Cyclocross is supposed to be muddy, treacherous and hard, right? Susan lost count of how many times she slid out, crashed and walked like a frog. But she did it all with a smile. Read more to find out why this race was so tough.
Some of Colorado’s finest female CX racers begin to gather at the start line and circle around like sharks hunting for the kill. As we wait to be called up into our proper starting order, the rain begins. As does the chatter about sprinklers watering the course, but “don’t worry” we’re told, safety cones are on course where the water has puddled up. Oh and the 180 turn at the far end of the course that we were riding during warm up is more slippery than snot, so run it. Oh and the good lines in the mud have all been trampled by the Pro Men who went right before us. Everything about the course has changed from when we rode it during warm-up.
A couple of racers decided to bag the race in fear of injury and others are getting last minute bike swaps, ones that are more suitable for the slick, muddy conditions. A few minutes delayed, but the race begins and so does the adventure. The course starts on asphalt, then up a curb to a wet grassy off camber set of steep “S” turns, my rear tire is sliding from side to side, but I manage to keep it upright. Next up a tight right and uphill turn into a set of barriers, this left me gasping for air at the top.
As I am coming off the sidewalk down the slightly off camber grassy hill, I see the sprinklers. They are on, arching overhead directly onto the course and right on the slicker than snot 180 turn. I quietly say to myself, “hey it’s cyclocross, anything goes.” The racer in front of me attempts to ride the 180, but goes down. I quickly hop off and find myself able to make it around her with little trouble.
But the most challenging sections are still to come and those sections become worse as the race and rainy weather continues. We are all struggling, some more than others. For me on this day, I was struggling both physically and mentally. I lost count of how many times I slid out, sometimes crashing harder than others, chainring falling off getting stuck between my ring and derailleur and the absence of toes spikes made running in the slick mud very difficult (placed an order for toes spikes in all sizes today). In fact, the only way I could make it up one section was by walking like a frog, I had absolutely no traction. All I could do was smile, have fun with it and do the best I could. But one thing I knew for sure was that I would finish, even if that meant last place.
After it was all over, a few spectators congratulated me for a job well done. They saw me out there struggling, but never giving up. This will be a race I will not forget.