Tag Archives: Susan Adamkovics
Susan A. raced under the lights for Cross of the North. Just take a peek at those shoes and you can decide the conditions on the course that night!
Today’s (or rather tonight’s) race was under the lights and in the mud. I have raced at night once before, but that course was dry, so tonight’s conditions brought an extra challenge. I was well prepared for this race as I had everything I needed including a headlamp. The sun has been going down around 6pm and my race started at 7:30pm, so getting dressed in the dark required patience, which is sometimes hard when those race nerves start kicking in. But I did a great job of remaining calm and the whole process reminded me of camping.
After warming up on my trainer, chomping down on some scones and a triple shot of espresso, I hopped on my race bike to take a few laps on the road. It was hard to see anything or anyone, especially those wearing their all black “ninja” skinsuits. There was a full moon, but it was hiding under the thick layer of clouds. I head over to the start line to find out that my race is delayed, because several lights on the course have blown out. The officials are in the process of getting cars parked next to the course so the headlights can provide some light.
My focus for this race is to test out my new tubular wheels and to have a strong start. The whistle blows and we are off and I can’t get my left foot clipped in, it’s frustrating… it’s not like it’s the first time I’ve had this problem, I say to myself, but maybe I’m overthinking it, just like swinging a golf club, the more one thinks about hitting the ball the more likely one will miss it.
Anyway, I move on from that and focus on the race. Is it difficult to see? Yes, at times, but I think that is a good thing because it narrows one’s focus to the task at hand, and removes some of the distractions from seeing the entire course. On the first lap, I get hung up behind a few racers, but I was able to pass them when I chose to ride through the mud bog while they ran it…I didn’t want to get my shoes dirty
And so far I’m loving my tires and wheels, but as the race continues and the mud gets caked on, my front wheel starts acting strange. For some reason I think that it’s the mud causing the problem. (after the race I realize the problem was actually a flat tire) so I reach my hand over the handlebar, configure my fingers in an upside down peace sign and place them on either side of my tire to get the extra mud off. I do this several times and then decide maybe I should switch to my pit bike? I start having an internal dialog, debating whether or not I should. I finally decide to swap bikes. The pit is right next to the big mud bog and I know will have to ride a portion of it before I can go into the pit zone.
A bit distracted and not focusing on the best line in the mud, I go down, sliding across the mud. I get up, grab my bike, run into the pit, swap bikes and off I go. Awhhhh…much better! A fresh clean bike, but it’s a lap too late. The next thing I know, Amanda Miller (Hudz-Subaru) and Katie Clouse (Canyon Bicycles-Shimano) are inching up on a few of us. I’m about to get lapped by the leaders who have a 3+ minute lead on the next racer in the group…these ladies are flying. The race announcer is giving a play by play of the battle between these two ladies, one a seasoned Pro and the other a young teenager. Who wins this battle?? Katie Clouse, the teenager, the future of professional women’s racing…impressive!
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.
Why do squirrels, prairie dogs and rabbits love darting in front of your wheel like it’s an evil game? Sometimes they don’t always win as Susan found out last week.
Oh…the hazards of riding. I really do love riding my bike on the road and on the dirt, but I really dislike crashing. We have all been victim to it and the outcome varies. Not to make light of serious situations, but sometimes you have to laugh and move on. I feel like my crash number has been up for the last few weeks by narrowly being hit by car and almost nailing a tree while riding my mountain bike. There have been other things, too; I mean it has come close several times. Whether it was a groundhog or squirrel or bunny, ‘tis the season. And every time it has caused my heart rate has to skyrocket in a manner of seconds.
Well, my number was called this week and not quite the way I was expecting. It was a beautiful day, I had just finished a great workout and we were in a hurry to get home to make dinner. But somebunny had different plans for me; MINUTES from home a bunny, a rather large bunny, sprinted out of the bushes like Usain Bolt. I saw a fur ball out of the corner of my eye. Everything happened so fast; thump, flick, halt and fly. The thump was the bunny hitting my tire, the flick was his body being thrown in my front fork, the halt was his body jammed into my fork/brake and the fly was me performing a well-executed superman (without the cape).
Lying there on the pavement seeing stars, struggling to breathe and my husband runs up to me, asks “are you okay, can you move?”. Just as he bends down to touch me, I shout “don’t touch me”. I needed a minute to evaluate my body: left nipple feels like it’s been ripped off and I can’t take a deep breath (broken ribs??). Then I blurt out “stop my Garmin”, my husband said, “seriously, that is what you are concerned with?” So I must be okay, right? I stand up and start pacing back and forth trying to get over the pain. Nothing appears to be broken and my left nipple, still there (thankfully). In complete shock, I walk over to my bike to see the little mother f@#*$er. Yep, sure enough there he was all tangled up in my bike, blood, guts, and fur all over the place…suddenly dinner doesn’t sound so good anymore.
