Rolling Thunder Cyclocross Race November 3rd

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lisa Curry Reporting - USGP 7 & 8

Day 1 - The course had been slick and muddy for the late-morning races, but had become quite tacky by the time we rolled out. The course began with a long paved straightaway that funneled into a corner followed by some gooey, thick-mud corners. I got a pretty good start and entered the first corner in the top 10, but was stopped and forced to dismount and run through the mud after someone just ahead of me slid out. I recovered quickly and jumped on Kelly Emmet's wheel, which enabled me to advance a few places on the long straight stretches that followed. Kelly eventually dropped me and disappeared. I was able to hold my position, maybe 12th or so for the remainder of lap 1 but was passed by a group on the long, paved start straightaway. In hind-sight, it is clear to me that I was being complacent and lazy. As the group passed I considered trying to jump on the last wheel, but convinced myself that I could catch them on the twisty, technical sections. Yep, that was definitely lazy and didn't work at all. I rode the next 2 laps alone and I passed a couple people on the twisty, technical, FUN section of the course. On one of these laps I ran the barriers with Coryn Rivera, who is a tiny little road racer. As we were running, I heard the announcer draw the crowd's attention to the short 5'2" racers on this section, which he assumed to be more difficult for us short people...oh, the things that get you recognition when you're pack-fodder.With one lap to go, Kristi Berg caught and passed me. I jumped on her wheel and she was making quick progress in the chase to the next 2 riders. After catching and passing one of the riders, I passed Kristi on a corner and agreed to take a pull. I think I put a little gap on her on the run-up and rode the rest of the race alone trying hard to catch the next rabbit. I came close but she still had a couple bike lengths at the start of the sprint and I couldn't get around her. I finished 15th, just in the money, which was totally unexpected and sweet. I think this was my best race performance of the season, not because of my placement but because I rode well, raced hard and felt like I was able to put everything together.

Day 2 - The conditions had changed considerably overnight and the course layout was slightly different. The mud had dried out in most places, the cornering grip was much better, and the course had more technical sections in the motocross park. I got a pretty good start again, but my spastic riding on lap one resulted in me dropping into DFL mid-way through the lap. I caught my wheel with someone on the first run-up and lost a few places, did it again on the second short run-up losing more places, then I collided with someone and ended up tangling my bars in the course tape and falling over. And.....there goes the field, CRAP! I was totally annoyed with myself for creating my own chaos and was on a mission to move through the field. I remounted and charged forward passing whenever I could. Although I started the race riding like an uncoordinated trail-plug, I feel really good about how I rode the remaining 4.5 laps. I caught and passed more than 10 people and enjoyed the race entirely. I never wanted to quit or asked myself why on earth I subject myself to such misery. I was just stoked to be racing my bike on a super fun course and to be moving up. The highlight of this race was definitely passing people in tight corners, especially since I lost a bunch of places in the corners at Starcrossed earlier this season. It is really rewarding to be able to easily recognize improvement with a particular component of racing. I've learned that cross racing in big fields is not just about fitness and snap, but is also about handling your bike, handling yourself around other riders, and being aggressive.

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