Supercross UCI 2018
I went into Supercross knowing that it was going to be messy, but it didn’t really hit me until I was attempting to do a “pre-ride” lap on day 1 of of the event, and could barely pedal through the mud.
The Thursday before the race, most of the Northeast got hit with a snow/ice storm, and we were lucky enough to get the chance to race in melting snow water and the mud that was being created from said snow melt. The temperatures each race day were in the upper 30s to low 40s - perfect for making sloppy cross course conditions.
It’s been an interesting experience, this season, learning how to balance training and racing at a higher level with life and work. I drove up on Saturday, leaving at 4am, to get to Suffern, NY in time to gather myself, check the course out, and warm up without feeling rushed. Maybe not the best idea to drive 6 hours right before a bike race, but, hey, sometimes that’s how it works out, and you give it your all, anyway.
And that’s what I did. Each day of Supercross was full of more running with my bike than riding it. And when we were riding our bikes, there were no brakes to help us out on some of the steeper descents - the brake pads were worn away from the grit in the mud pretty much after the 1st lap. Foot out flat out was the motto for those descents, I guess. It was a good time sending it with no brakes down those muddy hills.
The first day, I had a great start, only to lose that when there was a crash right in front of me about a minute in. But I fought on. After that, the rest of the race was a battle against the mud, my frozen feet, and my bike. My chain dropped 4 times during that race from the mud icing my chainrings over, and it was SO hard each time to get it back on; costing me more spots each time. My fingers were completely numb, and I was so frustrated to feel great in a race only to not have my bikes cooperate.
The mud was up to our knees each day, on a lot of the course. My greatest weakness of this race was being able to run with my bike through the mud with frozen feet. It was so challenging, and took everything I could muster to keep pushing, even when I wasn’t sure what my feet were actually doing.
I was pleased to finish on the lead lap of Saturday’s race, but I was also a little disappointed to have placed 22nd, and not in the top 20. I kept my attitude positive though, because I knew that another day of racing lay ahead, and I had another chance to prove myself.
When I finally got to my hotel room that night, I ate my dinner in bed, and didn’t leave the bed for the rest of the night. I was so tired. The 4am wake up, drive, the race, the cold, and scrambling to find replacement brake pads had taken a bit of a toll on me. Little did I know how much more challenging the next day’s race was going to be.
Sunday’s race course was set in reverse, with worsening conditions, and even more running than the day before. I had a difficult time warming up for this race. The temperatures were cooler and the humidity higher, so it felt even colder than it actually was. And as I waited to line up on the start line, I felt doubt creeping in. Not a great feeling, when you’re trying to race your best. I just didn’t feel right, or ready for what was about to happen, even with already having gone through the same race scenario the day before. I pushed that feeling away as best I could and stuck it all out there on the course.
I was fighting for the last few positions in the top 20 when my chain dropped on the third lap. It took forever to get the chain to stay on. I got pulled from the race, and placed 21st overall. The disappointment I felt was overwhelming. But that’s how racing goes sometimes, and you have to work through it, learn from it, and improve on it.
Through the whole weekend I had a wonderful support system of fellow women racers and friends from the Vanderkitten and CXHairs Devo teams. My two closest compadres, Libbey and Alex, had a stellar 2nd day of racing. Alex got her first UCI points, and Libbey placed 11th, with her best overall finish ever! I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received from those wonderful people and from Rocktown Bicycles. They help me to remember to have fun and push myself when things get tough.
Cyclocross Nationals is in a few weeks, and I’m using everything I have experienced and learned this season to get myself ready for this event. I’m very, very excited to be participating in the Women’s Elite race, and hope to have a great time. Right now I’m just working on getting my two bikes back together without mud all over them. :)
Happy riding! - Kelly