Susan, our resident endurance mountain biker, went out for the Battle of the Bear 50 miler coming away with the third fastest time of the day for the ladies! Read her detailed report here.
The alarm clock goes off, I roll over…yuck 5am, already?!? I want to hit the off button, roll over and go back to bed, but my guilt gets me out of bed. I wander downstairs, turn on the espresso machine and find the detailed list of things I need to get done that morning. It’s a detailed timeline of my morning routine and items to take with me to the race. I force myself to eat, even though I’d feeling like vomiting all over my kitchen floor…race nerves. Focus on something else…okay…it’s a beautiful morning, looks like it’s going to be a great day for a 50 mile mountain bike race, plus I have some calories to burn (oddly this tactic helps me get over my race day nerves).
Running on time, but it always seems as if I’m running late…again race day nerves. I confirm with myself that I truly am “on-time” and not to worry. I arrive at the venue; get my bike ready and warm-up. At the starting line I’m looking around and don’t recognize anyone. Random thoughts are popping in and out of my head; I see a woman on a CX bike…impressive I thought to myself. I quickly redirect my thoughts to focusing on my start: am I in the proper gear, do I go for the hole shot, how much is this going to hurt?
We’re off and I sprint and win the holeshot (first racer to enter onto the singletrack), which is my preference since I do not know the technical abilities of the other racers. Going hard but not too hard, after all this will be a long race and I need to save some for later. I find that three of us get a small gap on the rest of the pack. At first it looked like we were going to work together, but that didn’t last. One of the ladies pulled ahead during the first lap, but I reeled her back in, while all the time having another racer on my wheel. I found myself in the lead for 3.5 laps, stupidly letting the other racer sit on my wheel. There was a time where I thought she started to drop off, but the next thing I knew she was stuck to my wheel, like white on rice. It was my fault, I let her sit there not working. She was analyzing my every move; she knew my weaknesses and my strengths. I knew nothing of hers, except she was one smart cookie to hang on my wheel and let me do the work. I told myself I like it this way; I work harder with someone pressuring me from behind…I couldn’t be more wrong, but yet I let it happen. She knew exactly when to attack me and when she did, I didn’t respond. Frozen in time, I saw her pedal away in disbelief. Finding myself discouraged and becoming fatigued, I started to battle with holding my pace. I had to work hard to keep my head in the game and keep going, then surprise, a racer sneaks up on me with five miles to go. She passes me as we start the climb, this time I stay on her wheel but we get stuck behind another racer who was suffering. The rutted trail made it difficult to pass, she goes left, loses her rear wheel, but saves it. I say to myself I have to pass this guy, so I pass to the right, but by that time she was at the crest of the hill. I was about 15 seconds behind her, which is a lot of time in bike racing. On the next and longest climb on the course, she gained more time on me and I lost sight of her due to all the switchbacks on the trail. By now I was counting the miles to the finish and happy that I was almost done as my legs were on the verge of cramping. I have to be proud of myself for achieving the third fastest time of the day amongst all the women’s groups, but I am furious with myself for allowing someone to take advantage of me and not fighting hard when it was important.
After two years of injury, Susan has come back strong as ever. Great to watch her thrive in the dirt and on the road this season!
It’s the last race of the Winter Park series and I’m barely hanging on, suffering from burn out. I need to take a break from racing and I know it, but I decided use this final race as a way to better myself in the future. It was cloudy and cool, but the sun was starting to come out the closer we got to the starting area. Today’s start is on a three mile dirt road section…
3-2-1-go and we are off.
I quickly tuck into the middle of the pack, bits of gravel are spitting up in my face and dust plumes are being kicked up by the mass of women racing down the dirt road. At the first incline the group splits up and I find myself dangling off the front group at my limit and I can’t hang. I’m quickly joined by a few other racers; we work together to catch another racer who fell victim to the fast pace set by the Pro Women.
Somehow, I end up in the front pulling the pack right before the left hand turn onto the singletrack. While being on the front is typically a great place to be, the problem was I had spent too much time on the front and was tired. Every rider in my pack passed me as we started the climb up Morse pass. Trying hard to not beat myself up; I told myself to ignore the little devil in my head, keep pedaling (even though I wanted to stop) and find a rhythm. I actually reached the top of the pass in a decent time. I planned to stop at the top to let some air out of my rear tire. Before I stopped, I practiced it in my head how I was going to do it so I would not lose a lot of time.
