This past Saturday, I kicked off my 2015 cyclocross season at the Luray CX race. I've been looking forward to cyclocross pretty much since I found out months ago that Nationals would be on the east coast, in Asheville, NC.
Luray is a great event. This year was very different from last year. Last year was a cool, dry, beautiful fall day. This year was even better. It was cold, rainy, and muddy; everything you could hope for in a 'cross race.
This race held a few 'firsts' for me. It was my first race on my new Specialized Crux CX1, and it was also my first race in the Women's Cat 1, 2, 3. I was both excited and nervous for what this new category would have in store.
The bike couldn't have performed any better. The disk brakes were amazing, the tires tore the grass up, and the shifting was excellent. It was definitely an improvement from racing on my mountain bike.
The course started on a gravel path and then veered right into the grass, through a dip full of mud. The woman who placed first got ahead of everyone after that turn and we never saw her again. She is an amazing racer on the Pepper Palace pro women's team. They'll be racing in the Team Time Trial at World's next week!
For the rest of the first lap, the two other women and I stuck together, going back and forth in placement. As we were coming in to start the 2nd lap, I saw my opportunity to pass both women on the downhill back onto the gravel path. They were never far behind after that, and so for the remainder of the race I never let up, always aware that if I messed up, that would be an opportunity for one of them to pass. My average heart rate was an amazing 198bpm, with a max of 205bpm. I was definitely putting in a huge effort! (link to my Strava HERE)
The mud was insane, dirty, and a total blast to go through as fast as possible. There were uphills where wheels would spin out and it would take so much effort to not unclip, and there were downhills where you played with the line of speed vs sliding out. My favorite part of the course was a S-turn set up on a steep hill. There was so much slick mud that you had to make sure not to lose too much speed and get the right line or you'd end up riding straight into the course pole/tape. I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to make it through every turn without putting a foot down.
We completed 4 laps total in about 40 minutes. Each lap was more muddy and more fun than the previous. I definitely recommend this event to anyone looking for a fun time. It was very well organized and there were people cheering and heckling the whole time. It was a great way to start off my season! I can't wait for the next race!