28 September 2012  |  Race Reports

What happened in vegas…Cross Vegas and first USGPs: Race Report

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…” Never thought I would invoke that saying, but when it comes to my race at Crossvegas this year…well…

I wrote a pretty long blog post about the race (the course, the blow-by-blow, etc), but I was actually boring myself, and I hadn’t even gotten to the USGP races, so I deleted it. You’re welcome. Long story short: the race was extremely tactical, and I wasn’t that smart. There was a big group at the front, no one wanted to do any work, no one was attacking, it was sketchy, and I got annoyed. So I attacked. Then I noticed it was 2 laps to go. “This isn’t going to end well,” I thought, but I didn’t sit up, I just went for it. Turns out I was a great lead-out for Lea Davison who launched an attack right after I blew myself up! Nice! And then I got dropped. I rolled through in 11th, not exactly how I was hoping to kick off my ‘cross season, but I guess you have to start somewhere. And there’s nothing like setting the bar really low to take the pressure off for your next race…

After Crossvegas the rest of the week went by pretty fast- I spent all day Thursday in the trade show doing important things like walking around, visiting with sponsors and participating in the annual Clif Bar foosball tournament (unfortunately, despite me invoking my “I won an Olympic medal and therefore deserve a do-over” right, Katerina and I didn’t make it to the finals). Friday morning Waldek, Teal and I headed to the airport for our trip to Madison, Wisconsin for the first round of the USGP (U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross for those who aren’t familiar). We arrived in Madison Friday night, had a good night’s sleep (the first in a few nights) and headed out to the venue Saturday morning.

The course in Madison was fast, dry and included some punchy climbs and a ride-able run-up. It wouldn’t be nearly as tactical a race, but I was OK with that. Before the race I was visiting with the Clif Bar guys, and they told me they had a tent by the run-up where they would be serving coffee, beer, and pie during the races. Someone joked about a pie hand-up, I laughed but secretly hoped they were serious, and then we went our separate ways.

I had a second row start spot, but that doesn’t really explain my slow start. I just wasn’t really feeling like murdering myself. After 30 seconds I was probably somewhere in the 20s, but I moved up slowly and by the last 2 laps I had moved into 2nd. Katie was off the front, and I rolled through by myself a few seconds in front of 3rd. Notably, there was no pie hand-up.
Maybe I wasn’t going slow enough to warrant pie? No, they probably ran out of pie- otherwise they surely would have offered it, right? After the race I headed over to the run-up to investigate the situation. Well, let’s just say there was plenty of pie. Not only that, but they were offering pie to the Pro men who were racing! To be fair, they did give me some pie while I was standing there, but it just wasn’t the same.

I couldn’t help but call out the Clif bar guys (on Twitter, not face to face…). Why did the pro guys get pie hand-ups but the pro women had to go without? I demanded justice and “equal pie for equal work!” Later that evening Waldek showed up at my door with a whole pie. At least someone was listening.

The next day I arrived at the venue, and the Clif bar guys sheepishly delivered another whole pie (clearly my guilt-trip worked!). I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of pie. But pre-race pie seems like a very cyclocross-y breakfast so I dug in.*
Ok ok, enough about pie, what happened in the race? The race started almost exactly like the day before- I went backwards for about 30 seconds and then slowly moved up through the field into second (Katie again off the front). I have to hand it to my competitors- everyone has stepped up their game this year; the starts are faster, and the races are harder. My legs were feeling good, I just didn’t have that killer-instinct at the start. I’m kind of like a sputtery diesel engine right now: you have to rev a few times, be patient, but once I get started I can ride…almost fast enough to win a race. There were tons of people out cheering and heckling but mostly cheering. I heard from lots of people “I can’t heckle you when you’re riding fast!” Kind of a cop-out if you ask me- I mean, I can always think of a good heckle for the people at the front of a race (and I wasn’t even winning! I was in second place! By almost a minute! Plenty to heckle there…)

So there it is- ‘cross season kicked-off, 3 races in the books, and me on a plane to a wedding. Without my bike. A little down-time is just what I need to re-boot and get ready for the rest of ‘cross season.

*Note: I did not actually consume 2 whole pies.


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