I think I might finally be getting this cyclocross thing down, well sort of. Enough anyway. Going into Granogue I was not very nervous, which was a huge change from last year’s constant ball of nerves. The weather was perfect, the course was really great, and I managed my most dramatic finish since Rockburn in 2012. And added bonus: the race was a mere 10 miles from my parents’ house, so they joined in on the day.
I didn’t have a great start, but unlike many of my races last year, there were plenty of women in sight the entire time, making it easier to work my way up through the field. The course was really fun with difficult climbs, swoopy off-camber sections, some rocks and roots, and then more climbs. I struggled with the off-camber remounts after both the barriers and the run-up. The remount after the run-up was particularly difficult for me. As it is, I struggle with remounts when my bike is next to me. When it is several inches higher than usual because I am on the side of a hill, it gets much trickier. I spotted a few clever women dismounting on the right so they could remount on the uphill side. Great idea, but I am far too one-sided for that.
A woman I had passed caught me on this dreaded run-up, but I was able to pass back on the next section (providing valuable insight for later in the race). I worked my way up and passed another woman and made a pretty good gap, but through the last lap, both women were closing in on me. I suspected they might catch me on the run-up which was very close to the finish. They did catch me, but it was ok, because I had a plan.
I was right behind them coming out of the run-up. Part of me wonders if I subconsciously let them catch me here because I wanted an exciting finish. As the hill leveled out, there was a turn on the grass that soon changed to the paved road to the finish. I clipped in, and as soon as the hill leveled out, I downshifted like crazy and started to sprint early. I planned to pass on the grass to minimize the effects drafting and hopefully get a gap before we hit the super fast road section. As I pulled up next to the woman ahead, I almost chickened out and dropped back, thinking I could sprint around her at the finish. That thought didn’t last, and with a few more pedal strokes, I was around her before we hit the road. From here it was just all out, about as hard as I have ever ridden a bike in my life. I had no idea what spot I was sprinting for, but I could hardly care. It looked something like this.
It turns out we were fighting for 8th place and the last place in the money. However, you would never be able to tell that we were nowhere near the podium from that photo or from the 10,000 pictures of that finish that ended up on my facebook page. But even still, this was by far my best result in an Elite cross race to date. As soon as I saw my parents my mom said, “You just had to make that dramatic didn’t you?” I am glad I was able to be entertaining for them, because so few of my races are really that fun to watch. I hope it made up for the last time they came to one of my races and I crashed on my face and came in last.
Another benefit to having your parents at a race is all the fun pictures they take: