Race Report: Trek CX Cup

8:25 PM

Yah, that's right, I'm so fast I'm riding off the picture...
The USGP of Cyclocross is no more, but thankfully local organizers have been stepping in to keep the races running.  For my season this meant that the Planet Bike Cup in Sun Prairie moved down the road about 10 miles to the Trek headquarters in Waterloo, WI and was rechristened the Trek CX Cup.  A new course, a new title sponsor, but hopefully the same fun race I have used to open my season for the past two years. 

It turns out that call-ups were pretty much based on your registration order, so because of my hyper-organized Spouse I got a front line spot in a race of about 40 category 2-3 women.  Since I also brought a lingering sinus infection with me to Wisconsin, I figured I would take any advantage available to keep the fitter/healthier riders behind me longer.  Though I was disappointed to be showing up sick and coughing, I knew that I was only at about 80% so there was no need for lofty goals to start my season.

Day One
The whistle blew, and we were off down a short straightaway, through a couple of 90-degree turns and onto the first grass section.  My front row start kept me from the usual pile-up that happened when we hit the first 180 – I didn’t see it, but I could definitely hear the mess behind me.  The first lap was great, because I was able to hit all the technical sections with only about 5 women in front of me as the rest of the ladies got themselves organized behind.  I navigated the sketchy and steep downhill sections with ease as others slid out and I made it through the congested areas with no elbows required.

By the end of the second lap my ragged lungs became an issue as I fought for breath.  You can actually see it in my splits – the third of six laps was my slowest as I started to feel the race slip away from me (and more and more women charged by).  In the fourth lap I accepted that I just wasn’t capable of any heroic attacks and settled in to go as hard as my angry lungs would allow.  I got a few spots back as riders made mistakes, and finished a strong mid-pack, and even beat a few category two women.  (Ugh…when I signed up for the race in August “mid-pack” was not my goal…)

Day Two
You thought I started with low expectations on day one?  As I stood on the line on day two I reminded myself: "I can quit at any time…"

With my sore lungs and now sore legs, I decided day two was all about consistency…and my lap times ended up being pretty consistent.  I got a good workout and finished in exactly the same spot as day one (we’ll just ignore the fact that the overall field was smaller than day one). 

Weekend Review
So, how did the reinvented Trek CX Cup compare to the Planet Bike Cup?  On the whole, it was a great weekend.  Trek stepped up and got matching prize money for the women, so the pros were treated to a well-run race that was worth their time and effort.  It would have been great if the organizers could have leaned on Trek rider Katie Compton (and future Trek star Sven Nys) and had them make an appearance, but the rest of the top American riders were all in attendance.  The venue had convenient parking, and great food available from the Market Street Diner. 

The course was shorter than the old venue, but I actually liked it better.  The Sun Prairie course had quite a few open flat sections that favored the power riders, while Waterloo offered more in twisty turns and technical elements.  Though there wasn't much elevation change, the varying terrain suited my strengths.

Worth the weekend away?  Definitely.  I've got a whole season of racing the same small group of women ahead of me - it is always nice to start off amidst a bunch of strangers where no comparisons can be made.  And they also served good beer!

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