Rochester C1 – 9th
Rochester C2 – 7th
Jingle Cross C2 – 1st
Jingle Cross World Cup – 10th
Jingle Cross C1 – 16th
Waterloo C2 – 6th
Waterloo World Cup – 7th
Current World Cup Overall standing: 8th !!!
It’s been a big block of racing… After beating it home from mountain bike Worlds in Mont Sainte Anne, I hit pause – mentally at least. The motivation that’d carried me through the latter part of the mountain bike season was let go with a sigh of relief. Yes, it was a good summer. And yes, I was ready for it to be over. There was hardly a better way for that to come about than with my experience at Worlds; from which I could carry the enthusiasm and competitive energy straight into three big weekends of cyclocross.
Rochester was my first cx race of the season, like last year, only this time I would continue on to Iowa City and Waterloo for two World Cups afterwards. I was hoping to scoop a few more UCI points this year but, funnily enough, finished in the exact same positions – 9th and 7th. The difference, I suppose, between this and last year was that I was riding with the lead chase groups and contesting for top 5’s, whereas last year I chewed my way up from the back row into the top 10. Arguably more competitive this year, but physically stronger last year.
My new teammate, Michael van den Ham, and I came back home for a few days. It was a brief busy operation between Rochester and flying down to Iowa where we’d meet up with the American half of our Easton-Giant team; making one key errand down to VeloColour in Toronto where we did an evening skills clinic and picked up Michael’s freshly painted custom bike. It’s so rad! Check out his Instagram (@MVDHcx)
I was one of only a handful of racers who took the line in all three UCI events in Iowa, and I think I won the unofficial Omnium (?). My race Sunday in the C1 definitely suffered from my efforts on the previous days, but I was totally psyched with my C2 and World Cup races Friday and Saturday – my first cx UCI win, and World Cup top 10! Crazy.
In the World Cup, I made quick work getting from the 4th/5 row up into the first dozen wheels or so, and over the course of the opening lap found my way into the mix with the top 5. It was kind of crazy, and took a bit of processing on if it was real. Looking at the people beside me and thinking – yah they could podium, or even win, and then wondering how I’d managed to stack myself there with them. In the back half of the race I lost a few positions, slipping back to 10th, which was disappointing, but I wasn’t disappointed… it was still a big breakthrough to see and recognise I can actually go fast enough to compete with some of the best cyclocross racers in the world. Now I just need to practice sticking with it.
More mind fogging racing in Waterloo, Wisconsin came this past weekend. I say mind fogging because my brain is just a hazy mess right now. It’s difficult to create context and gauge the significance of my results from the past two weeks. On one hand, this is only my first proper cyclocross season, racing with a well-supported team (notes and post to come on our equipment setup for this fall!), and am finishing within striking distance of World Cup podiums. On the other, these aren’t full-fledged fields. So does it really count, and does it really matter in terms of establishing a career as a professional cyclist? Do I need to go to Europe to try and validate my results here and fight for World Cup standings (there’s good bonuses for overall standings, but payout for each race is not great for the women – save for in Waterloo, where Trek pays both categories equally). And do I have the energy to keep travelling and racing through the fall and winter?
I’m not sure. My brain is foggy, the goals aren’t clear yet… but I am having fun racing cyclocross.
I had a lot of fun in Waterloo – railing the dry fast C2 course on Friday where I set the second fastest lap of the race after Jolanda Neff, who won the race. And then battling through the muddiest conditions I have ever experienced to finish 7th in the World Cup. It was a total race of attrition; just keep moving forward, do not let up, and do not give up.
The results this weekend were the best I’ve ever had on the world’s stage, and the effort I put in to those performances were also some of my best ever. After letting competitors ride past me late in the race without an earnest fight or sense of urgency all summer, I finally held it down – maintaining or improving my position in the last third of the race. It feels good to fight right to the end, and I’m happy I found the switch in my head to make it matter.
Drastically different conditions meant changing up tires and pressures. Our team runs tubeless Vittoria tires on Easton wheels with Orange Seal tire sealant (yes, shameless product placement. But honestly, this is good stuff)
Friday tire setup: Mix front, Dry rear @ 21/23psi
Sunday tire setup: Wet front and rear @ 17/18psi
Some people went higher on Friday for the fast dry course, but I stayed in the middle range to help take some of the roughness out of the hard bumpy ground. On Sunday we were honestly slogging along so slowly in the mud that I probably could’ve gone even lower and not risked burping the tires, but 17/18 is pretty comfortable and safe for me when I need grip – and is comparable to what people on tubulars were doing.
So, what to do now. Well, I’ll be thinking about it lots. I have to weigh out my goals, potential, motivation, and opportunities for both cyclocross and mountain biking… The future is now, so I want to make good choices – ones that satisfy my ambitions and make me happy now, and that will also hopefully lead to a sustainable future as a cyclist. I certainly feel extremely privileged and fortunate for the support I have now with AWI Racing and Easton-Giant, but I still need to work harder and find more to keep progressing towards what I’d consider a successful career.
Sorry for scattered thoughts – my brain is foggy but I am also so excited! Success and breakthroughs are a terrible problem to have… I suppose mine isn’t so bad, since it’s a little diluted by the circumstances, but hey – you have to be there to win, and we showed up. Couple weeks back home now, getting back into some structured training after my weekend warrior race block, and working on my fitness for (hopefully) a redemption race at the Oz Trails Offroad on Thanksgiving weekend.