Cam-Rock CX Classic

When I imagined racing cyclocross in the middle of November, I certainly never pictured myself in shorts on a 70 degree day. But luckily my tender hands and feet were saved from the inevitable extreme cold and wind for at least another week. This past Saturday I raced in the Cam-Rock CX Classic in Cambridge, about 20 miles east of Madison. Interestingly, spectating at last year’s Cam-Rock race was my first taste of cyclocross. I remember thinking, this is awesome. I want to try this. Now, exactly a year later, I’ve completed nine races and am enjoying CX more than any sport I’ve ever done.

Probably most noteworthy about this week’s race is that I upgraded from cateogry 3 to 2. Going into Saturday’s race, I hadn’t intended to upgrade. My thought was I’d finish out the season in category 3 and upgrade next year. But then a few people asked me on Saturday morning if I had upgraded yet, and it started to make me anxious. Should I upgrade? When is the right time? Are people talking badly about me? I decided to ask the official for advice. I explained my situation—I’m new to cyclocross this season, I’ve won four races in category three, people keep telling me I need to upgrade, but I don’t know if it’s time.  She told me that I hadn’t reached the mandatory upgrade point, but that I would very soon. With a smile and a hint of encouragement, she explained that category 2 races would be faster and a whole lot of fun. But in the end, she left the decision totally up to me.

I hemmed and hawed and asked Larry for advice. He listened and helped me work through the pros and cons. I realized either way, it would be fine, and ultimately decided to go for it. I figured if I’m going to be forced to upgrade soon, I might as well do it now. In category two, I’d be racing with the women’s pros and category one riders—and who better to learn from than the best women out there? In some ways it was hard to give up the idea of winning races (that will probably never happen again…I’ll be lucky to stay in the mix from now on), but in other ways, I looked forward to the idea of blending into the field and not feeling the pressure (from myself) to win races. So I’m not sure if my decision to upgrade was brave or completely wussy, but either way, I pulled the trigger.

The race went well. It was faster, a lot more aggressive, and very fun. I made many mistakes, but I think I did alright for my first race with the big guns. I ended up 7th (of 11 women). I know I’m going to have to train and work a lot harder to compete at this level. But more than anything, I need to reassure myself that I belong in the race and can compete at this level.

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