Race Report // CrossVegas 2016

1:07 PM

Yes. I did.

I raced at CrossVegas.

Oh, yeah. Vegas, baby.


Really and truly, I did race CrossVegas, though not in the big lights, at night, or on camera. In fact, I doubt there's a single image of me floating around the web anywhere.

Oh wait, I'm wrong...you can just barely see my head in behind this pic of the USAC Women's start:
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Image via MASH
I heard about CrossVegas last year, and after seeing pictures from the race, I immediately added the race to my to-do list. I not-so-patiently checked on the website for months, waiting for sign-up information to be shared. I knew I couldn't race Elite (not yet at least!) but I needed to be a cat-3 racer to be able to race in the USAC race. So, I applied to have my race category changed from a four to a three this summer, using results from 2015/2016. I got approved. I signed up for the USAC race. I booked my flight and hotel. Told my man to sign up to.

Everyone I spoke to warned me about the race. They said to practice riding in thick, tall grass and in the heat. The closest course that I have encountered here in BC, which is only a smidgen of the CrossVegas course...would have to be Donkey CX at Castle Park. And even that amount of thick grass doesn't compare!

Race bib pick up was scheduled for Tuesday, the day before the race. I was so excited to be amongst pro and elite racers! Or at least feel like I was! haha my race number was 13. When I saw my number, I had a moment of panic...what if there was only 13 women racing? What if there's so few of us, that I really struggle, and it is painfully obvious that I'm struggling, because I'm so out in the open? I was getting now, all these pre-race fears and concerns. The idea of this being the most exciting and fun race of the year was diminishing. Fast.

I had hopes that there would be well over one hundred women turning up for this race. I had this dream that I would have oodles of women to race against. That no matter how slow I was, there would be someone near or around me. That I'd have a great time being lost in the crowd.

The weather was supposed to be blazing hot, but we really lucked out and clouds came rolling in. Thank goodness! Our winter-Canadian bodies just don't handle the heat so well. We still slathered on sunscreen and covered our heads with hats, but at least it was manageable heat. There was a bit of wind too, which felt refreshing.

We rode our bikes from the hotel to the race site. I was pretty weary about the ride at first, actually, really weary. I was so nervous. I didn't trust the traffic, I didn't know if there were different cycling laws in Nevada than in BC. I didn't want to get hurt or hit or injured. I'm sure Corey was getting fed up with me and my nerves too. Turns out, the main road that we were on had a full lane dedicated to bikes and buses - cars could only use the lane if they were making a right hand turn. This road took us nearly all the way to the race site, and made the commute quick.

Showing up at the race site, I was beyond excited. We were a bit early, so we had no choice but to wait to get in. there wouldn't be much time for pre-riding the course.

Once in the grounds, we were impressed by the size of the course. It stretched all around the fields, had two fly-overs, a boardwalk corner, off-camber hills, multiple stairs and lots of straights. This would be a fun race.

We pre-rode the course, and I was excited. It wasn't too bad. It was hot, even though it was clouded over. I was so thankful it wasn't full, blazing sun. The grass was slow and energy sucking, just as people had described.

My thoughts and dreams of having 100+ women to race were smashed when we headed towards the start line. I showed up to the race with my lucky number 13 pinned (upside down...by accident, thanks Corey) to my shirt. Lucky number 13. Only 13 racers in the USAC women's race. One woman had a mechanical issue in her pre-ride, and couldn't start. One woman didn't show up. That made 11 of us.

There were probably close to 60 men in the USAC race. I was happy for Corey, aside from the fact he had to start from the back of the pack (we don't have USAC points for call-ups). He would have a great time racing all those men.

The women started just a few moments after the men. The start light was red. Red. Red. Then suddenly green!

The eleven of us took off from the start line like little rockets. I did my best to get up and sprint and push and try to find a nice comfy spot at least mid-pack before the first corner. I did manage, but as soon as we hit the back section of thick grass I was dropped. I had one woman in front of me for most of the first lap, but she too seemed to leave me in the dust.

CrossVegas was the longest three laps of my life.

We had a half-hour to race. We were to do four laps, but I lucked out with three.

Each pedal stroke seemed to sink me into the grass and suck away any speed I could have had. It sucked away my soul. It sucked away my happiness.

I wanted to quit. I was so far behind and men were starting to pass me. I was going so, f'in, slow that the fly-overs felt like hill climbs. How in the world did those women go so fast!?!?

I raced the laps on my own, knowing very well I wouldn't catch up, but not wanting to actually throw in the towel. Each lap, an unknown voice cheered out my name. Who in the world knew my name? Who in the world came to watch me? His cheer helped keep me positive.

Remounting after the gruelling up-hill, off-camber, 50 ft (I'm guessing...) sand pit was a struggle. The second and third lap, my run through the sand pit was more of a heavy footed trudge. My remount was more of a stop-rest-get on.

The stairs were well done and made in such a way that if you had speed you could easily ride up of them. But not me. Nope. I didn't even have to brake on my approach to the stairs, because I was already going so slow.

After being lapped by a few of the men (and not as many as I thought it would be) I was approaching the finish line, when I could hear the announcers calling out the lead woman approaching for her victory. She zoomed right past me, sprinting for the finish. So impressive!

Her finish also meant that the rest of us women were finished. Which meant that I didn't have to do another lap. I finished right behind her. I'm hoping someone got a picture of her finish, with me in there photo bombing the whole event, so that it looks as if I was in second place, not solid last.

If anything, CrossVegas taught me something: that we need more women on bikes! We need more women to shed their fears of racing and give it a try. We need you. I need you. #cyclelikeagirl

The more of us there is out there racing and riding, the less we can be ignored when it comes to sponsorship and attention. The more of us there is, the more attractive the sport can appear to newcomers. The more of us there is, the more fun we can all go have.

I don't know if I'll do the race again next year. Though, if I do, I will spend 3-6 months practising riding in tall, thick grass, up hill. I will wear an insulated onsie so that I feel the heat and sweat like crazy. I will go for runs in the sand wearing ski boots. I will ride uphill until it hurts.

If I do race next year, I will take it far more seriously...and not have the idea in my head that I'm going there for a fun, huge, single-speed-world's type of race.

You can view results here: http://www.crossvegas.com/25/results/3-website/results/255-2016-results
I was racing the USAC Women's category. You'll see my name near the bottom of the list.

If you have any pictures from the USAC races, I would love to see them and share them!

View some other write ups from racers at CrossVegas:

MASH

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