Minnesota State Cyclocross Championships - Race Report

8:29 PM


The balancing act...
I went into the Minnesota State Cyclocross Championship weekend with only two objectives: have fun, and race in the moment.  The season hasn’t come together like I wanted (as the Spouse said, “I would have liked to see how your season went without asthma…”), but he MN CX Championships are always a fun race not matter where you are in the field. 

The course is pretty technical with lots of off-camber twisty turns, a massive sand-pit that people love to heckle you through, and then there is the mother of all run-ups.  Gathered around a deteriorating set of stairs made from railroad ties is a massive tunnel of drunken revelers supplied with cow bells, noisemakers, popcorn, beer, dollar bills, and homemade whiskey. 

When the whistle blew everyone jumped off the line in a fast start – is there an award for the last place in the hole-shot?  Because I got it! 

I wasn’t too concerned because it is easy to pass people through the twisty turns and sand pit.  We hit the wall of sound at the run-up and the crowd went crazy as we awkwardly scrambled through the woods.  I felt awesome, until we came out of the tunnel of people and I realized I had burned a match in all the chaos.  Things started to stretch out on the back half of the lap, and the grind of the race started in earnest.

The laps were long – the race was only five laps (we usually do about eight).  By the time I came around to the run-up on lap three I did something that surprised even myself.  I started looking around for dollars, and then I saw a guy holding out a large cup of liquid.  “Beer!” I thought as I made a grab for it.  As I threw it down my throat two things happened simultaneously: the crowd went nuts, and I discovered it was decidedly not beer. 

“A girl’s gotta hydrate!” I heard as I remounted my bike at the top.

From there the race got better (no, not because of the hand-up…what with running the stairs and balancing my bike on my back, not much of it actually made it in me…) – I was racing in the moment.  With every lap my focus was on the racers in front of me, not who might be catching up to me.  I found great lines through the corners, and entered every feature with confidence.  Every section of the course was an opportunity to go harder.  And then the run-up would come around again and the insane crowd would pump me up for one more go-around on the course. 

Place wasn’t important – I was racing the ultimate double: having fun and going deep.  And then…surprise!...I got third!

MN CX Championships Day Two

Yep, they pack two days of racing into the championship weekend.  Day One is all about the category races, while day two is age-based.  Since my age-group (masters women 35+) includes a national champion and pretty much every category 1 and 2 woman in the state, day two was more about racing as a team. 

Two other teammates and I raced together and had a blast.  Each of us had a section of the course we were better at, and we would lead each other through the lines.  I owned the downhill 180s, while my teammates navigated the asphalt to ice/mud to asphalt transitions with ease and the clued me into a better line before the mini-barriers (seriously, why is the most difficult part of the course the 4-inch barriers…lame).  I know cyclocross is not a team sport, but it was still fun to ride hard with my friends. 

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