I’ve never been so unprepared. I showed up at Tuesday Night Cross (TNC) in Minneapolis, MN with my cyclocross bike. The bike was perfect, and I felt like my fitness was great. But I lacked essentials: mental will and skills.
I had ridden my cross bike a few times at the river bottoms in MN (my favorite place to ride – it’s beauty is unbelievable – See Picture To Left), however I hadn’t worked on CX skills. And TNC is all skills. The course is wide open with no place to hide. There were two straight sections, lots of technical switchbacks, and a few barriers. ITU’s use of the word “technical” made this course seem impossible.
Pre-race I rode two laps of the course and was almost in tears. I’m a bit clumsy and had fallen down a flight of stairs earlier that week causing a huge bruise on my hip. I was scared of falling on the bruise and was having trouble with the switchbacks. I knew I wasn’t prepared and knew this would be an embarrassment. I had a conversation with myself – I kept saying I couldn’t do it, however I knew it was more that I wouldn’t. I had to make a choice: swallow my pride and race, or walk away.
I decided to race, however, I wasn’t mentally in it. I was scared of falling, and weary. The race started and I killed the straight sections. Then the technical sections started. I’d dismount, hop the barrier, and attempt to mount….minutes later the field was ahead of me. I’d sprint only to get passed again. It was humiliating. I finished the race reluctant, knowing I need more work. The only way I would improve my bike handling skills and power was to continue CX.
A few days later, I headed to Cable, WI, to watch Chequamegon. It was an awesome experience. The serenity in Cable reset and rejuvenated my mind and body. My boyfriend, Patrick, his dad, and I stayed with Denis Kruse (in the yellow jersey below). His cabin is incredible, and his generosity remarkable. His house was full of entertaining, fun personalities. I could listen to Steve Tilford and Denis talk all night!
Almost everyone in the house raced; but I was a spectator. The athletes were incredible – fellow Olympian Lea Davison was racing in the women’s field. We met after the race and were having a great time with the Little Bellas, until she asked me about my CX experience. Apparently word travels fast!
Heading back to MN, I know I need to do things I don’t want to, such as CX. It’s not going to be an easy journey, but I’m excited to improve. Next, I will be racing the WTS race in Yokohama and the WTS finale in Auckland.