Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bella Loca Pegs-it in Gloucester!

By Bella Loca

The first weekend of the national cyclocross series, US Grand Prix, came early this year to Gloucester, Massachussetts. With my new race bike barely built last week, tubular glue still drying, and legs not sure if they were primed or trashed from months of hard preparation, I set off to the east coast for the opening of the season. I was nervous about the unknown that a new season brings, and at the same time very excited to try out my fitness and race on my beautiful new race bike. I especially love the new SRAM group, the carbon is so sexy and the parts are very light.

Travelling across the country to race can be taxing, but Velo Bella is very lucky to have support of people like the Kapsten's in Gloucester who took us in yet again this year. MattyWabbit and I arrived late on Thursday night to a warm home and a delicious hot dinner. Nancy is an outstanding chef, and Bruce was very helpful with his local knowledge and well stocked bicycle workspace in his garage. Their son Jesse was a presence all weekend as well, and did a great job with the color guard performances at the event.

The Gloucester course is a mix of wide open, fast and often windy sections right along the Atlantic Ocean, with a good sprinkling of technical turns. To add a little excitement this year the course designers snaked 5 turns through the sand pit. The course was tough, with even the downhill areas not providing rest. Add in several top athletes from around the country, and we were in for a battle.

Cross is very popular on the east coast, and the women's field had about 70 starters. Unfortunately for me, at least half of them had more UCI points than I did (based on last season's tally) so I was stuck with a poor start position on both days. Gloucester is a course that does not really lend itself to moving up through the pack, and I was disappointed to hit the dirt in about 39th place on both days. My strategy was to make passes whenever possible, and then hold my position once I could make up no more ground. That gave me two 9th places for the weekend and a few more UCI points, but for the effort I put out I would have loved to have started near the front and put it to some of the other top 10 girls from the get go.

The next weekend of the USGP is an entire month away, a mile high in Colorado. Before then, stay tuned for a possible unexpected UCI appearance, and for those of you in Northern California, I'll be seeing you at Velo Bella's own Surf City event thisweekend. I'll be teaching a clinic on how to play croquet with a flamingo, and if you bring me a bribe I may even share my secrets to a fast barrier section.

Bella Loca


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