Back for another round of cyclocross racing!
After a week of endurance riding in Japan, my aerobic fitness was great, and I’d done just a couple of high intensity training sessions to give me the confidence that I could get through the sustained high intensity of a cyclocross race.
My objectives for the race were to keep focused 100% throughout the race, to improve my consistency in lap times, and maintain intensity throughout the whole race. If I achieved these goals, I would be happy with any results.
There were seven riders in women’s elite. I had a rubbish start, I just wasn’t aggressive enough to push to stay at the front, so I ended up at the back of the pack. Three of the riders quickly took off. However, I was surprised and pleased to see that I was having no trouble sticking with the other three riders. In fact, I probably could’ve gone faster in some corners. I was also faster than the other three riders running through the sand sections.
By the end of the first lap, we had all changed positions. I’d passed two of the riders I was with, but one had gotten away and had a bit of a gap on me. Over the course of the race, I never did quite catch her. However, I did catch and pass one of the other three riders who took off quickly from the start.
However, my main race was with one of the women who I was riding with from the start. I had passed her, and kept in front of her for a few laps. But then she passed me, and I stayed on her tail following her. We switched places a few times – I was faster running through the non-rideable sand and up the hill into the headwind, while she was faster riding through the sand and the technical corners.
About two laps to go, she was in front of me and I was right on her tail. I thought “ok, if I just sit here I know I can pass her on the uphill on the last lap, then hold her off til the finish line”. However, then she started to get away from me a little bit. The gap was only six seconds, but that meant I had to go six seconds faster than her, on an eight minute lap – that is a lot! I think what happened is that when I thought “ok, I just have to sit here and follow her” I started to relax a bit and maybe just lose that slight extra edge. That was all it took for her to create a gap, and in the end the gap was just too big for me to close.
It was a really exciting race, with loads of people cheering us on and great to have riders in front and behind pushing me all the time. I was very happy with my level of focus throughout the race, and my lap times were quite consistent as well – between 7:54 and 8:03, except for one lap at 8:06 – that was the one lap when I marginally relaxed, and the extra 3+ seconds on that lap made the difference between fourth and fifth place!
Huge kudos to the Stuart, Louise and the crew from WA Cyclocross for another super course, grassy and twisty, and in a park in the central suburbs of Perth. Also great to have handups back – thanks Nigel!