Boulder Orthopedics Cycling at Masters Cyclocross World Championships
It was my first shot at UCI competition and it proved a wild ride, but I managed to stay upright (mostly) and finished top ten in a competitive field.
A wide open start allowed the women’s field to quickly hit high gear. I snagged a good position coming out of the starting straight and into the first sweeping left turn from pavement to grass. Tape-to-tape ruts, all frozen solid and some ice-filled, greeted us as we made our way around the approximately 3 km course. The course featured two sand pits, barriers, a fly-over, a railroad tie-stepped run-up and ample flat and curvy sections rendered technical due to the frozen, rutted conditions.
I struggled to maintain a balance between speed and bike control throughout the race, crashing hard on several occasions. I lost distance to the leaders when Lynne Bissette rocketed off the front in the first lap.
Riders slipped and slid across the course with one woman taking a superman-style digger right next to me while her bike flew up and over my head. We often tried riding close to the tape to avoid the deepest ruts. Crashes through course tape and poles happened unexpectedly and often. I went through the tape several times – once near the wheel pit on my second lap almost taking out a guy carrying extra wheels.
The sand pits proved well rutted but rideable because of the hard freeze. A solid sheet of ice just before the second sand pit made for a tricky line, though, by the second lap I took it comfortably. The run-ups, muddy and pock marked by dozens of cycling cleats, were frozen solid. On my first lap, bike shouldered, I slipped several times on the run-up but still managed to pass a few ladies on the remount with a good outside line.
I then played cat-and-mouse with another rider who stuck on her bike well, barely putting a toe down on the course. I would catch her, pass her, then crash and need to start chasing all over again. Realizing this a fruitless strategy, I ratcheted down my speed and upped my technique, often “tacking” back and forth across rutted sections to avoid getting sucked into something unrideable. It was a bone jarring but effective strategy. For the last two laps I focused on staying smooth and slowly working my way past other riders. I caught my “mouse”, passed her smoothly one last time and powered on to finish in eighth place for my first world championship race.