Photo: Peter Kraiker, © studiofstop.com
Up in Canada for a weekend of UCI C1 racing. I forgot my camera - darn it! - but I'll grab some pics from the girls later. Made the drive with teammate Anna and Kaitie from ISCorp in the Planet Bike van. We got to town Friday afternoon and made it out for a ride with my friend Anne while the temps were still warm. Thanks to Anne and Malcolm (and dog Winston) for hosting the three of us. It's always so great to visit with friends while racing rather than staying in a hotel! The food is better too - thanks for cooking for us Anne :)
We were expecting a pretty flat course today from Anne and Malcolm's prerides but the several short steep climbs were definite leg busters. We prerode this morning and realized it would be a muddy day on the bike. It had rained overnight and the races earlier in the day had ripped the course up in a few spots. The two standing water mud puddles would only add to the fun.
Anna and I switched over our wheels and gave the Rhinos a try for the mud - turned out to be a good choice. There were about 25 women on the line and with lots of points and money on the line all three of us were shooting for finishes in the top 10. I got the last front row call up which left me in the perfect spot to ride right through a huge puddle off the line (cyclingnews pic). From the gun Natasha Elliott pushed the pace and I settled into about 6th place. By mid lap I had gotten around a few more riders and was sitting in third maybe 10 seconds behind the top two riders. We get to the giant muddy ditch puddle and I try to ride it and crash right into it - brr! Back up and running up the muddy hill on the other side trying to not get flustered. The other girls are coming up quick but I hold my spot and ride the rest of the lap without crashing. Here I am riding the other muddy puddle. Photo: Peter Kraiker, © studiofstop.com
I try to push as hard as I can on the flat, straight sections and conservatively ride the tight turns. I don't even try to ride the mud puddle and instead dismount and run across and up the hill. Josie J-M, Anna Milkowski, and my teammate Anne are about 15 seconds back. As the race goes on and the bike gets muddier I have a harder time powering over the short climbs. My foot pops out of my cleat and I dismount and run over the hills - hopefully not losing much time. Both Annas have fallen back a bit but Josie is not far behind me. Thanks to Malcolm for all of the encouragement and cheering! Natasha has gapped second place whom I only occasionally see and is probably 30 seconds up on me. With a lap to go I can feel Josie J-M getting closer and I push hard knowing a podium finish is within my reach. I dismount for all the little climbs - maybe 5 of them? - on the last lap as I feel like running is faster than trying to ride up them. I focus on trying to stay smooth in the corners and hammering the flats. I make it through the mud puddles with my 10 second gap and as I get onto the pavement I breathe a figurative sigh of relief and come across the line for 3rd place. Anna rode really strong for 6th and Kaitie snagged 10th for the last UCI point. Good racing by the Wisconsin girls!
I was pretty excited by making it onto the podium for this race. It was a strong field of racers and it felt good to be mixing it up near the front of the race. The exhilaration wears off quickly though and the cold feet set in! Running through the puddle made for icy toes post race and we all headed back to the van to try to de-mud the legs and warm up. We carefully organized all of the gross muddy clothes and shoes and cleaned up before heading to the podium. The rain and wind kicked in and we shivered as we waited for riders to show up for the ceremony. Anna won the U19 division of the race and Kaitie was second so they also had some podium shots. Second and fourth never showed so we went ahead with just 1,3, and 5. I asked Natasha to spray the champagne on the crowd rather than us and she got them good! Thanks to everyone associated with the race for putting on such a great event - with a great course!
After what seemed like forever we finally got our bikes sprayed down and the back of the van organized and cleaned up. Geesh - 40 minutes racing and 3 hours cleaning up! All part of the cyclocross fun! We made what we were hoping was a quick stop at Wal-Mart and we were all traumatized from the experience. The parking lot was packed and people were everywhere in the store. We were nauseous by the time we finally got out of there and were ready to make it back for a shower and some food.
Anne, being an amazing host, had dinner all prepared for us so we quickly cleaned up and scarfed down her tasty pasta. Tomorrow she has promised to pick us up some cupcakes from the local famous bakery for after the race so we're already looking forward to those! Tomorrow's course promises to be epic with a pretty ridiculous switchback climb up a ski hill, and also down the ski hill. I think running will be a necessity for several sections of the race. Will be a little colder and windier and maybe even muddier - we'll see if the rain holds off! It'll be a blast regardless!
Thanks for reading - I'll add in photos once I get some!