Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cross is back! My favorite race season of allll. Last fall the ABRA CX series kick-started my 'official' race scene career. Before cx, the only races I was doing were the DIY Pittsburgh alley cats (I still nurse a soft spot in my heart for Brad Q and
Alex loses a shoe
- photo by Cassie Fetzer
Erok's punk rock Halloween cats). Despite many mid-race mechanicals, I managed to win the beginner women's series and upgrade by the end of the year, as well as reel in some racing in DC and Ohio. I was totally hooked, and I wanted to drag other city-rat women riders along with me. Over the past year I've been hyping every female cyclist I know up on the sport, and when Kick-Off CX finally finally rolled around I towed down a couple newbs and showed em the ropes. We arrived super early to check out the course, and boy were their faces priceless when they saw the no-longer-anywhere-close-to-dry mud pit slop-fest run-up JR engineered coming out the woods. Alex was racing on a borrowed bike (thanks KJordan!) and flat pedals with sneakers, and she stared at the slippy mud climb in shock for a good minute. She would later lose a shoe to the suck mid-race. 

I had made sure to register all the way back in February, hah, so I had first pick of spots at the line up for my first ABRA 1/2/3 race. I normally get a strong start to the hole shot and today was no exception, but the caliber of ladies around me was impressive and I was dropped off the lead pretty quickly. I ended up racing neck to neck with my teammate
Women's 3/4 podium
Stephanie Lamb. I've been riding a ton of miles for the National Bike Challenge this year, and just started mountain biking this summer to work on my technical skills, but I could tell by watching her lines that Lamb had the experience over me. She dropped a gap on me in the pinwheel and I just couldn't quite make it up on the final sprint. It's obvious that I'll be learning a lot from racing with her this year, which I'm totally stoked about. I've got plenty of strong experienced dude friends who race and are free flowing with advice, but there's something really valuable about being able to learn from someone who actually races your field. So, congrats Stephanie! Be ready for me to glom onto your wheel all season ;)


ABRA cheering section
I caught back up with my cat 4 lady friends after the
race. Elise R podiumed of course, Alex completely annihilated her goal of not finishing dead last, and Elise W nailed her first race with a 7/16 finish on her commuter bike (complete with a rack and comfy Brooks saddle…she DID take the fenders off though!). My teammates Nikki and Kara also got a first cx race under their belts, and looked like they had a lot of fun doing it. Now that our morning race was out of the way, we gleefully revved up for the real reason we were there for the day: cheering and jeering the men's races! …If there was a podium for cx spirit, we all would have been on it. 

I climbed back onto my bike for the brand new women's 3/4 race JR added to the end of the day. I am so over-the-moon about this field; it gives most of the women who show up the opportunity to do a second race, adds a later slot that out-of-towners could easily make (lookin' at you Cleveland), and means the stronger cat 4 women can seed up and out of the beginner class. Not to mention, it pays out equal to the men's field! Everyone loves them some podium ca$$$h!! Ultra thanks to JR for being proactive about women's racing :) This time around I maintained a good gap between two Stephanies - Sydlik ahead of me and Lamb behind. 
Just a little mud
I finished in second, rolling through the finish line hand in hand with my teammate Jeff G, racing the men's 3/4 field. Gee, I wish I had a picture of that, but you'll just have to recreate the cute in your imaginations. After the podiums I cleaned up and packed up, jumped in my carpool and headed out to Maryland with Elise R and David G for Hyattsville CX the next day. It was another gruelingly muddy course. I started about mid pack, based on the points I picked up at my few MABRA races last year, and got clogged up in the start. But, I passed more people than passed me, and finished 8/32. Not horrible for a third race of the weekend. Later I realized, as a bonus, it means I just managed a start-line call-up at MABRA#2, Schooley Mill CX. I'm looking forward to seeing how well I climb through the ranks of MABRAland. It's going to be an exhausting season :D

Thanks to Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team powered by Pathfinder for pulling me on board for this cx season (and beyond!), to Swiftwick for all the socks I mucked up this weekend, Cannondale for swapping out my cracked helmet, ProGold because I always have a stash when I need it, ABRA for throwing the best races, and all our other sponsors! (Especially Honey Stinger, dang I wish I'd had some of *those* stashed away). 

See ya next weekend!
-ALK