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Lion’s Cross

Lion Cross, held at Port Coquitlam’s Lions Park twisted and wound its way around the small park in a maze of tape. Sitting on my trainer warming up for my race, I watch the future stars of cyclocross ripping it up on course. Of course I am referring to the U13 and U15 youth.  It’s amazing to see these young athletes, in some cases, showing up the adults. Cyclocross is amazing in the way that it brings friends and families together for day of fun and racing.

tessa-and-kelly

My memories of this course are not fond as I broke my collarbone here a few years ago. A stick caught in my wheel as I accelerated out of a corner, abruptly bringing my bike to a stop, while I was pitched forward and slammed into the ground. The chance of this happening twice is slim to none, but before I race here, I meticulously comb the course for potential dangers (sticks) and remove them.

Although the course was satisfactorily cleared, it was still a rough day of racing for me. My start was my regular, not fast off the gun, start. Near the back of the pack rounding the first corner, I pedalled hard to make my way up through the ranks, only to have my chain drop off after coming through the barriers. I tried to ride it back on, adjusting the shifting, but it wouldn’t catch. I had to stop to manually put it on, fumbling as my gloves kept getting caught in the chain.

By the time I was back on my bike, everyone I had passed had gone by me. I had my work cut out for me if I had any hope for a podium finish.  I slowly gained places, moving into 4th behind Marnie and Stacey with Maggie ahead and Sandra way off the front.  Speaking of future stars of cyclocross, Maggie, riding with the Elite women, is only 14 years old!

Stacey, Marnie and I agreed we must catch Maggie.  We worked briefly together then a gap formed behind me. I was feeling pretty good and decided it was time to go.  I finally caught Maggie and went for the pass. I encourage her to stick on my wheel as Stacey would surely be chasing.  She stuck to my wheel like glue, matching every move. I was not able to shake her.  I rounded the snow covered corner (brought in just for today from a local ice rink) and took myself out. Maggie manoeuvred around me and took the lead. She was on fire, and once again I was on the chase. I dug really deep, as pride was on the line, and managed to catch her again. I edged past a second time and managed to hold her off for second place. Sandra ran away with first today.

Lion Cross 2013

What an awesome battle! Thanks Maggie! I hope cyclocross gives you as much as it has given me.

 

Binab Property Group GP

What a way to spend Thanksgiving Day! Good friends, spectacular weather, and some of the finest cross racing in BC. The big turnout was a record for attendance.

Rider: Kelly Jones  /   Photo: Scott Robarts

Rider: Kelly Jones / Photo: Scott Robarts

Last year this event was a month later, and it was cold, wet, and some might say miserable (if you are not a true cross racer!). This year, the sun was shining, the mud was minimal, but the course offered a whole new set of challenges. Like last year, racing kicked-off with a mass start, giving everyone a fair chance to show who has the best cross start. Clearly, not me, but what fun! Note to self, work on start.

The organizers didn’t let the pleasant weather take away from the challenge of the track; creative elements and high/low risk course options kept racers on their toes and added extra entertainment for spectators.. First up – take the fast line over a gap jump, or the slow choice through a series of barriers. Knowing that all the women I race against would choose the jump, I had to put all my fears and my love of keeping my wheels on the ground aside to keep in the mix. My first attempt during warm-up on my “B” bike landed short, my rear wheel casing hard, and I was really worried about the consequences of landing my carbon wheels the same way.

The first lap came, I sprinted to the jump and to my surprise, I floated over the jump and into the next corner. Awesome feeling! Quickly after the jump, my next decision, the right line or the left through the tire maze. I chose the right option, which turned out to be slower as I discovered in later laps.

The center of the course presented its own challenges with a very steep flyover, lots of tight twisty sections, and power road sections. Last in the line up was a steep climb into the motocross track where my arms were wishing I had done some push ups sometime during my training this year. The dry braking bumps were relentless and with 2 laps to go, my arms wanted to stop riding.

With one lap to go, I was managing to hold off my friend Joele. She was only behind me due to an unscheduled bike change. I gave everything I had to keep her at bay and thought I had managed it until I came through the finish and the lap board still said 1 to go. Not sure if I still had a lap, I kept riding knowing full well I had burned all my matches on the last, last lap.

Joele and I had a brief discussion as to whether we actually still had a lap to go. We decided if nothing else, it would be a good training lap and it was game on again. I managed to hold her until the 2nd to last corner on the motocross track where she finally found the sweet line and passed me on the inside sprinting to the finish ahead of me. What an awesome battle. I finished 7th behind Joele. Carey Mark, also riding for Steed, landed a podium finish in 4th place. Congrats Carey!

You always think that you have done the right training and then life throws you a curve ball. Although I have had a slow start to the season, I am looking forward to racing myself into fitness and loving every minute of it. Hopefully, I will still be able to meet my goal of a better finish than last year at Nationals.

Thanks to my sponsor Steed Cycles for their support and for putting together an awesome group of people that love cylcocross as much as I do.  North Shore Sports Medicine for getting me through an early season injury. Also big thanks to all of our other sponsors:  Giro, Sugoi, Giant, Bean Around the World, and Roberts Composites for their support.