2013 Cyclocross National Championships: A Twin Dream Come True
I began this year’s cyclocross season with the goal of winning two national championships, and mother nature did everything possible to try to derail me, giving me a lesson in patience and perseverance. It started with a bad ankle sprain just before the start of cross season, then continued all season long with illness, mechanical issues, fatigue, and even a hornet sting on my sprained ankle! Somehow, I found a way to race through it all.
I used each new challenge as an opportunity to practice worst-case race scenarios for Nationals and Master Worlds. Or that’s what I told myself when they were happening anyway, so I could stay motivated to finish.
At Nationals, my perseverance paid off, with everything going to plan, and no unwanted surprises. The race plan was basically the same for both the National Championship Single Speed and Master 30-34 races: Smooth start, take the hole shot, make top 3 selection by the first hill, actually ride the first hill, then race the second half of the race faster than the first half. To have it all go perfectly was beyond expectations, especially after the difficult season I had endured.
The course conditions in Wisconsin were surprisingly Seattle; “warm” 38-40+ degrees with mud on permafrost/ice for both of my races. “Bike-skating,” my favorite! Plus, I almost felt right at home in Wisconsin because nearly one-fourth of the women’s Single Speed field were from the Northwest!
I executed my start perfectly, clipping in smoothly and taking the hole shot. A rider passed me to take the lead just before the first turn, but I could tell from her bike handling that she was already at her limit, and I made my move back into the lead just as we began the critical first hill, riding up it while she ran. I pressed the false-flat after the hill to open a gap on the field, then spent the rest of the race keeping my pedaling dialed and keeping the control of the bike on the icy course. I stayed true to my goal of racing the second half faster by monitoring lap times. That kept the remainder of the race challenging, as I was constantly on the lookout for the best lines and ways to gain speed.
For the Master’s 30-34 age group race, which featured muddier course conditions and mucky derailleurs, I utilized Team Redline pit support every half lap. This race featured the largest field of all the women masters races, with 24 riders, so I knew I would need a perfect start.
Thankfully, my Giro Code mountain bike shoes instantly connected with my pedals as I sped off the start line straight, tied for the hole shot, and patiently rode second wheel into the first pivotal hill. Once again, while the racer beside me ran, I rode the hill, passing her and riding into the lead. I rode hard to open a gap on the false flat, and the two of us traded the lead several times for the next half lap before being passed going into the course’s second hill by the current Masters 30-34 World Champion. Luck was with me this time though (well, that and good planning), when just as we crested the hill, she had a mechanical and I rode by. I was instantly glad I had already exchanged bikes with the awesome Team Redline pit crew. In spite of the muddy, greasy, icy course conditions, I worked to increase my lead to over 15 seconds and made each lap faster.
The course seemed to demand more finesse than fitness, but the tricky “bike-skating” also required a lot of physical strength in maintaining control. I was taking more risks on the last lap to go faster until I took out a course marker with a quarter lap to go. With second place in sight behind me, I decided to play it safe and just get to the finish line first. After twice before losing this championship in the last half of the race, finally crossing the line first–winning it–was emotional.
It’s a dream come true to have earned two National Championships titles this past week. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for everyone who has helped support and challenge me this season.
While only one person gets to stand on the podium, it is the support and efforts of many that get you there. I am especially grateful to Team Redline for fast bikes and the opportunity and honor to represent their brand; the Team Redline cross sponsors Giro, FSA, Challenge Tires and Honey Stinger Nutrition, who helped further my ability to fly on the bike in both races and all season; and Corpore Sano Physical Therapy for keeping me in motion and racing while recovering from ankle and shoulder strains! And, most importantly, the amazing support from my husband, cross community, friends and family. Thank you everyone.