Cross the Domes – MKE 10/6

Last Saturday, Larry and I traveled to Milwaukee to compete in Cross the Domes, a cyclocross race at Mitchell Park (home of the domes) hosted by the Milwaukee-based team My Wife Inc. (MWI). It was my fourth cyclocross race and my first time competing as a category three rider. I had upgraded a few days prior to the race after receiving advice from fellow riders and friends. I’m still learning the ropes with bike racing, but essentially there are four categories for both male and female riders. The categories allow riders to compete with other riders who are at about the same ability. Once a rider starts doing well in a particular category, they “upgrade” by descending in category. Or risk being called a “sandbagger.”

Saturday was unseasonably windy and chilly. Larry’s race was in the morning and mine was early in the afternoon. The course featured stairs, a long, steep hill and countless sharp corners and bumpy terrain. When I lined up with about a dozen other category three women, I was happy to see that a few other riders I had gotten to know from previous races had also upgraded from category four. But even with a few familiar faces, I was so nervous and not knowing what to expect that I nearly felt sick to my stomach.

I started in the second row and was able to get into the second position after the initial sprint. In hindsight, I probably went out too hard, failing to fully consider the duration of the race—45 minutes, a full 15 minutes longer than what I had grown accustomed to during category four races. The toughest part of the loop was throwing my bike up on my shoulder and running up a giant hill, which launched me into total oxygen debt (in hindsight, I should have ridden up half the hill and just rolled my bike up the rest). At one point, I was leading the race, but that didn’t last long. The thing about cyclocross, though, is that you never know what is going to happen next. TheĀ  leader slipped on a corner and fell off her bike, and I was able to take the lead for a bit longer. But as I expected, she recovered quickly and passed me again a few minutes later. After five excruciating laps, I finally sprinted into the finish line for second place.

My favorite part of the race was when, on the last loop, Larry shouted to me, “you know you want the biggest cupcake!” in reference to the cupcakes given to the top three places in the race (sized in descending order). Clearly, he knows me well. My parents were also at the race—so it was awesome to see them out on the course cheering. My mom took some fantastic photos, which I think really capture the scene well.

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