The 2013 Cyclocross season may be almost over, but there’s still plenty of heart pounding excitement remaining, including the upcoming Canadian Nationals at the Surrey Athletic Park on November 30th. This past Saturday was the final chance for local riders to put their training to the test before the coming weekend’s big race. Hosted by the Vancouver Cross Coalition at Aldergrove Lake in Abbotsford, the final Vancouver race of the season drew some of Canada’s top racers, including Mikal Dyck (reigning National Cyclocross Champion), Sandra Walter (reigning BC Cyclocross Champion and Canada Cup Mountain Bike Champion), and Catherine Pendrel (2012 Cross Country World Champion).
The Aldergrove Lake course favours the racer with power, and with its lack of technical features, does not cater to my strengths as I’ve learned from racing here before. Despite the challenge to remain motivated to finish the race, it was a good opportunity to work on my weak areas for Nationals. Scott McGregor, also racing for Steed, also found himself struggling with motivation – I offered to share my home-made brownies with him, but only if he finished the race.
The race began with a fast gravel stretch into a climb, followed by a winding descent. Choosing a competent wheel to start behind can make or break your race when it is only 40 minutes long. I lined up behind Mikal, hoping to benefit from her quick start. The gun fired and my choice paid off, giving me a 5th place position going into the descent. A good start for me, but not ideal coming into the only technically challenging part of the course, a short climb that would be either a ride up or run up depending on your skill level on a cross bike. Following Christine, a very strong rider, was a good wheel to be on, but just as the three leaders began the technical climb, Christine came off her bike. Those of us behind her were thus forced to get off and run up as well. Such is racing! With the field now split, the battle for 4th place had begun.
The course demanded high output, with few opportunities to recover. A very steep climb up a grassy hill zapped the legs every lap while the descents tested my confidence to let the brakes go. After a few laps, I found my motivation. Morgan Cabot, new to cyclocross, but an accomplished road racer was on my wheel. She was relentless on every climb and power section, pushing me to the limit. My only card to play was riding the short technical uphill which she had to run, not much of an advantage. Every corner and every climb I could see her coming for me. She was having a phenomenal race and I had to keep telling myself to keep the pedals turning.
I lost count of the number of laps I raced, but it seemed really long and holding Morgan off each lap got harder and harder as the pain was increasing each lap from the climbing. I used to think there were no hills in cross until I raced the world cup in Lievin, France. Who knew!
Jordan Masse, Steed Cycles Service Manager, for getting my bike in top shape for the race.
Scott McGregor, for kindly lending me his carbon wheel for the rest of the season as mine didn’t make it.
Paul McCarthy, for the door to door service to the races this year.
The entire Steed Cycles cross team for being so awesome and motivating.
Good Luck to all this weekend!