took 12th!!!! I was as high up as 10th at one point and I think that I can ride there once I get my legs under me. Whew. What a great weekend.

A HUGE thanks also to my family. I could not have made it this far without all of you. I had the best cheering section out there and my own personal photographer. I'll get pictures up when I get the disc from Dad. I felt like a rock star all weekend!!!