Last weekend all the fast people showed up for the first C1 weekend of CX racing in Rochester, NY. There were a few changes to the course, which caused it to be punchier and less like last year’s dirt crit. More technical characteristics broke up the monotony of pedaling and simply making turns. This year dusty off cambers, tight woods sections, and options to run or ride really mixed up the dynamic. Being the first C1 of the season there was a certain atmosphere, a little different then the opening weekend of racing in Roanoke, and tension on the start line. This then resonated throughout the first couple laps of the race in the shape of people diving inside on corners, taking unnecessary risks, and general chaos. I was not quite ready for the intensity that occurred. It seemed unnecessary, but I guess I should have conformed and just sent it, with no regard for a less risky code of racing. My unaggressive racing style led to me giving up crucial spots early in the race and by the time I was battling back the gaps were too big and the task at hand was too big to take on alone. I finished up Saturday’s race 20th, a few spots behind my goal of top 15 for the first big race of the season, with a new focus for Sunday.
There were only a few changes to the course, so it was basically the same. After the start whistle was blown, I tried mercilessly to focus on being more aggressive, but again I assumed the position of being everyone’s ragdoll. Alas, I found myself further back than I would have liked to be. However, I did manage to move up more in the second half of the race though I still ended up in the same position as Saturday. Tomato (toe-mate-o) tomato (toe-motto). These early season races are good for not just gauging fitness but also showing the chinks in your armor and dusting off that CX racing skillset.
After the weekend we headed to Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, a teeny tiny town where Kerry is from. It was nice to spend the week at his house hanging out, riding, visiting his grandparents and relaxing. I had time to bake oatmeal, chocolate chip, butterscotch cookies and pumpkin cream cheese cookies (pumpkin season never comes too soon for me).
The week came to an end, and it was time to race again, only 45 minutes from Kerry’s house in Allentown, PA. The Nittany Lion Cyclocross weekend consisted of two C2 races. With not all of the fast people attending this race, due to its timing right before the two North American World Cups, I was able to get a front row call up both days.
Saturday the course was a little damp but not muddy except for one mud pit which my medium length Horsteng spikes were perfect for sprinting by other people who were slipping and sliding around in the mud! Unfortunately, the mud was contained in this one little section and the rest of the course was tacky with a lot of turns. I had a good start on Saturday and made it up to the front group of 3. However, a little gap opened up and I painfully dangled for the rest of the race, finishing 5th. I was extremely happy to have been near the podium for a significant amount of time, now I just need to stay there until the finish, which is easier said than done!
After the race, we headed to Kerry’s aunt’s house nearby because she was having a get together/birthday party for me! Several of our friends that live in Pennsylvania and some that came up from North Carolina for the race were able to come hangout and eat cake as well.
On Sunday I was ready to race again with goals of staying in the lead group. The course ran backwards from Saturday, was drier and it was hotter out, neither of these things I particularly enjoy. I had a good start but didn’t feel quite as good as spry. The field stayed together for much longer and I was on the back of about a 9 person group. The gaps formed and I was not towards the front to be in the mix. I passed a few people and ended up 7th. I still need to work on being more aggressive and moving up faster before gaps form. All said and done, I feel like it was a successful weekend but I know I can do better and now understand what I need to improve upon.
Tuesday, I head home to North Carolina to train for a week. Then I fly out to Iowa for Jingle Cross. Unfortunately, I did not get selected for the World Cup but I am looking forward to racing the C2 and C1 and being a spectator for the World Cup. With the whole team attending Jingle Cross I can’t wait to see everyone again!