Race Report from Amanda Bye, who braved the snow and Cyclo X in Louisville with Joan, Susan, CB and Jenny.
Those who know me well or have read my biography on TriBella’s website know that I am always cold. Hence choosing cyclocross as a sport is perhaps not the best decision I have made. This weekend was a perfect example of how utterly cold and addicting cyclocross can be.
With approximately 9-12 inches of snow (depending on who was reporting) and a high of 21 degrees Fahrenheit, who was thinking, “Hey, maybe I should go ride my bike?” Many cross racers in Colorado had that thought and came out for the Louisville Cross Cup race which had a promise to be challenging and it did not disappoint. During the SM Open race the sun peaked out and gave hope that the temperature might raise to above freezing. However, this hope quickly diminished as the clouds rolled back in just before the SM 55+ and SW 4s race began.
The SW 4s race began on a muddy eight inch single track that had been carved out by previous racers. I feverishly struggled to bang snow and ice off of my cleats while trying to not veer off into the slick snow. This would remain the goal for the race. There were two barriers and a run up that was covered in ice and snow. Surprisingly that was not the biggest challenge of the course. There was another barrier, muddy run up and then a long, muddy run around two angled 180 degree turns and a straight away. By the time I could remount my bike, there was often a tennis ball size chunk of mud on the bottom of my cleat, making it difficult to both run and get back into the pedals. I have never carried my bike so far but when I attempted to remount during that section, I typically ended up sliding out in the mud and losing precious time. So running was the only alternative.
The mud, snow and ice were a challenge. However, the cold temperatures made the race almost unbearable at times. I thought about taking a DNF the first lap when I could not brake or change gears due to the fact that I could not feel my fingers and yet they still hurt from the cold (and continue to be sensitive as a write this report). I was thankful to have my TriBella thermal jacket, which kept my core very warm and the snowboarding socks that kept my feet toasty. I remember earlier in the day, seeing racers with icicles coming out of their nostrils and wondering why I decided that racing, as opposed to sitting in my warm house, made sense to me that morning.
I did finish and met my cyclocross goal of the season, which was to have a top 10 finish in a Cross Cup race. There were other Bellas out there battling the elements, Jennifer Kumbier, Susan Adamkovics, Joan Orgeldinger and Christienne Beam, as well as other light hearted supportive women and men who all knew the pain that was earned that day. The weather, falls and slips made this race a challenge, but once finished and back in a warm car, you couldn’t help but feel proud and start looking forward to the next race. No matter what it brings.
Special thank you to Mountain Moon Photography for the great photos both at this race and so many others.