8 February 2009  |  Race Reports

2009 ‘Cross Worlds: Race Report

Well, the ‘cross season is finally over, I graduated from my culinary program, and MTB season is just around the corner. The last couple of weeks have been pretty crazy, but I am finally starting to get caught up, so here’s the race report:

Waldek and I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany on Thursday morning and drove to Antwerp where we would be staying. Antwerp is a really cool city, right on a river with lots of great restaurants and scenic squares to walk around (even though Waldek said it reminded him of the eastern block, I think he had fun too- especially once we found a Thai restaurant). We went for a short jog, just to stretch out the legs, then went to the Team USA hotel to pick up race clothing and meet with the USAcycling staff.

The next day we slept in a little and then headed to the course. It was about 1pm on Friday when I got out for my first pre-ride laps, and I was impressed with how many people were out watching- the pre-ride. There wasn’t any racing on Friday, and there were tons of spectators out on the course. The course was tough- there was a long paved section, some fast flat stuff on grass, a few chicanes and a couple of short steep ups and downs. There were some areas with sandier soil, but most of the turns on dirt and some of the ups and downs were pretty greasy, and it was tough to carry much speed around them. It seemed like it was getting softer and slimier the more I rode. I decided since our race was in the morning, it would be a good idea to pre-ride in the morning on Saturday, to see if the course would be more frozen- that way I would have a good idea what to expect no matter what the temperature on Sunday.

I got up early on Saturday, to get my training in before the Junior race. Sure enough, the course was totally frozen Saturday morning and seemed to be way faster. I rode a few laps hard to make sure I got good and opened-up for the race, and I was excited. I was feeling good, was confident about the training I had gotten in while I was at home and was optimistic about my chances of winning a medal.

Race day rolled around and I was nervous, but also thrilled to be at my first ‘cross worlds. It was pretty cold, and the course was still frozen and fast. I rode a lap before starting my warm-up just to make sure nothing had changed, then I got on the trainer and warmed up.

My call-up was the first on the third row, and I was able to take a spot on the far left side which would be good considering the first turn was a 90 degree right-hand turn on cobblestones (they were pretty smooth, but still…) The start was fast, and as I was coming up to the first corner I heard brakes squealing, and I saw women crashing on the inside of the turn. Then I saw another crash on the outside as women swept wide to avoid the other crash. I came to almost a complete stop, but was able to thread the needle between the two crashes and set out to try to catch up. The first few corners were fast, the field was already strung out, and everybody was pinning it, so there wasn’t much chance to move up. I picked off a few places in the woods before the run-up, but there was still a gap that I just couldn’t close. Whenever I would get to one of the down-up chicanes, I could see the group ahead of me going up the hill, but I just couldn’t get there. Every time I came out onto the pavement, I was by myself- there was no wheel to suck for even a moment. Maryline Salvetat came by me on the second lap and I didn’t really have the jump to go with her, but that was the only spot I lost the whole race. A few women popped off the chase group, and I was able to pick them off, but there wasn’t really much racing for me- mostly just a time-trial. I ended up finishing 13th, the first person behind the chase group. Pretty disappointing.

I guess the biggest frustration for me was that I didn’t feel like my fitness was the problem. I’m sure I could have stayed in the chase group if I could have made it there. The course was just so fast, I couldn’t close the gap. It was a good experience though- it seems like there are a lot of races like that in Europe: races where tactics and road-racing experience are beneficial (a bunch sprint for 4th-12th?). I think each race I do gives me something new to work on, and I think that all that racing will help me in future races- ‘cross and MTB. But I know I could have done better, and it’s frustrating to end the season with a race like that. But there’s always next year.

All in all, I am happy with my ‘cross season. And I’m really glad I decided to go over and do some racing in Europe, because now I now what I need to work on for next year (don’t worry, I’m not turning into a roadie…).

My “graduation” from culinary school was on Wednesday, and I decided that I’m not driving to Boulder for a year. The time commitment was definitely more than I was bargaining for, but I’m really glad I took the class (and so are Dusty and Ben- the most recent beneficiaries of my new skills). It will be nice to be able to focus on training for the next few weeks- MTB season will be here before we know it.


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