Kathy Sherwin reports on USGPCX #3 and #4 – Fort Collins, CO

After getting back from the “Cyclocross stage race” (UT to NV to UT to WA to MI to WI and home in 12 days) I was pretty worked. I sat around a good amount and just overall felt like I had been hit by a Mac truck. I didn’t train much during that time because I thought at one point I was getting sick. Luckily I never did. After squeezing in a few appointments in between my couch surfing I found myself packing up for the Fort Collins Cyclocross races. Luckily I didn’t have to deal with my beautiful Ridley cyclocross bikes because Dave and Travis at Pioneer S & M took them to CO for me from WI. Good thing because packing bikes, although easy, is not on my Top 10 BEST Things to Do list. Thanks guys!
I hopped on a plane for Denver and before I knew it we were landing. Gotta love 1hr 30min gate to gate airplane time. Stan’s NoTubes Elite Cyclocross Team Manager, Shannon was there at the airport with all our bikes along with every last detail needed for a team pit area and we headed up to Fort Collins under the shining 60 degree sun to pre-ride the course.
Once at the Fort Collins race course Alex Vining, Team Mechanic was on my bikes immediately making sure everything was in working order before I headed out on a pre-ride. Alex is so great and so excited to be working on bikes and it shows!
The Fort Collins course is unlike most cyclocross courses I have done across the US in that it sits on the side of a hill. That means there were quite a few climbs! They also threw in a tiny run up and a nice fly over with stairs on one side and a ramp on the other which made for a true playground.
Because we don’t know how to stop or slow down….after pre-riding the course we met our host, Randy for the first time and our team all went to housing “cleaned up” quick and headed to the numbers ceremony…and oh yeah…got a burrito quick on the way over too. It was finally nice to sit but that wasn’t too long lasting because after the numbers ceremony we headed to get groceries and get the rest of the necessities like beer, wine, chocolate and coffee!! Ok, now it was time to take a chill pill, relax, grab a shower and get ready for the race the next day. At least it was only 9pm by now. Ugh.
We woke up Saturday to rain showers galore which I am all for, especially with my new Showers Pass raingear. The coolest thing about rain coming over night is that we are running Kenda clincher cyclocross tires and a tire change is just a lever away! After we threw some coffee down Alex he got right to work changing all of our NoTubes Alpha rims to have mudder Kenda Kwicker tires – we were going to need them!
On days like these you can’t get to the race early enough because you will always find something to do whether dealing with muddy bikes or muddy clothes. Somehow my pre race time was down to nothing and I needed to go to the start. I really need to learn to NOT dink around.
I swear one of the most excruciating parts of the race is when you are standing there in just your skin suit in the cold 40 degree weather waiting patiently for the gun to go off. You can train for pain on a bike by knowing what to expect when you hit that self induced pain but standing on the start in the cold is not something you train for and my body was not happy. I felt like it was revolting since it was one of the first “cold” races of the season. I will look back and laugh at this post when I am racing in 20 degree weather in a few months!
All in all I had a solid race on Saturday. I got off to a great start after a 2nd row call up. The track was muddy and the conditions were downright FUN. My Kenda Kwicker Tires were plowing through everything and hooking up around the off camber muddy tight corners. It is so nice to have such confidence in a tire!! I found myself at one point behind Katerina and Katie in 3rd but perhaps I put too much of an effort to get there because I slipped back to 9th by the end with only seconds separating the girls ahead. Still happy with a Top 10 result!
That evening was mayhem which it usually is after a muddy race. We were all up to about 11pm working on something. Alex and Kenny were on bikes, Shannon was trying to make a fake “Nina Baum meal” for all of us (which was amazing!), Jake was being sent on store runs to get stuff we forgot to get the night before and I was on laundry duty with the muddiest team clothing you have ever seen. I had to do some loads twice even after a pre rinse in the sink that I had to then clean too – ugh!! It takes a village and luckily we have a great Stan’s NoTubes village!!!! We also need to thank Randy our host for a GREAT place to stay. Randy bent over backwards for us and was very accommodating. Hopefully we didn’t scare him off too much with all our mud and bike talk.
Sunday’s race was totally different. Dry, sunny, warmer. Ok, wait, the course was pretty much the same except for a few different corners along with a super long leg burner section. Like I said, the race was different…..even for me. I got a real bad start and watched the field go. Then tried to come in hot on the outside in the first corner and got pinched out….watching the field going further ahead now. I knew I had what it took to get up there and be up there but I was firing matches left and right to get where I should have already been. Such is racing. I got up to around 8th place finally and was dieing by the time I did. I was running like junk (can I even call it running??) and I was in survival mode. Survival mode went to hanging by a string mode and I landed in 12th. Blah. Not psyched on that but maybe, just maybe I got that “bad” race out of the way now. I remember the days I would have thought 12th alright but those days are gone.
But that is what other races are for right?! And my next adventure will take me to the first two rounds of the Cyclocross World Cups in the Czech Republic (Plzen Oct 16th, Tabor Oct 23rd) leaving just a few days after I get back from Fort Collins. I am very excited to experience racing Cyclocross on a World Cup level. I have raced in MTB World Cups in Europe as well as a 6 day mtb Stage race in Spain and I look forward to a new adventure.
Stan’s NoTubes is completely behind my goals this year and will be sending over the extremely talented mechanic, Myron Billy as my personal mechanic for the pits and travel buddy extraordinaire. I can’t wait for this experience!!!!

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