I pushed myself on the Blue Spruce descent to make anytime I possibly could and was able to catch a racer. Next up was Flume and Chainsaw, two of the more technical parts of the course, and I rode it well. I pushed myself a bit too hard on the last part of Chainsaw, which is an energy zapping climb. I had enough left to get me through the Elk Meadow climb, but I was getting tired and starting to ride sloppy on the downhill part. The course was wet and muddy, with lots of puddles.
Right before the D2 climb there were two huge puddles and no way to avoid them. Right after that, I had to quickly downshift as the steep part of D2 was right in front of me. Unfortunately, my chain got stuck. It was jammed in there pretty bad, but after a few hard yanks I managed to get it unstuck. This really deflated my mental state and I found myself unable to fight any longer. Typically, I can continue to persevere, but not today and not right now. I finished the race and thought I was going to die a few times during the last few miles or so and of course I knew I certainly wasn’t going to die, but I wanted it to be over. I crossed the finish line with a smile. It was a victory smile, as I was proud of myself for sticking with it and never giving up (even though I wanted to many times). I finished 2nd overall in the Expert class 40-49 for Winter Park Series, not a bad way to end the mountain biking season.
Susan A. took first (along with Megan) this weekend at Winter Park’s technical Point to Point race. Despite all her mechanicals, she pulled out the big W!
The unexpected win. My body was still recovering from Mountain Bike Marathon Nationals, I hadn’t been on my mountain bike for a week, historically I have never done well at this race and well…I flat out wasn’t in the mood to race today. I even tried to offer up my rear wheel to my husband who got a last minute flat during his warm-up ride, but it didn’t work.
3-2-1-GOooo and we were off. I was taking it easier at the start than usual, but I knew I didn’t want to get stuck behind anyone going into the single track, so I give a few hard efforts to make my way towards the front of the group of racers I was with. The first section, called Lower Arapahoe, was a little tricky and I wasn’t riding it well, but once I found myself on Upper Cherokee I was flying, trying make up the time I had lost a few minutes earlier. I got up to the racer who was in first place, Michelle (Avout Racing). I stayed on her tail for a while, backing off every now and again, but never losing sight of her. At the Vasquez Ford water crossing she had some trouble and had to dismount, while I was able to ride through it and pass her upon exiting the ford. Then we played a little cat and mouse, but she eventually pulled away from me. During the second half of the race, I dropped my chain six times while descending, two of which I could not get back on my crank simply by shifting the front derailleur, and so I had to stop to manually put it back on. It was frustrating, but not uncommon for this race, however I will say that six times seems excessive. I kept my cool and tried to make up the lost time on the flats and hills, which must have worked because during the last 2-3 miles I caught Michelle again.
We were on a trail called Flume, a rooted, rocky, twisty, and technical trail in the trees, with short punchy technical climbs, which are my strength. I passed her and then put the hammer down, and found that I quickly gained a slight gap. The trail popped out onto a jeep road before heading onto more singletrack. I looked back and she was closer than I wanted her to be and I knew I had to ride focused, smart and FAST. Again, I opened up a gap, but larger than before. However, even though it was a flat trail, it was loaded with roots and rocks and I dropped my chain for the sixth time! That horrible feeling of lightning speed pedaling with no traction is always sinking feeling. I couldn’t downshift to force it back on, so I quickly hopped off my bike, pushed my rear derailleur forward to provide slack in my chain, used my finger to get the chain back on my crank, clicked my left shifter and grabbed my pedal to rotate the chain around the crank to make sure it was on, crap! I did it too fast I didn’t get enough of the chain on the crank, so I had to do it all again. In the nick of time, I hopped back on my bike, did a quick look back and saw Michelle out of the corner of my eye. This was it, with very little remaining to the finish line, I had to give it all I had and not screw up. I crossed the finish line first and took the win. It was unexpected, to say the least and it felt good, but winning usually does.
Susan A. CRUSHED the first mountain bike race of the year….all 60 miles of it and landed on the podium. Even after racing 60 miles, she still supported her other teammate doing the 30 mile race. Truly inspiring ride for the day.
I was undecided; race 30 miles or race 60 miles, after all the last time I raced 60 miles, let alone rode 60 miles on my mountain bike was two years ago. Then I read a Facebook post made by Vera, “to live every day and enjoy everything you have”. So the 60-miler was it, heck why not! Saturday was shaping up to be a beautiful day and as it got closer, I started to get nervous…what was I thinking signing up for this? I am not in the right kind of shape…I have no clue how to race this kind of event. But I reminded myself that life is about living and to believe in myself.
The morning of the race, I got a text message from Rachel saying that she was going to be at the race supporting her boyfriend and that if I needed anything to let her know. I was planning on going with the flow and if necessary using neutral support, however having her there for feeding and moral support gave me a huge sense of relief. I did a 15 minute warm-up with a few hard efforts, then headed over to the start-line. I was nervous yet calm, as I knew the effort wasn’t going to be all out from the start.
The start was on a gradual uphill paved road for about 250 meters before we hit the singletrack. The whistle blows and Cristienne Beam (Tough Girls/SCOTT) takes off like she was shot out of a cannon. Holy crap! I quickly joined her, because I wasn’t going to let her get away. The pace was high and the two of us were caught by Laura (unattached). We found ourselves pulling away from the rest of the group. I guess was wrong about the pace!
After a few miles, I found myself in the lead and pulling away from the other two racers. I thought: Am I going too fast? Am I going to bonk? I had no clue what to do or what to expect. I chose to go with it and just see what happens. I had about two miles left of the ten mile lap and I was still in the lead. I thought well, okay, let’s do this one lap at a time. The goal for the first lap was to cross the lap line in first place. I did just that for first lap and then the next three as well. I felt great for the first 30 miles, I was riding strong and technically sound, but I really wasn’t sure what so do, how fast should I go or not go? I had no one in my group to chase down.
To keep my speed up, I started focusing on men in front of me and trying to catch them and repeating the mantra “out of sight out of mind”. At times, I would catch my mind wondering, thinking about all kinds of stupid things and not the task at hand, but I quickly realized it and redirected them. I tried to focus on positive thoughts, like I am strong, I am good at endurance events, I know how to ride my bike. But I also, had keep my skills dialed in by reminding myself to keep my chin up, look where I want to go, keep my grip loose, etc.
The course had several punchy climbs, a few short climbs, but mostly it was twisty-turny with loose gravel on top of hard-packed dirt. It is easy to go too fast and find yourself off the trail wrapped around a tree or headed down a ravine. While the course isn’t technical in the sense of big of rocks, drops and tree roots, it does require skill and the ability to control the bike at higher speeds to prevent crashing when going fast into a corner. It is mostly about tire pressure, weight distribution and finding the right amount of speed to go fast and stay upright.
Around mile 42, I started to get tired and found myself looking behind me a lot to gauge where the other racers where. Going thought the feed zone and approaching the beginning a lap five, Rachel said, “I think you are in first”, I said.” yes, I am”, but I knew my lead was about to be challenged. I tried to keep pushing it, but eventually I was caught and she said “wow, I thought I was never going to see you again” and then said, “ keep it rolling, there are a few close behind”… I was tired and speechless, but appreciated the encouragement. I stayed with her for a bit, but was starting to make several mistakes, almost crashing a few times. Although I surprised myself that I was able to make the save each time, and keep from crashing. I backed it off a little, otherwise I was going end up off my bike in the dirt. While it is frustrating to lead a race for two-thirds of it and end up in second place, I am very proud of myself and what I accomplished, both mentally and physically that day. I took a chance, relished the moment and had a successful outcome and that IS living.
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.
Please start by watching this video from Amanda 1.0, then proceed to the race report. Congrats to all the Naked ladies who represented in Louisville 2013 for Cyclocross Masters World Championships!
There were many unforgettable quotes this weekend. The one that stands out most was by Susan’s coach, Jon Tarkington, “The race is not the most memorable part of the experience. It is everything else.” I have to agree. The race was a 63 minute grueling experience. The training, rides, nerves and spending time with others before and after was much more memorable.
We arrived Monday and got up bright-and-early on Tuesday to pre-ride the course. Not so bad, warm weather, cloudy, did not need leg or arm-warmers. The course itself had some off-camber turns, some easy barriers as they were on a flat area of the course, sand that would easily pack down from the humidity. The most challenging area was a run up, then an off-camber s-turn, another run up and a steep descent before heading back to the finish. Did it take some practice? Yes. Was it very technically challenging? No, but that is all about to change.
Middle of the night, we were awoken by tornado warnings, we looked out the window to see high winds and pouring rain (what else would you do during a tornado?). The course was flooded by the morning and the race sign had been blown over. Races were all delayed that morning. We decided to do leg-openers in the heated tent that was provided by the amazing crew at Pro Bike Express but would forego riding the course for fear of injuring ourselves or our bikes. There was a heat that Joan had to race in and they pronounced her last name wrong but said they would get it right when she won the championship. We picked up our race numbers and Susan found out that her new lucky number was actually 18.
