• Sunny Gilbert

Race Report USA #CXNats 2018: Take One. #DeflateGate

We are off to the races

Almost too easily, I pirouetted over #LitteLoenhout at the start of the Women’s Elite USA Cyclocross National Championships. After a fantastically fast false flat start, I slotted into 5th position behind Courtenay McFadden. We plowed through the #DiscoMan sand pit and prepared for the next feature, the Belgian Stairs, in the chocker-bock-full-of-features course. Another obstacle I chose to run (after all, I do that for fun, right?!). Riders were in hot pursuit. Plowing downgrade through a slightly boggy, but ripping straightaway, broken only by a sharp sidewalk edge, I railed an S-turn on Courtenay’s wheel. Then it was the barriers, a sprint past the pit, and a sideways glance at Doug.


On the first off-camber after the run-up, I was popped when my front wheel slid into a hole. I went down on one knee, drawing blood, and losing a spot or two. The technical section still had two more off-cambers for me, and I redeemed myself with a crowd-pleasing outside pass on the last corner descent. I thought I heard Katie from @FeedBackSports on the sidelines saying something about smiles and mountain bikers. Bumping my way off the rough terrain, I took a big gulp of air, and hammered into the dinosaur park (There are dinosaurs on the course??) to finish off the lap.


Dig Deep

The next two laps go by in a blur. Altitude, with blood rushing in your ears, will do that to you. I heard my name cheered from the sidelines in sharp contrast, and caught the announcer, Scot Hermann, giving a play-by-play of Katie Compton’s movements on the course ahead of me. My race was close, locked in a battle with several other riders. I took the sharp inside line on a 180 degree turn, edging my Van Dessel #FullTiltBoogie into the tiniest of openings, passing another rider in full view of the pit, and eliciting more than a few #CheersforSkillz 📸 Ashley Fruhwirth.


Then halfway through the third lap, I thought I felt the squish of a rear tire going flat. I went down again, a perfe


ctly executed washout, on the ascent to the final off-camber S-turn (ironically, on the green Astroturf laid across the course to disguise something) confirming that I was losing pressure fast. And to make matters worse, Astroturf and bicycle shoes on a slope don’t mix. I slid down as I struggled to stand up, taking another rider with me who was trying to ride past. We untangled and I rode as quickly as I dared to the pits. Four laps down, two to go. #DougEFreshCX exalting from the pits yelling encouragement as I took off.



On a fresh set of wheels, I was riding inspired, aggressive. And working my way back into the top 10 after losing a few spots. And then the Astroturf, and then me again on the slide (another #SunnyGSlide ??), this time, no squish tire to blame.


One to Go

I seemed to find new energy, and bridged up to the next rider. I took the lead after a clean ride through the sand pit, and cemented a small gap, high-stepping through Belgian Stairs.


It was not to be. As I approached the final run-up before the off-camber, I heard more than felt the crack of my rim hit an unseen rock in the water in the washout section. And the ensuing phissshhhhh. The same place I double-flatted on two PDX with extra PSI on my pre-ride on Friday. Different tires, same result. Digging deep, I sprinted up the run-up, set my bike down to confirm the flattest of flats and promptly shouldered it for the difficult and long run to the bottom of the feature, graciously stepping aside for racers still very much in it for the glory. My race was almost done. 📸 screenshot -Chris MIleski.



I smiled my way through the crowds, hopped on the bike for the flatish, slow ride to the finish. Faster to ride and fishtail, then jog and carry. It was a pleasure to still get so many high-fives from spectators as I made my way across the finish line in 20th.


On the Brightside

I got to see friend, #babyShredder, and fellow St. Louisian, Raylyn Nuss, curise her way to a 16th place finish in her first Elite Nationals. She's been coming on strong all season. I also got out of the way to see fellow #Van_Dessel rider, Cassie Maximenko, win out in a sprint finish for 18th. And, if those two things don't make up for it, I've still got a strong sock game and there is another 2018 USA Cyclocross Nationals in 11 months. But first, a bit of a rest.




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