We got Amanda 1.0’s take on the World’s experience. Here’s Susan A.‘s take. She also had one of the largest fields at 2013 Cyclocross Masters World Championships.
As with any preparation for any major event, it requires dedication, discipline and organization. When it’s cold and windy, doesn’t matter, I ride my bike. When you’d rather have a spa day, nope ride my bike. When I want to party like a rock star, nope that will have to wait. Another key is to avoid the sick who are everywhere this time of year. Eating right, drinking plenty of water, sleeping good, avoiding stress, and allowing my body to recover from those hard days is essential. Then balancing all this in with a full-time career and household duties requires planning and sticking to that plan.
It’s Monday afternoon and I’m on my way wearing my new grey and pink heavy duty mud boots, which of course match my cycling kit. At the airport, I noticed a lot of sick people or I am being overly sensitive, I thought to myself? Regardless, I wrap myself up in a scarf and equip myself with hand sanitizer. Yes, most cyclists hate getting sick and try to avoid it like the plague. I land in Lou’ville…L’ville around 9pm and am greeted by Amanda’s smiling face and now I am starting to get excited; I am in Louisville to race the Masters CX World Championships. We hop in the car and make our way to the hotel. But our journey was extended by a wrong turn and we ended up going over the bridge into Indiana. I later find out that the area is commonly referred to as Kentuckyana (as if it is our 51st state). So we navigate our way back to the hotel and I grab a quick bite to eat. Yum, soup, that sounds good to my sore dry throat. I enthusiastically inquired about the soup of the day; the lady behind the counter said,”Bacon Cheeseburger”, trying not to choke on my saliva, I polity declined, and opted for a salad.
Tuesday morning, after picking up my race packet and drawing “lucky” number 18 as my call-up placing, we headed over to the venue. I stepped out the car and was pleasantly surprised about how warm it was and hoped it would stay this way for the next few days. We headed over to our tent, which was a haven provided for us by ProBike Express; they had an awesome set-up. Amanda and I went out on the course. It was mostly flat, with two mini-staircases made from railroad ties, one set of double barriers, two rideable sandpits, a steep hill run-up, some off camber turns and a steep downhill that lead to the finish line. The conditions of the course were grassy, with several slight to moderate muddy sections. I was excited, because it was a good course and seemed like it was going to be a fun race. We left to grab some lunch before returning to cheer on our teammate Joan in her qualifying heat.
4:30 AM Wednesday MORNING, the PA system in the hotel goes off, telling us that a tornado warning has been issued for the City of Louisville. We were told to take cover move to the interior of the hotel and away from the windows. Amanda gets up, calmly grabs her pillow and comforter and moves to other room; I look out the window to see it raining sideways and then I do the same. Ten minutes later, another warning over the PA, this time it’s the National Weather Service. I get up to take another look out the window, the wind outside looks still. I think to myself, “this is not a good sign”, but I turned around and went back to the couch. Then about 15 minutes later, they canceled the warning and I fell back asleep. Our plan was to head over to the venue around 11am to ride the course again. Once we got there, I realized the weather forecast wasn’t wrong and about 1.5 inches of rain fell overnight. Everything was a muddy wet mess, good thing I brought those mud boots! Since we didn’t want to get our bikes dirty and risk having issues on race day, we did our ride on the trainer. There were several seeding heats taking place all day long and they were tearing up the course. This is when we started to get a sick feeling that the course conditions for Thursday were going to be bad, but we didn’t know just how bad.
Thursday, race day! We woke up to a dusting of snow and cold weather. Amanda and I arrived around 10:30am, everything was still a muddy wet mess. Joan’s start time was 11:30am; Joan’s husband, Volker and I were her pit crew. None of us had any idea what to expect from the conditions of the course, however we knew that Joan would likely need to come into the pits to get a clean bike…little did we know. On her first lap, Joan stays on course and goes by the first pit entrance, which was probably an okay decision. Some time goes by, and there was no sign of the racers, “where in the heck were they?” I was thinking, and “why are they going so slow?” Then finally the first racer appeared and entered the pit at the second entrance. Volker pointed out the massive amount of mud caked onto her bike. That’s when we knew Joan was going to have to come into the pits this time, whether or not she was planning to. I saw her coming and ran over to tell her to come into the pit. The first lap took 17 minutes, double the time from her race on Tuesday. The official announced that they only were going to complete two laps in the allotted race time. Joan did great given the circumstances and was the guinea pig for the rest of us. I wasn’t able to watch Amanda race, because I was warming up for my race. But the course was equally as miserable if not worse after having even more racers muck it up.
Next up, me! What a crazy mess my race was! It was really impossible to actually race my bike in the sea of mud and I found myself having to run a lot, which at times was faster than riding. For the start, I was afraid to be in too hard of a gear, because the continuous mud started about 75-100 feet from the start and I didn’t want to have a problem shifting into an easier gear. However, looking back I probably would have been okay, but it is so hard to know because I have never raced in conditions like this ever in my life….cold yes, snow yes…sea of mud no. Having clipping in, I was one of the last racers entering the mud bog, but I pushed it and quickly passed a few girls before going into the first right hand turn. My plan was to double pit; a hard lesson learned from Joan’s race. Of course, I was hoping not to have to do that, none of us were. Joan loaned me her bike to use as my “pit” bike, which was great. However, I have never ridden it for any length of time, which was not the ideal situation but without it I would have been running the entire second lap. The first lap went as good as can be expected. I ended up passing another girl on the big slippery downhill on the way to the start/finish. The worst part of the course was the part between pit entrance one and pit entrance two and that is when I was Joan’s bike, which became completely clogged up with mud and both wheels quit rotating, but I only realized the problem after the second time of trying to remount the bike and get going without success. I ended up running for longer than I wanted to get to the pits. It sounds like Thursday might have been the worst possible conditions of the week. But, at least my other two teammates raced on Thursday and we can commiserate and share the absurdness of it all together. I have found it hard to explain to others what we endured, because in Colorado we don’t have weather like this. Nothing in my training could have 100% prepared me for the conditions I experienced and only the people there will ever understand the craziness. It really takes a village in events like these and is why you have teammates…family and friends…who help support you, take care of you…it’s not the end result that’s important…it’s how you get there that matters.