Trek CXC Cup Race Report

DSC00531I raced both days of the Trek Cyclocross Collective Cup at the Trek headquarters in Waterloo this past weekend. It was the first year of the event, initiated after the USGP race series came to an end in 2012. Not wanting to loose a UCI race in Wisconsin, the local CX community banded together with tremendous leadership from race directors JP and Renee. In the span of a few short months, they recruited sponsors, built a small army of volunteers, created a course from scratch, and invited some of the best CX riders in the world to Wisconsin.

It was my first race of the season and I couldn’t have been more excited. After months of Ironman training, it felt so good to hit the grass and dirt, and race in a completely different way. I was immediately reminded how much I love the sport and just can’t get enough—the challenge, the atmosphere, the people, it all just makes me happy. Interestingly, not only was it my first race, but it was also the biggest—with the largest and most competitive fields we’ll probably see all season.

I raced in the women’s cat 2/3 race both days. I was extremely nervous before the first race on Saturday. I had just gotten on my CX bike for the first time that week, and was still sore from Wednesday’s practice. I also had no idea if I was recovered enough from Ironman to race—I felt good, but still wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. One rider I know had strongly advised me against racing too soon after Ironman—he told me that it would be best to wait until mid-October to start my season. But I just couldn’t wait that long.CX2

The officials did call-ups for the start in order of registration. I had registered late, which meant starting in the back for both races. With such a large field, and the fact that the start is the most important part of a CX race in establishing position, it was not a great place to be. Interestingly, I had one of the best starts I’ve ever had on Saturday, and the absolute worst on Sunday. On Saturday, the whistle blew, I found a clear path through the pack, and after the first thirty seconds, I was probably in fourth or fifth position. Shortly after, I dropped my chain, but was thankfully able to recover quickly. In contrast, on Sunday, after the whistle blew, I immediately hit the wheel of the person in front of me and fell off my pedals. It was completely my fault, and I hope I didn’t cause the person in front of me too much trouble. That mishap put me close to last out of the start, with a lot of ground to make up.

Both races were 45 minutes long, which translated into six loops of the course. The first part of the loop was tricky—a slick, extremely steep downhill with a tricky curve leading into a monster run-up, then a set of barriers and another challenging descent with wicked off camber cornering. I tried to ride those parts cautiously, and then turn up the speed for the rest of the loop, which featured bumpy, but relatively flat terrain and a lot of cornering.CX1

On Saturday, I rode the first two loops in third place, then caught and passed the woman in second, realizing first was just ahead. At different points in the course, I would get closer to the leader, then she would pull ahead. I knew it was going to take a lot of effort to make a move. After the fourth loop, exhaustion set in and I talked myself into the fact that I was really happy with second place (I hadn’t considered a podium even a remote possibility going into the race) and that I better save some energy for Sunday’s race (and perhaps also for any lingering Ironman recovery). In hindsight, I wish I would have pushed harder those last two loops and seen what was possible. I learned after Sunday’s failed start that sometimes you only have one opportunity to go for it. But I also fully realize that the woman who eventually won on Saturday is an extremely strong rider, and even if I had given it everything to the end, she still would have likely won. But still, I wonder, what if I had dug deeper? One thing I realized is that I need to take advantage of drafting—I avoided being anywhere near the leader’s wheel, as I thought that would be uncool. But it turns out that’s completely legit in CX, or so I’ve been told.

Sunday’s race was a very different beast. Messing up the start seemed to fuel my motivation, though. I knew that I would be playing catch up, and needed to be patient and focus on passing one rider at a time. I gave it my all—this time until the very end. My favorite part was going back and forth with my friend April. We were battling it out back and forth for third and fourth place. It was intense, but we were still shouting encouraging words at each other. At one point, I was taking a terrible line on a round-about section of the course, and she yelled, Kristin, next time take the corner wider—that will give you a better line. That’s what I love most about CX—when you’re totally duking it out with another rider and pushing each other to your absolute limit, all while having a blast and truly appreciating what one another are bringing to the race.

All in all, it was an awesome weekend, and I can’t wait for more. I am really thankful to have had the opportunity to race on such a great course, and watch a few of the best riders in the world during the pro races, right here in Wisconsin. Thanks to everyone who made the inaugural Trek CXC Cup possible, and such a great success.

Category: Racing and Training One comment »

One Response to “Trek CXC Cup Race Report”

  1. Julie

    What can’t you do, my friend? Congratulations!!

Leave a Reply

Back to top