Report From the Women's Cat 4 CX Race at Gloucester
By Nicole Hildebrand
Gloucester has always been one of my top favorite cyclocross races. It’s the course, the large race fields, the huge cheering crowds, awesome vendors and the gorgeous scenery. This year I was more excited because it wasn’t raining and they actually had a Category 4 field, instead of combined 3 & 4. I knew this was going to be a very fast race, it wasn’t technical, especially compared to prior years. There was no ankle deep mud, or riding the deep sandy beach or running the long staircase. It was pretty flat, bone dry, dusty as a desert and abnormally warm, in fact I was already sweating and the race hadn’t even started.
We were off! Starting near the front I pedaled as fast as I could up the paved hill but started getting passed, too much spinning. It was not a good start but I kept my legs moving and started to pass my first few racers as we made our way through the field. It was then the off camber chicanes, crowed with racers sliding, falling and generally getting in each other’s way. After running the stairs it was back to being all out on the fast flat fields. A quick sprint across the beach volleyball court and
we were at the second set of stairs. This is where the cheering gets loud and re-energizing. With the barriers at the bottom it’s then back up the hill to do it all over again and again. It was fun, fast, dusty and hot. I placed 22 out of 78.
With a second row start and a better plan I was excited for another chance to take on the dusty course. I just knew I could be faster and had a great cheering team to encourage me. Today’s start was more critical as the stairs were close to the start and time is easily lost there. We were off, I stood and raced up the hill fighting for position near the front. I did much better and made it to the steps with no issues and just kept going from there. On lap one I was in 12th place. Wahoo! From there I lost some steam, dropping a few positions on the fast flats. I then dropped my chain on the second set of stairs losing a few more positions but I hopped back on fighting to not give up even one more position. In the end I came in 20th happy, sweaty and very dusty. It was a fun weekend with family and friends and look forward to next year.