Thursday–race day. Joan raced first. It was a muddy mess and cold so the ground was a bit more firm than later in the day. She did very well with few mistakes and took 5th place in the World (women, non-elite, age group).
I then raced and had the fortunate pleasure of a very muddy, grueling course. I had to pit my bike every half lap. At one point my wheels locked up from the mud and I ran my bike into the pit, it was estimated that my bike weighed 45 pounds. My pit crew was absolutely amazing. An announcer said that “Pit crews don’t win a race but they can lose one.” This is absolutely true but luckily my pit crew was flawless. Each time I came through my bike was a mangled mess but when I left it was clean, in the correct gear, pedals in the proper spot, chain back on and ready (although let me also add that they probably had 10 minutes to get it right as I was going that slow). I ran approximately half of each lap with an increase of weight from mud on the cleats, shoes and calves. I kept thinking that I am a cyclist, not a runner, and would try to get back on my bike but could not move. This is also the moment that Michael Hanna’s running intervals came through for me. The downhills were slick and the flats were slow. Two laps done and my legs were burning like never before, I pointed to the time as I could not speak from over-exertion trying to indicate that my race was over as I was pass the time limit. The official looks and me and calmly states that the “Race isn’t over until I say it is over. One more lap…” It takes everything in me to not DNF. According to the officials, I passed two more people that lap and rode exhausted but with few errors. I remember thinking at the end that I would take the final decent as fast as possible as my racing season was over and if I broke an ankle, I could hobble in and then have time to recover. Cyclocross is all about pre-riding and figuring out how to ride the course, but each lap was so different that it was like a new course each time. I finished in 8th place.
Susan then raced and had a wonderful race, she was so strong and watching her race reminds me that I have a long way to go. She had the largest women’s field that day and raced against very strong women. We finished the races proud of our accomplishments and ready to get some well-deserved rest.
Then the unthinkable happened, we started talking about planning to race the Cyclocross World Championships in 2015 in Tabor, Czech Republic. Watch out World, Naked Women’s Racing is coming back for a podium…
Special shout out to City of Louisville for being so friendly, welcoming and hosting a great week of racing. To Pro Bike Express for ensuring that our bikes were working perfectly, for keeping everything running smooth and for remembering all the things that we forgot. To Naked Juice for giving me the strength to train, to Michael Hanna for always being a wonderfully supportive coach, to Bike Source for keeping my bike in working condition (it is coming in soon), Rudy Project for the flashy helmet and Colorado Women’s Cycling Project for being a super supportive women’s cycling team. To Emily Zinn for my good luck socks and magazines, Katie Macarelli for my mix CD, Nicole Mack for the personalized cowbell and for all the well wishes from everyone. You all rock.
Susan Adamkovics and Rachel Scott hosted the 2nd Annual BRAC Women’s Summit at Boulder Beer. Great to see so many women wanting to grow and improve the sport in Colorado! Plenty of Naked ladies made the trek to Boulder Beer too, showing their support.
This year’s summit had about 50+ more participants than last year–including staff, board members, promoters, officials, the ED of OIWC, new and seasoned racers–and adopted four initiatives for 2013. Also, 2012 was our largest year for participation across the board in every senior and masters category (32.8% growth over 2011). SW4 and SW45+ saw the largest growth percentages. Retention from Cat 4 to 3 was a focus of the evening as statistically many come into the sport as a beginner to never be seen again. 2012 is no different than any year prior for BRAC or other LA’s across the country. But also nationally, retention rates for nonprofit membership-based organizations for 1st year new members hovers around 70%. It’s a problem shared among organizations like BRAC.
Overall, the feedback thus far from the summit has been very positive. Colorado has a great group of passionate, strong female athletes who want to grow the sport for women and are willing to work to make it happen despite raising families, working full time, and fitting in training where they can. I’m continually impressed by the stories women share, insight they offer into the sport, and willingness to work whether impacting one person at a time or influencing a room full of people. I know I’m excited about it and have experienced growth first hand with our team growing from 6 in 2010 to 60 women for 2013, with many of them never having participated a bike race in their life as of yet.
Susan and I are preparing a recap and survey during the holiday to send to participants and registered BRAC riders. This will also be published on coloradocycling.org.
And also, a HUGE thank you Jennifer Triplett for being a genuine keynote speaker and starting us off in a positive direction. Colorado is lucky to have you!