Lori reflects on strategy being an important component to cyclo-cross racing, although she has found it tough to incorporate when redlined…until now!
Last week, I had one of the best races of my cross career. I was both mentally and physically engaged from the time the whistle blew to the time I crossed the finish line. So often I find myself post-race in a ‘hindsight is 20/20’ scenario when I realize all the things I could have tried but didn’t think of during the race. Not this race; two of us maintained a solid cat-and-mouse for the entire race duration and, to my amazement, my mind showed up! All of those ideas were there when I needed them – every one of my inefficiencies registered and I adjusted accordingly.
My competitor was strong on the straightaway sections and there were plenty of them. She was a mountain goat and made the steep climbs look like a breeze. This race was significantly different for me as I chased: my mind was present and attentively watching where she was not pedaling or braking earlier than I was and I made it a point to capitalize on those areas.
Let’s be honest, my efforts were not all graceful. I had a few moments of my typical brute force style. I tried to pass on a steep hill because our climbing cadences were different, but my wheel slipped causing me to dismount and run. Panicking, I compounded the issue by not looking through a corner, causing my bike and I to hit the deck. After untangling myself, my strategic mind scolded me while I pushed harder with my new found knowledge. This was foreign territory for me since I’m usually out of sorts after falling but instead my mind was dialing in the next move.
To me, it is not the finishing position (although everyone does enjoy a podium) but more about the quality of the race and racing. I know she and I agree that we got our money’s worth that day! After a few minutes of recovery, we high-fived and congratulated each other on our efforts.
To new race friendships…both my competitor and my new found racing self! I hope both show up again soon.