Another great turnout for the final weekend of the ChiCrossCup at Montrose Harbor! A near capacity field of just under 100 4A riders lined up for the challenging course that had a little bit of everything... hills, technical sections, long straight-aways, and of course lots of sand and mud! Just as I have been gaining confidence and was ready for a great finish to end the year, I was humbled by the course and finished a disappointing 30th.
A few small things really got me out of rhythm, coupled with some strategic errors and a little bad luck reminded me quickly that I am still new to the sport. Between the mud and sand packing into my cleats, I had all kinds of problems clipping into my pedals after each remount. This problem got in my head as all I could think of was having to ride this way, rather than keeping focus on the race at hand. It took a while before I figured out an effective way to rap my shoes on the pedals, clearing just enough debris to clip in. Also on the first couple laps I attempted to ride sections that were simply beyond my abilities and lost positions to others that took a more conservative approach by running through the same sections. Over the middle of the race I was able to pick up a number of spots and was closing in on a top-20 finish. With about 1/2 lap to go I dropped the chain and lost close to 10 positions while trying to get it back on.
Whew! What a race! After having sometime to reflect, I am confident most of the errors and misfortune can be overcome with more experience. Although this is the race we would like to have our best performance, and I am disappointed with my finish, I can use it to measure where I am and where I need to be to compete with the riders on the front line. I am confident with an off-season of quality training, another year of experience, some CX-specific training, and learning from other more experienced riders on the team that expectations for next season will be high! I know I have a lot to learn, but that also means I have a lot of room for improvement! I'm exciting already for next season!