Silk City Cyclocross 2013 Race Report

Last Saturday the Aetna Silk City Cyclocross race was held, put together by the Expo Wheelmen cycling club in Connecticut.  Held on the Manchester Community College grounds, this was the first race I did, ever–just last year.  It was a tough course then.  Somehow, they made it twice as technical this year.

This time, I arrived with plenty of time and with air in my tires.  I met up with some new friends and chatted a bit before registering and pre-riding.  I have been taking the pre-ride very slow lately, trying to absorb the details of the course and warming up slowly without wasting too much energy.  I was familiar with parts from last year, but they aded some new twists, turns, and treacherous descents.  The dry weather made the course extremely soft and dusty–the earth disintegrated beneath your wheel making control and traction difficult.

We lined up to start.  The Cat 1-2-3 women went a minute before the group of 18 Cat 4s.  On the whistle, I had the best start so far.  I was 4th into the holeshot, and on the first banked turn a women in front of me crashed in the soft dirt.  I narrowly missed her and suddenly I was in third!  Whoohooo!

Well that was short lived.  One by one, they roped me in.  I held a good position for the first lap, but on the second I started to lose ground.  By the third, I had 2 women in my rear view I was fighting to keep a gap.  One attacked without me realizing it and she was beyond me before I knew it.  The last one hung behind me until that last quarter of a lap when she made her move on a technical portion, where we both struggled and she slipped by me.  I was under the impression we had another whole lap to go–I thought I had time to catch her.  But as I crossed the finish line the officials waved “you’re done!” and that was that.  I got to met the women who passed me–she had done the same thing to me with just a 1/4 lap to go at Monson.  We did a warm down together and chatted.  This is the great thing about cyclocross at this level.  The competition is fierce and the racing intense, but the community is so friendly and in the end, it’s all just about the fun.

I felt I gave the race my all, but of course, there are always things to learn.

The Good Stuff:

  • Fantastic start
  • (Mostly) Good remounts

The Bad Stuff:

  • Dismounts are too slow and awkward (still)
  • Run ups too slow
  • High degree of fatigue, causing huge gaps in my lap times from best to worst (3 minutes difference).

During this race, I experienced such an intensity of effort I tasted bile.  For a time, I felt my arms and face tingle with numbness.  I focused hard on pedaling on the straights and the flats and not resting, which left me spent for the hills, off-camber turns, log and barrier jumping, and bike handling in the soft rutted earth in the woods. One portion on the course was so technical many of us opted to dismount and run.   So with every lap, I was off the bike 6 times.  Heartbreak hill, a climbing turn shortly after the hill, the log jump, the it’s-so-technical-here-I’m-just-going-to-shoulder-the-bike-and-run section, another mini step and log run up, and finally, the barriers.  That’s a lot of off the bike time for a bike race.

I wasn’t thrilled with my end result, which was 11th of 18 starters.  16 finished.  I had hoped for 9th, at least.  I’m going to need to increase my stamina and speed to claw my way up a couple more spots.  But on the bright side, last year I was 2nd to last.  This year I was closer to the middle.

This weekend:  Gloucester.


PS–no pics of this one, but here are some pro photos in case you’d like to see some of the fun.


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About Karen

Mid-life female amateur athlete focused on cyclocross, mountain biking, and road cycling.

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