The Cycle Smart International is always a tough race for me. In part this due to the course; very fast and dry, with sunny weather and cloudless skies. It is also scheduled in between some exhausting travel. This year was no exception and I was not pleased with the end result of the weekend. I really had to shake it off to get ready for the USGP the following weekend in New Jersey.
Despite working and racing full time I’ve always found it hard to cut myself some slack when I have an off race and this was no exception. It seems the cycling media doesn’t cut you much more slack either. One week you’re the next big thing and then you’re scraping bottom of the who’s who list! There’s only one other rider (RW) I know in the Elites that works as much and cuts herself even less slack. We often we find ourselves nodding empathetically at the dark circles under one another’s eyes at the start line.
Despite being unable to secure financial support this season keeping us close to home rather than traveling to bigger races, we’ve managed an incredibly successful campaign this year. Here are the stats for this season so far:
Currently leading the US National points calendar
Current UCI World ranking, 13th
Currently leading the Verge New England Series
Currently leading the MAC Series
80 hours of training/racing
139 massages given
556 sheets and pillowcases washed
I can’t even begin to tally the 50-plus hour/week average Matt spends in the lab getting a PhD, the ridiculous number of bike washes he has done or the endless hours standing in the basement maintaining the bikes!
We’re feeling pretty blessed to have such full lives, even when the candle is burning at both ends and some days we just want to pull the covers over our heads and sleep in.
Saturday was cold and windy and as expected, the course was very dry and fast with one steep run up, one big sandpit and lots of fast pedaling. As I was warming up my parents arrived with a surprise visit from Vermont to watch the race!
The start was fast and I was feeling fatigued from the last several weeks of racing, training and working, but I hung on the leaders for the first lap before slipping out on a tight corner and then dangling alone in third for a while. In the next lap I was caught by two other riders and we worked together for a bit before two of us broke away. I spent the remainder of the race on the tail of third place until I crashed in the sandpit and filled my shifters with grit. I was unable to shift properly and had to take a bike change in the last lap. After that I was unable to close the gap back to third and took fourth place.
The bad news of the day came when a UCI official collided with a racer and had to be hospitalized with life threatening injuries. Find our more information on Harry Lam’s recovery.
If I felt fatigued the day before, I hit a new low on Sunday. We both had a terrible night’s sleep in the hotel and woke up tired and bleary eyed. The weather was sunny and much warmer. The perfect autumn day cruelly beckoned us to put a blanket in the sun for a nap. But, there was a race to be had, so no blanket, no nap.
My warmup felt pretty good, but I could tell that I wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked. I also made the choice to ride different tires after slipping on one of the corners the day before. Unfortunately in the end, I think I made the wrong choice and it could have contributed to my feeling very flat during the race.
I had another strong start and was in third heading into the sand and slipped as I got off my bike to run rather than ride the sand. This set me back into 6th or 8th place and I had to quickly get myself back into a better position. After expending more energy than I had, I settled into fourth for a while before getting passed and riding alone until two more riders bridged up to me. I spent the remainder of the race wishing I were on that blanket in the sun napping. I felt pretty terrible all around and although I could make up small amounts of time on the few technical sections, I was not making up any time on the wide-open flat sections and took 7th for the day, disappointed and exhausted.
The good news is that I was able to keep the lead in the Verge New England Series. After a solid rest week, I should be feeling back to racing strong just in time for next week’s USGP Mercer Cup featuring a field bigger and tougher than Nationals!
Thanks for reading.
Check out videos from the weekend here:
CyclingDirt - Day1
CyclingDirt - Day2
Many thanks to Lyne at Podium Insight for this great article as well:
Cyclingnews.com - Day1
Cyclingnews.com - Day2
Velonews - Day1
Velonews - Day2
Cyclocross Magazine - Day1
Cyclocross Magazine - Day2
MM Racing 2009 Calendar of Events:
11/21+11/22 NACT Whitmore’s Super Cup Southampton, NY
11/28+11/29 Baystate Cyclocross Sterling, MA
12/5+12/6 USGP Stanley Cup Portland, OR
12/12+12/13 USA National Championships Bend, OR