• Sunny Gilbert

Race Report from Major Taylor CX: Give me a second…


The course couldn’t have been more different from the year before when I pulled off the double win, my first ever. Whereas as 2017 turned into a muddy slog through a flooded former fish farm determined to become one again, 2018 promised to be fast and dry. Ish. There was still that one puddle on a sweeping corner out in the “foggy bottoms” (according to @MrDavidPalan). And the Fish Farm Field held on to what little moisture had precipitated the previous week like a child to its blankie, making that puddle something of a difference maker.


The race was also surprisingly, or maybe not, stacked. 37 woman toed (rolled) the line, the largest field of the weekend. Also, the BikeshopCX crew of Mr. David Palan and ScottyD had sufficiently talked up this race over the past year. It was good to see my friends again, and hoped I could give them something to talk about (remember the SunnyG Slide?). With no West Coast race, and a bit of a lull after the Pan American Champs, many top women Came. To. Race. on the hallowed ground of the Major Taylor Velodrome.


Day 1 had its fireworks. A podium that seemed decided with two laps to go, suddenly got a shuffle when Emma Schwartz and I went charging, and caught a struggling 2ndposition Courtenay who would later succumb to a scary breathing issue at the finish line (Frenchy was right behind her and caught her as she nearly collapsed – she would recover and race well the next day, as we shall see…or you likely already know). Sofia would stay away for the win.


Day 2 played out quite a bit differently. For one, the course was a bit more slippery, a couple of corners were straightened out, and there was no good place to get away. A group of four – the same top 4 from the day before – quickly came together, and no rider with a clear advantage. Sofia dropped her chain on the descent from the backside on one lap, and with Courtenay in front controlling the pace, she was back on less than a lap alter. Emma was gapped more than a couple of times, but managed to overcome and fight her way back. I would take to the front, try to press any advantage I could (including jamming Sofia in the same corner Courtenay used on me the day before – thank you for showing me that line!), but nothing worked. We went into the final fields as a loose group of four.


A whole lot of hole shot on Day 2 📸 Joe Vond

Is rubbing racing? Mr. David Palan had been calling out the treacherous puddle in the foggy bottom as a difference maker all day. Just before the puddle, I lined up to take it wide to start, outside to inside. Courtenay came up fast on my left to take the lead. Sofia swung wide on my right, but bobbled, threw out an arm in my direction and made contact, to steady herself? But, I was stalled, and off the fast line. Sofia charged ahead of Courtenay, and it seemed for a minute like things were moving in slow motion. It was at that moment, going into the final barriers, tight shikanes, and a super short finishing straight that I knew I had lost the race. The odd woman out. Off the bottom step of the podium. With Sofia having a few bike lengths, Emma with her powerful sprint and Courtenay positioned in second, we would finish within one second.

Grrr Face 📸 Joe Vond


Alas, it was still great to chat up ScottyD of @BikeShopCX fame during the men’s elite race on Day 1 about cyclocross, music, and @TNR-tape, and hang out with Frenchy and teammate-from-another-team, BAO. We discovered it was also the five-year anniversary of our Facebook Friendship – cue loud groans and eye-rolling for social media. Van Dessel has made this season a truly memorable experience. And as I pedal my way toward the final races of my 2018 season, I can’t help but be grateful to Edwin, and all he has done for me.


A quick note on the elephant in the room: Heckling. 🐘 That’s all. Thank you.

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