After posting about a few road races, USG racing and I thought the cyclocross racing should be getting some coverage. A few days ago, Stacey Riedel raced in round 3 of the PACC TwiLITE CX series. Cross racing is big in Adelaide, and I imagine it's just as big in Europe, though holding cross in summer leads to very different conditions. Here's Stacey's report.
Round 3 of the PACC TwiLITE Summer CX series was held at Park 23, better known as Zombie Park. It was hot and dusty and would be challenging as the first race back after a 2 month break in Cyclocross.
Disorganised and rushing, I arrive at the race 10 minutes before I’m meant to be starting. I collect my numbers and pin them on, then head to the start line. I haven't ridden the course yet so am not sure what I’ve got in store (I don’t recommend you do this). Mum meets me at the start line and hands me my water bottle for some last minute hydration. It’s hot. 39 degrees in fact.
The A grade women’s field consists of 8 women all ready to race. We receive 30 seconds to go and wait for the count down. GO! No countdown, but we are off. I’m on the outside and try to get a quick start so I can get to the front but I’m pushed to the side and have to back off. The first corner is tight and I take it on the inside and gain a few positions. I’m in about 3rd position and happy with where I’m sitting. The girls are all together and relatively unaggressive at this point in time. Anna Puckridge is leading the field and I’m in 5th position. I get out the saddle and move up. I want to be in front to be able to see the corners and what’s ahead.
We go over undulating grass and take a sharp left onto some looser gravel and dirt towards a sharp steep hill which we need to go up, U-turn, down, U-turn and back up. I’ve done this before, I know I can ride it. I change into my smallest gear and push back in my saddle to get up the hill, I get to the top, turn, and attempt to ride down. I can hear spectators telling the other girls ‘Run! Run! Run!’. What? Run? The course is a bit different to when I’ve previously done it and where the turn around points are situated means I can’t ride it. A bit of chaos as all the girls are dismounting their bikes - some not quite as graceful as others. I jump off my bike as quick as I can and start running. A few girls have passed me and I need to get up with the leaders.
I get out the saddle and sprint after them, and take the next right hand corner quickly to gain some time. I reach Jenny McPherson, arguably the best rider we have in this series, and sit behind her in second wheel. I just stick to her wheel and try not to lose any ground. She’s strong, and powers away from me on the grass section and paved section. I prefer the technical dirt parts.
I chase and try to keep the gap the same, taking corners as fast as possible without crashing and getting out the saddle as I exit them. I know now to run the steep part. I lose a bit of time, missing my pedal when trying to clip in. We’ve done 2 laps and I was sitting in second for both of them.
I glance back and see Gemma Kernich not far behind me and rapidly gaining. Jenny is getting further ahead and Gemma has now caught me and I can feel her sitting behind me. I move to the side hoping she will come past me and she does. I get on her wheel and sit there until we reach the grassy section. Like Jenny, Gemma is far stronger than me on these parts and pulls ahead. 3 laps down and I continue riding as hard as I can, trying to corner well and not lose any time. It’s so hot. I’m sweating and my throat is full of dust. This makes breathing even harder than it already would be.
The gap stays about the same and I try to bring it back but I’m already riding as hard as I can. We receive the bell lap for 1 to go and just as before I try to hang on to my position. I can hear the commentary and Jenny has finished in 1st place. Not long after Gemma finishes and I sprint to the line to get the best time I can, coming in 3rd. I finish and my lungs and chest are burning from breathing in dust for 20 minutes.
I asked her after the race what she made of it;
It was another great course, thanks to PACC, and the girls made it a tough race. Looking forward to the final two rounds of the CXTwiLITE Summer Series!
Thanks for reading, can you imagine racing in these hot and dusty conditions?