Sunday, September 23, 2007

VB-K Elite Cross Racer Maria Stewart (MN) Reports in on Her First Race with the "Big Girls"

By Maria Stewart
2007 Elite Velo Bella Cross Team

Today was my first CX race with the "big girls," the UCI DoubleCross
race near Detriot, MI. I haven't been THIS nervous for a bike race
for several years. This morning, I was sure that I was going to throw
up, pass out, or both. Luckily neither of them happened!

My race didn't start until 1:45, but I headed out to the course around
10 so I could have plenty of time to get ready and watch the B and C
class races. I cheered on Monica, a Michigan Bella in the Women's C
race. The venue was a horse/livestock show grounds (think 4H). The
race course was the most exciting CX course I had ever ridden. It had
everything you could put in a race course: off-camber turns, tight
corners, fast open sections, grass, gravel, dirt, pavement, riding
through a horse barn (no horses in it!), and tons of spectators.

The race started pretty fast, but I was able to hang on to the back of
the pack. Some of my competitors were top cyclists in the US- many
had UCI points. The laps were pretty long compared to courses at
home, so we ended up racing 5 laps for the 40 minute race. My barrier
training really paid off today. For those of you who don't know, I
spend several afternoons each week at Como Park jumping my CX
barriers. Each lap, I crossed the double barriers really smoothly.
My race strategy was to hang with the pack as long as possible and
then just race hard. That's just what I did! I even passed someone!

I finished the race 11th out of 14, which isn't much to brag about
except that its my first CX race of the season and my first UCI race
ever. My race was Cat 1/2 Women, so I definitely placed within my Cat
2 ability. My VB-K teammate Anna Milkowski (New Haven, CT) finished
2nd. I was impressed, even though she thought she could have raced

This race definitely sparked the racing fire under my butt! It was
really inspiring to race with women who are among the top in the
country. It was even more inspiring to know that I didn't get
completely shelled (even though the winner was posting lap times that
were a minute faster than mine!). The CX world had better watch out
for Maria Stewart in the next couple years!

The Men's Elite race was awesome too. Probably 50 racers started, and
it was amazing to watch them snake through the course. Jonathan Page,
who placed 2nd at Worlds last year, took the win, but not without a fight.

Tomorrow is another race at the same venue, but a different course.
More about that race tomorrow. Now, I'm looking forward to a great
night of sleep!



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