Words by Grace-Anne Ingham
Being a part of the Elite Women's race at the USA Cycling National Cyclocross Championships was an incredible experience. Going into the race, I knew that the top women would be doing each lap in about ten minutes and I estimated that I would do mine in 14. Based on these lap times I was expecting to race for two laps before getting pulled from the field (based on the UCI 80% rule). My biggest goal was just to not be the first person taken out of the race. Given all this, I was SUPER STOKED to race my laps almost a minute faster than I thought possible- I did my first lap in 13:13 and my second lap in 13:03. These lap times were good enough that I wasn't pulled after my second lap and actually got to race a third lap before exiting the race course! I was really excited that I got a third lap, and I was the fifth person pulled from the field! The race itself was so hype, everywhere you turned there were people cheering, encouraging, and of course heckling. The spectators got a huge kick out of my GRITS kit too, I heard lots of jokes from the sidelines about how my legs were on fire or I was going to fly up the runups with eagle's wings.
This race definitely showed me what I need to work on for next season. My fitness is good, but I didn't have the confidence in my bike handling to ride down any of the descents in the UCI course. I made descent time running down the hills, but it cost me a lot of energy and wasn't nearly as fast as riding down.