What a weekend! So many ups and downs.
Rockland County Supercross. Flash back to 2013, the year of the BITTER COLD!! Last year this was the coldest race of the year by far. Temperatures were in the single digits at night and the wind chill didn’t help. Early races featured parkas. I wore bare legs day 1 to make day 2 seem warmer. Most people never left their cars except for to race. While everyone else was maybe slowed by the cold, I maintained my steady chug that was so consistent last year and pulled off my best UCI results of the season, 18th and 14th. What did that mean for my expectations this year? As I stated before, I expected to do well, and I expected for a bitter cold that my hands would never recover from.
GOOD NEWS! The best possible outcomes of my expectations were realized! I did well and it was NOT bitter cold!!! Saturday felt damp and chilly, long sleeves were necessary but many were debated leg warmers vs embro for the elite races. I went with leg warmers as, I expected to crash quite a bit. The course is known as “technical” and “mountain bikey” because there is a bit of off-camber and quite a bit of root and rock navigation. Furthermore, the ground had been frozen and was thawing throughout the day making it pretty slippery and many of the turns pretty scary for me. It is surprising that I, the watty-unskilled-triathlete, would excel on this course.
When we first got to the course, knowing there hadn’t been appreciable precipitation recently, I threw some FMB slaloms on and headed out for course inspection. Course inspection lap is NOT a lap one crashes on, as they are slow laps in which I walk the technical elements. I slid out three times. I switched to FMB supermuds.
My race day 1 went well! I started unimpressively and rode cautiously in the slippery conditions. Throughout the race I found myself battling with Nikki Thiemann. Poor Nikki. So, you know how there are “learning hospitals” and it’s expected to cringe when you find out a student of new doctor will be taking care of you? Well, bike racing is always a learning experience, and I am totally a student. I may have tried out some aggressive passing techniques that pushed myself and Nikki off of our bikes for a ride-up and one that caused people in the pits to say “booooo”. She was aggravated to say the least. She thought she was finally rid of me after a solid pass at the beginning of the last lap. I thought we were sitting 9-10, and I was content just finishing the lap cleanly. Then, every dream I ever had about the last lap came true. Nikki dropped her chain. I passed her and tried to keep the pace high so she couldn’t catch back on. Then, I learned that I ended up 10th, and she 11th. I wonder if she blames me for knocking her out of the points? But then again, Al once told me that I can never consider myself in someone’s way, because if these people were better than me, they would be in front of me. I do think that I skipped a few grades in the learning process of bike racing, seeing as 27 of my 30 races have been at the elite-level. I don’t want to be the racers that people moan and groan about when then see me in the grid or in a pack near them. I don’t want to be a risk! I know that I will keep making mistakes, maybe costing other people time or places, but I really hope that they are understanding.
Speaking of learning, I think we all know about what happened at the finish of Day 1. My teammate, Ellen Noble, was on the finish stretch in 1st place, and was headed to the line with dreams of her first ever top-step place on a UCI podium. So stoked, she posted up for an easy coast across the line. The mistake? She didn’t look behind her to see Arley Kemmerer hot on her heels, and she got nipped at the line. It was devastating for not only Ellen, but also our team. I don’t blame Arley at all, as I am just learning how to keep racing, take no prisoners and have no pity. There is respect out there on the course, but there is no kowtowing when precious points are on the line, and there is no handing someone a win when you see your opening to take it. Ellen won the course that day, but Arley won the bike race. Ellen was heartbroken, but handled it well. And now she knows to always look back before an early victory, and to always race through the line. Hopefully one day I will see a UCI victory for myself on the other side of that finish line, and hopefully I will have learned from this mistake, that many many have made before.
Day 2, much cleaner race for me. Not cleaner in terms of mud, it was muddier; the power washer got a workout that day. I started fast on day 2, but couldn’t find it in me to keep the pace with the group I was in through the first hill-section (I am still working on my pop-power). I ended up finding a good group, but I got sloppy with my bike handling and knocked my chain off, causing me to lose a few places and some time. I was able to work through that small group and spend a lap bridging from 9th to the group that was 5-8. By the time I got there, 5th place Natasha Elliott had gapped herself up, but I was able to pass into 6th cleanly. The girls I passed didn’t keep their pace, however, as my pass may have reminded them to pedal, and I had to work hard to keep Amanda Carey off of my wheel. Having a slight gap going into the last lap, I slowed down a bit to ensure I rode cleanly, knowing that a wreck or more sloppy bike-work would cost me my place. I was able to stave off disaster and pull off a 6th place victory! My best UCI placing yet!
Thom Parsons of Dirtwire.tv interviewed me after my race. I was kind of nervous and flustered, but you can see the result of that venture here! http://dirtwire.tv/2014/11/becca/
Onwards now to Baystate Cylocross in Sterling, MA and then NBX in Warwick, RI. Then a little bit of a break before NATIONALS! I now have 30 races under my belt, and it seems from crossresults that I may be plateauing. I want this points trend to keep going down!! Also, it seems I need to work on my sprintiness 😉 thanks for the cool data, crossresults.com